QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

Tell us how long it's been since your previous film Detox or Die, and what's happened to you since then.

I did the detox treatment, that features in Iboga Nights, in August 2003. I filmed it with the intention of making a documentary about this bizarre psychedelic detox option. The result was a documentary I made for the BBC One Life strand called Detox or Die (broadcast in June 2004).

I’ve shown that film and related work to audiences comprised of medical professionals, addiction workers and people affected by issues raised within the documentary. I’ve even started a production company, with a like-minded colleague, making specialist educational films based around addiction issues. We were in Thailand earlier this year shooting at a Buddhist monastery who use a herbal detox, meditation and sacred vows to help people quit their habits. 

Have you been clean since your own Iboga Night?

That’s a question I’m often asked and I’ll freely admit that there have been the odd hiccups over the last ten years. Nothing very serious and maybe on 2 or 3 occasions I’ve sought solace from a depressive episode with a strong narcotic. Afterwards I felt terrible guilt and anguish. These momentary lapses led me to experiment with very low doses of iboga. The results amazed me as I’ve been able to gain much greater stability now. I truly believe that low dose iboga therapy can aid in long term recovery. 

Why did you feel the need to look at Ibogaine more critically, when it had been a success for you?

The ibogaine certainly helped kill off the hellish withdrawal symptoms I’d normally have felt coming off methadone. It speeded up my recovery and gained me respect within the addiction community, whether that be struggling users or professionals working in the field.

The amount of correspondence I received spurred me on to make a follow-up to Detox or Die. I felt I owed it to struggling addicts to go on a mission to find out how truly effective ibogaine really was. 

What kind of reaction did you get for your previous film Detox or Die?

I have had an amazing response to Detox or Die. Even after 10 years it still gets me a fair amount of correspondence. Many are looking for a way out of their addiction and are considering an iboga treatment session. I tell them the pros and cons of that option.

I’ve also received many ‘thank you’ messages from former addicts who have successfully quit a drug habit by way of iboga or ibogaine. They see my film as the the catalyst to their redemption. 

Was it difficult for you to film drug users after your own experience?

I have filmed addicts on many occasions since Detox or Die and had little problem doing so. I’ve even helped start a company specialising in films based around addiction issues. That is not to say I’ve got complacent about the matter and there has been the odd occasion when I’ve let my guard down as I previously mentioned. Recovery is an ongoing process which can be very tough at times.

What was the toughest moment for you during filming?

I think the toughest moment was when one of the addicts I was filming had a bad reaction to the iboga. He had a seizure due to an undiagnosed heart condition. I was unsure whether to include this episode in the film but I felt it was necessary to show that there were dangers with iboga. Perhaps, after watching Iboga Nights, people will be more stringent in getting their health stats checked more thoroughly when undergoing this rigorous form of detox.

How difficult was it to stay as the impartial observer when filming?


I found it impossible to be an impartial observer in this project and that is evident at the end of the film when I become actively involved in Sid’s home treatment session. It was better having someone there who knew a little about treatment provision and could monitor his heart and blood pressure throughout.

What is the secret to getting people to speak out about personal issues?

I just seem to be able to have the ability to put people at ease and communicate effectively with them. Small talk about my life and their lives coupled with a total openness of what I’m trying to achieve with the project works well. Gradually we can build up a relationship of mutual respect and understanding which I think is an asset in good documentary filmmaking.

Do you think you found the answers you were looking for when you set out?

I originally set out to make a campaigning documentary. The original title was in fact ‘The Mission’…..pretty much a man on a mission scenario. I wanted to show how incredible the treatment with this strange African psychedelic truly was. Along the way I discovered that it wasn’t going to be plain sailing and there was a downside to iboga treatment. The project changed a bit because of these revelations but I think I reached the point I was looking for initially. That iboga can be very effective if all the necessary precautions are taken.

What do you hope people will take away from this film?

The film undoubtedly seeks to highlight an underground treatment for addiction which I feel the medical establishment should investigate more seriously. In this sense it is a polemic film. I want the project to be accessible to an audience with no prior knowledge of the issues involved though. I hope that the narrative structure and characters I meet will involve the viewer enough to be drawn in by the journey I partake.

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