(Tyler Chandler’s directorial debut, Dosed has started a slow roll-out in NY and L.A. It will be expanding over the following weeks. Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not pay just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?)
Tyler Chandler’s directorial debut, Dosed, begins with a frightening statistic from the World Health Organization: 1.6 billion people suffer from anxiety, depression, and addiction worldwide. While you watch this documentary, 127 people will commit suicide. Then we meet Chandler’s friend, Adrianne, a young Canadian woman who admits that opioid addiction causes her to risk her life on a daily basis. She has repeatedly tried to get clean through legal channels, but it creates an unsustainable cycle of methadone, painful detox, and inevitable relapse. Adrianne knows that if she can’t end this pattern soon, she will take her own life as a means of escape. She is desperate to try anything. Fortunately, Chandler has recently heard that plant psychedelics can help.
Adrianne says that she would like to be sober by the end of the documentary. It seems like a tall order but she has to try. I would have liked more of a mention about how people who aren’t nice white ladies with two loving parents of means can achieve similar results, but Adrianne does herself call out how lucky she feels to have a support system. Some statistics about other demographics would have been welcome to put everything in perspective.
Chandler’s camera follows Adrianne into some very dark places including the alleys and street corners in downtown Vancouver where she procures her self-medications (she calls herself a “garbage can addict,” meaning she’ll take what she can get), and her bedroom that houses hundreds of mostly-empty heroin baggies, compulsively stashed away for scraping on a rainy day. We also watch her regurgitate morphine pills because she took too many. She sorts through her own sick to portion out the correct dose and save the undigested pills for later.
Throughout the course of the film, Adrianne tries several dose sizes of psilocybin (aka “magic” mushrooms) and iboga (a psychoactive shrub from central Africa) as she works with the naturopaths to treat her addiction. The mushrooms help curb her depression and anxiety but do nothing for her physical cravings for heroin. She also has an awakening of sorts on the mushrooms that give her access to the childhood trauma that may have set her on this path in the first place.
One big difference between the pharmaceutical and natural treatments, not expressly discussed in the film, is the level of personal care Adrianne received from the naturopaths, who stayed with her throughout treatment and checked in regularly. Part of that was, of course, because they had an interest in walking through the process for the camera, but you can’t fake the level of compassion of commitment they had in helping to free Adrianne of the bonds of addiction. It’s absolutely mind-boggling that this type of health care is against the law, but doctors recklessly dispensing opioids is not. At one point, Adrianne ends up in the emergency room for a panic attack and they offer her methadone. Fortunately, Adrianne is in a place in her recovery that allows her to resist the temptation and advocate for herself. But many addicts could not decline something their body knows will make their pain go away, however temporarily and at high cost to their recovery.
Dosed isn’t an easy watch, but there are bright spots, such as when Adrianne goes through her psilocybin treatments. She walks through the woods on a sunny day, and the viewer witnesses a haunted woman peacefully exorcising her medical-grade demons. There are also set-backs, such as when Adrianne reveals she has been lying about her heroin consumption and has to re-do her iboga treatment (designed to eliminate her physical dependence on opioids). But for the most part, she is a woman on the mend. You can see it in her face and the way she carries herself. These treatments are rewiring her brain. At a couple of points, research scientist talking heads walk us through the physiology of psychedelic therapy. It’s fascinating and also truly shocking that the government has yet to declassify this type of natural medicine, or, at the very least, legalized the research. During the production on this film, Denver Colorado and Oakland, California legalized mushrooms, so hopefully we’re on the precipice of a new hope for people like Adrianne.
Like what you see here on Hammer to Nail? Why not pay just $1.00 per month via Patreon to help keep us going?
– Jessica Baxter (@tehBaxter)