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photo Dealing with the Demon
By Chris Hilton and David Roberts

After 75 years of a concerted global fight to restrict the supply of addictive drugs, the world is currently facing unprecedented levels of illicit drug production, with ten times more heroin produced now than during the last "plague" of the 1970s. Dealing with the Demon examines how we find ourselves in this situation, despite the massive international war on drugs. And, what can possibly be done about it?

Each film in the series interweaves contemporary human stories with crucial scenes from the history of the drug trade, providing a provocative and timely commentary from which to view the ongoing debate.

Episode I: The Seeds of War traces the growth of the international drug trade, and the failure of the U.S. led process of international prohibition to contain it.

The film opens with a bumper opium harvest in Afghanistan and links this to the recent rise in middle class heroin use in the United States. This provides the launching point for an inquiry into the history of the drug trade, which takes us to former British opium factories on the banks of the Ganges, and through the archives of Persia and China. The Seeds of War asks how much of our current predicament is of our own making? Has our fear of addiction and lack of faith in treatment led to the entrenchment of a policy which doesn't work?

Episode II: An Unholy Alliance examines the relationship between the drug trade and war, detailing the involvement of the CIA in Vietnam and Afghanistan during the Cold War.

From the time of Chiang Kai Shek in China, through the front lines of the Cold War, in South East Asia, the Golden Triangle, and later in Vietnam, An Unholy Alliance examines how priorities designed to defeat communism, led to the protection and spread of drugs. Now that the Cold War is over, perhaps we have a chance to face the shadow, and deal with the demon?

Episode III: Containing the Fallout investigates the spread of heroin use, its role in fueling the AIDS epidemic, and explores the most effective means of dealing with illicit drugs. The film examines the historical evolution of what is called a harm reduction strategy and how it operates. Harm reduction, with its goals for public health as a whole rather than the elimination of drug use per se is exemplified best by free needle and syringe exchange programs.

Containing the Fallout observes how the historical tussle between the criminal view and the medical view of drug use is now played out against a world wide plague of opiate addiction. AIDS is finally forcing many nations, including our own, to confront the reality of failed drug policies.

Filmed in fifteen different countries (in Asia, the U.S., Australia and Europe) at considerable risk to the filmmakers, Dealing with the Demon is a compelling view of one of the darkest aspects of recent history.

165 minutes
© 1996
Purchase $348 DVD
Order No. QA-565

"Tempting as it must have been to moralize, the series instead fuses a comprehensive look at the history of heroin with contemporary debates on how the problem should be handled, without turning into a sermon. Intensively researched ... splendid stuff." The Age (Australia)

"The definitive documentary on the drug." The Australian

Awards & Conference Screenings
Silver Plaque Winner (x3), 1996 Chicago International Television Festival

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Crystal Fear, Crystal Clear: Methamphetamine, or crystal meth, has become the drug of choice for teenagers in small towns across North America. Highly addictive, cheap, and easy to get, it can cause psychosis, permanent brain damage, and even death. This program documents a year in the lives of three families devastated by this powerful, seductive drug.

The Gospel According to Mr. Allen: The staff of the Addicts Rehabilitation Center struggle to give addicts a sense of dignity and hope as they try to break the harsh grip of drugs.

Not A Game: A stark, graphic warning about crystal meth aimed especially at pre-teens and younger children who might be influenced by older kids to "experiment." Classroom scenes show students practicing "refusal skills," and a plain-talking physician asks "What part of your brain would you like to do without?"

Thwarting the Illicit Drug Seeker: This comprehensive training video offers dentists and their staff simple steps that will help them to distinguish addicts and con artists from legitimate patients, and to avoid diversion of controlled drugs to the street market.

Worth Saving: This short video follows two drug users through a groundbreaking program that teaches the signs of drug overdose and the basic CPR needed to save lives. In an unusual and controversial approach, the DOPE program also prescribes the antidote Narcan directly to drug users.


Awards & Screenings

Related Films

Web Resources

To rent or purchase this film, please visit the Icarus Films website