By Joe Southern
Curtis Brown is a Gulf War veteran and a wounded warrior.
Unlike so many of his military peers, he is not missing limbs, he is missing parts of his neck and spine and until recently he was losing his mind. He now has a mostly titanium neck and partial spine and a new grip on reality. For years Brown suffered from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), or as he calls it in the title of his new book, Programmed To Self-Destruct.
In his book, as in his life, Brown wages war against an unseen enemy – opioid drug addiction.
“This addiction was destroying my life,” he said.
Brown was an E4 in the Army and served during the Gulf War in 1990-91 with the First Cavalry. He received two bronze service stars for his service, but while in Iraq he was exposed to chemicals that made him sick. In August of 1991 he was injured in a training accident and medically discharged. For 18 years he suffered with chronic pain, PTSD and an addiction to the pain relievers, muscle relaxants and antidepressants the doctors at his Veteran’s Affairs hospital kept prescribing him.
“These psychotropic drugs put me in a Waco mental ward for a while,” he said.
After 12 years, he and his wife, Heather, realized that the source of his pain was a broken neck and spine he suffered in the training accident. He had three surgeries at the VA hospital in Shreveport, La., but they were botched and made things worse.
In 2010 he found a new doctor and again went under the knife.
“My neck is 98 percent titanium,” Brown said.
His neck and part of the lumbar region of his spine had collapsed.
“The VA just wanted to push more and more strong meds on me,” he said.
He said the drug problem isn’t limited to the VA. He said there is a national epidemic with doctors prescribing mind-altering and addictive drugs to treat anxiety, depression and other mental issues.
“Addiction is a prison,” he said.
What scared him the most was he was becoming like his father. As Brown explains in his book, his father was in the Navy and served in Korea. He was wounded and prescribed narcotics. Brown’s father was addicted to the drugs and as a result he became abusive.
“It was a rough life, very abusive,” Brown recalled.
He could see the same thing happening in his life.
“I became the thing I hated the worst in my Dad,” he said. “But God got hold of my heart … and my wife never gave up praying.”
Brown was eventually able to forgive his father and make peace with him before he died. More importantly, he was able to get off the drugs. He was two weeks away from finalizing a divorce from Heather when he went into a detox center for three days. In the meantime, Heather had done some research into natural alternatives. At her suggestion he tried over-the-counter supplements of 5-HTP, magnesium and GABA.
“My body didn’t get addicted,” he said.
He also started getting acupuncture and muscle massage therapy to manage his pain.
“I now have no anxiety, no PTSD and no depression,” he beamed.
His weight dropped from 300 to 200 pounds. Today he is working part time at the Pecan Grove Country Club and is a full-time husband and father. Two months ago “PTSD: Programmed To Self-Destruct” was published. He hopes to use the book as a springboard to a speaking career so he can help other veterans and people suffering from drug addictions reclaim their lives.
“I’m an advocate to help veterans and individuals who are addicted to medication,” he said.
One of his first speaking engagements will be Oct. 21 in Kileen at a Victory for Veterans Car and Motorcycle Show. It will be a benefit for victims of suicide from PTSD and prescription medication addiction.
“I have a vision to show them there’s another way,” Brown said.
To learn more or to contact Brown, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.