ADDICTED BRAIN: An Alabama man travels to fight opioid addiction

Mobile County

MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG/CBS) — One Alabama man is traveling the country, trying to tackle the problem of addiction, by focusing on the addicted brain. 

24-year-old Gage Titlow is in the process of moving in to a new home. This is home away from home for a year as he works to reach recovery from a ten-year addiction to drugs and alcohol. 

“I was drinking at 14 or 15-year-old, and I have no explanation as to why,” Gage tells CBS. “It was just, I’m having so much fun. But it’s not fun. It’s miserable.”

Dane’s mother, Jan McCoy, is a force behind the effort to help others avoid the same fate as her son, who tried rehab several times at other places. Places that allowed him to go home before he was ready. Jan says, “His brain wasn’t healed yet, but I didn’t know that at the time. Today, I think I’ve learned that since he’s passed.” At the center of treatment is the addicted brain. 

Jeremy Graham is the founder of True Purpose Ministries. Graham says “the first commitment is a year we ask them to come in for a full year, talking about the brain — the brain needs that time to heal.” He continues, “they need to come in and learn how they got this way and how to deal with their addiction.”

Tim Hilton of Birmingham is a National Recovery advocate. He travels the country to speak to groups about triggers in the pleasure center of the brain, genetic predispositions, and the insidious damage opioids have on the brain.

“I think part of what we’re seeing with the opioid crisis is opioids have such a powerful impact on those pathways that they more quickly disregulate them. They do the damage more quickly,” Hilton claims. Addiction is part of Gage’s family tree, although no one really talked about it. He is determined to stop the cycle.

“My grandfather was an alcoholic. His father, I’m not sure about. I believe my dad’s oldest brother may have had a problem I’m not sure,” Gage says. “Yeah those generational curses carry on but we have the power to stop that. It can stop with this generation. It’s over with. It’s not going to carry another generation.”

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