Once again, in their self-referential way, Vice covers...vices. As they did in World's Scariest Drug and The Drunkest Place on Earth, Vice delves into the realities of drugs and addiction, and the surrounding legislation (or lack thereof). In "Addiction" Vice guides us through a "new age" clinic in Malang, a voodoo-style healing circle in Brooklyn, New York, and an upscale Mexican villa serving as a heroin rehab center to invariably lead one to question whether the laws surrounding drugs and addiction are really serving the best interests of the people.
"Tobaccoland", the first half of the documentary, is focused on the tobacco industry in Indonesia. There, the tobacco industry has never had to work around anti-smoking legislation or rhetoric leaving it to grow, and flourish, unchecked. Over two-thirds of adult men are smokers, and it is common for children - frequently as young as six - to pick up the habit as well. Vice correspondent Thomas Morton experiences Indonesian smoking-culture first hand: from picking up the first pack of the day with a young schoolboy, to visiting a clinic promising to cure a variety of ailments with smoking and tobacco therapies.
"Underground Heroin Clinic", the second installment, follows the story of a heroin addict trying to get clean for good with the aid of Ibogaine - a drug made out of the African iboga root. Ibogaine is used for its purported ability to sidestep the withdrawal process, but is classified as a Type-A felony drug in the United States due to its intense, hallucinogenic properties. Vice founder and correspondent, Shane Smith, follows a young man's journey from Brooklyn, where he meets up with an Ibogaine-advocate-slash-ritualistic-voodoo-healer to travel to Mexico, where Ibogaine use is legal.
Both of the short pieces featured in Addiction employ an immersionist style of journalism: the correspondents - Thomas Morton and Shane Smith - immerse themselves within the respective worlds of addiction, and interact with those affected one-on-one. The resulting documentaries are not the impersonal and ostensibly objective style associated with traditional journalism, but rather are personal, direct and raw. The immersive documentary style and gritty subject matter combine beautifully to portray heartbreaking stories in a very genuine way.