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Interview With Dr. Aurielle Williams, TruHealing Atlanta’s Executive Director, on the Impacts of Alcoholism


What are psychological causes of alcoholism?

  • Alcoholism is both a genetic and psychological condition that affects over 41% of the population (World Health Organization, 2021). An individual’s family of origin has the greatest impact in determining if they will suffer from alcoholism later in their life (Alcohol and the brain: An overview 2021). The heritability of alcoholism is 49% (Chinnusamy, M., Eugin, P. R., & Janakiraman, S. (2021), meaning that based on various genetic components, almost half of the risk that an individual will suffer from alcoholism comes from their family genetics.
  • The psychological causes of alcoholism vary based on a number of factors, including those mentioned above. Psychologically, when someone is under immense stress—such as when starting college, a new job, or other major life stressors—alcohol can be a quick an easily accessible tool to turn to for immediate relief of symptoms and discomfort. Those who suffer from alcoholism have similar behavioral traits, including low distress tolerance, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions. One-third of individuals who report suffering from alcoholism report a mental health diagnosis including schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and generalized anxiety disorder.
  • Overall, alcoholism is a family disorder. The genetic components account for one part of the disease; however, the psychological distress that transfers to the family of the individual dealing with alcoholism is also pervasive. Family members of those who suffer from alcoholism report increased depression, anxiety, and other mental health symptoms directly related to their loved one’s disorder. 59% of family members reported high stress, financial burden, domestic violence, and child abuse and neglect directly related to the substance use of a family member (Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and Their Treatment 2012).
  • The psychological implications of alcoholism are detrimental to not only the individual suffering, but also their family members and those closest to them, which causes a myriad of psychological implications resulting from the disease.

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How does alcohol addiction affect the brain?

  • Drinking alcohol has both short- and long-term effects on the brain and overall health. Alcohol, even in small amounts, impairs cognitive ability, judgement, and brain development. The earlier an individual begins drinking, the higher the risk of having long-term changes in brain functioning and brain structure.
  • Several bodily functions are hindered when an individual drinks in excess, especially in the brain, which controls the overall human body. Some of these changes include slurred speech, loss of body control, memory difficulties, and poor judgement. More serious effects include blackouts, seizures, coma, and even death.
  • Drinking alcohol pollutes the brain and causes neurons to actually shrink in size and limit their capacity. Drinking alcohol, especially in excess, severely diminishes the heath of the brain.

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What are the criteria for being considered an “alcoholic”?

  • According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual (DSM-5), Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD) is classified as a maladaptive pattern of substance use leading to clinically significant impairment or distress (APA, 2013). The diagnosis is broken into mild, moderate, and severe sub-classifications.
  • Mild is when the individual presents with 2 to 3 symptoms. Moderate: the presence of 4 to 5 symptoms. Severe: the presence of 6 or more symptoms. Symptoms include:
      • Consuming more alcohol or spending more time drinking than intended.
      • Desire to limit or halt alcohol use that has not succeeded.
      • Spends an inordinate amount of time drinking, being ill, and/or undergoing the aftereffects of alcohol use.
      • Has strong cravings for alcohol.
      • Consuming alcohol or becoming ill because of it has kept the person from properly attending to household duties and children or resulted in difficulties performing on the job or at school.
      • Has continued drinking despite the problems created with family and loved ones.
      • Has discontinued or is only sporadically involved with things that were once enjoyable or important to them in order to continue drinking.
      • Has repeatedly been in situations during the consumption of alcohol that have increased the chance of being injured (using machinery, driving).
      • Continues to drink even though they feel sad, distressed, or it affects an already existing health problem. Similarly, they continue to drink alcohol following episodes of forgetting or blanking out about events that occurred during while drinking.
      • Has to increase drinking to get the results they seek.


  • A licensed mental health or medical provider should provide a diagnosis of alcoholism to ensure accuracy and appropriate care and treatment.

[/vc_column_text][vc_row_inner css=”.vc_custom_1656432512481{border-top-width: 1px !important;border-right-width: 1px !important;border-bottom-width: 1px !important;border-left-width: 1px !important;padding-top: 25px !important;padding-right: 25px !important;padding-bottom: 25px !important;padding-left: 25px !important;border-left-color: #f99d25 !important;border-left-style: solid !important;border-right-color: #f99d25 !important;border-right-style: solid !important;border-top-color: #f99d25 !important;border-top-style: solid !important;border-bottom-color: #f99d25 !important;border-bottom-style: solid !important;}”][vc_column_inner width=”1/4″][vc_single_image image=”4929″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center”][/vc_column_inner][vc_column_inner width=”3/4″][vc_column_text]Dr. Aurielle Williams is the Regional Executive Director for Georgia (TruHealing Atlanta). She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, Clinical Supervisor, and Domestic Mediator. Dr. Williams has been in clinical practice for over ten years specializing in trauma, suicide awareness and prevention, and family preservation. She has a passion for serving others and giving back to her community.

Dr. Williams serves on the Gwinnett County Young Professionals Board—where she also holds an elected position as a Committee Vice Chair—delivers mental health education at speaking engagements, and mentors other young professionals through the Journey Program, a nine-month leadership development program. In 2021, she was selected as one of Atlanta’s “30 under 30 Young Professionals.”

Dr. Williams attended Auburn University, where she completed her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies. She received a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Mercer University School of Medicine, an MBA in Healthcare Administration at Western Governors University, and a doctorate degree in Human and Social Services at Walden University.

To learn more about Dr. Williams, check out her LinkedIn:[/vc_column_text][/vc_column_inner][/vc_row_inner][vc_column_text css=”.vc_custom_1656432643915{padding-top: 25px !important;}”]


  1. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Neurodevelopmental disorders. In Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
  2. American Psychological Association. (2012). Understanding Alcohol Use Disorders and their treatment. American Psychological Association. Retrieved June 16, 2022
  3. Chinnusamy, M., Eugin, P. R., & Janakiraman, S. (2021). A Study on the Effect of Alcoholism on the Family Members of Alcoholic Patients. Journal of Health and Allied Sciences NU, 11(02), 066-072.
  4. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2021). Alcohol and the brain: An overview. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Retrieved June 16, 2022



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As we continue to grow Amatus Health, the need to stay competitive and differentiate ourselves in unique ways is crucial. Building creative approaches to reach more people will take our company to new heights. This is why I am pleased to announce that we are officially rebranding. Our new national name, TruHealing Addiction & Mental Health Treatment, will eventually replace Amatus Recovery Centers.

You may be asking, “Why are we doing this?” This new name will give us national uniformity and help brand ourselves as a whole, which will be done in phases. You will still see our existing facility names co-branded with TruHealing for the time being.

Healing is what we do. Everyone who comes through our doors is in a moment of profound struggle in their lives. We support them through a life-changing process of healing and recovery, and they leave our facilities changed. This new name is a representation of that process. As mentioned above, it also allows us to have a national brand, which will make us a recognizable name in the addiction and mental health field.

In summation, these changes present an excellent opportunity for our organization to develop our mission, vision, and purpose. I look forward to prosperous growth as we head in a new and positive direction.


Mark Signature

Mark Gold
Amatus Health

Dr. Adam Cusner, PhD is an organizational psychologist by training and has brought his decade-plus experience to the healthcare field serving as the Executive Vice President of Operations for a 22-facility portfolio of skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and independent living centers across Ohio and Arizona, with an annual revenue over $250MM. While serving in this position, Dr. Cusner brought accelerated growth to these facilities, while increasing employee retention and workflow optimization. Dr. Cusner has a proven track record in the healthcare industry of providing successful leadership through his financial acumen, strategic planning, interpersonal skills, along with his ability to build strong, effective teams.


Dr. Cusner’s credentials include a Philosophy Doctorate in Organizational Psychology (PhD) from Cleveland State University, a Master of Arts in Psychology (MA) from Boston College with an emphasis on Psychology of Work, a Bachelor of Science in Psychology (BS) from Boston University with an emphasis in Organizational Behavior in Business and is a board-certified Nursing Home Administrator (LNHA). He has published and presented research articles in the field of organizational psychology at national healthcare conferences. Dr. Cusner is completing a book on organizational psychology in the healthcare field, which is expected to be published late early summer 2022. He is also a member of the American Psychological Association (APA), has served as the APA’s Division 17 communications chair, is a member of the Society for Industrial Organizational Psychologists (SIOP), and was selected as a professional reviewer for national conference research presentations.


Dr. Cusner is an advocate for his employees and is drawn to the tie between culture and quality. His extensive strategic and operational skills have delivered a high degree of success across all department levels. Dr. Cusner facilitated the establishment of an in-house financial team to provide billing and collections, accounts payable, vendor management, along with financial reporting. This provided $1.5MM annualized savings. Further, he developed department efficiencies for: Medical Staff recruitment, service-line growth, quality and safety, corporate accountability of budgetary expectations balanced with direct reporting to investor groups.


Dr. Cusner coordinated the financial turnaround of a 300 bed CCRC (skilled nursing, assisted living and an independent living center) in Arizona, which has been epitomized as the most financially challenging state to manage CCRC facilities. Dr. Cusner also strengthened the business growth of the Ohio facilities by 12%. He was recognized by the Governor for demonstrating a “care-conscious approach” during COVID, when Dr. Cusner carefully consolidated facility residents to accommodate staff and improve clinical care. Dr. Cusner demonstrates a results-driven culture by delivering a high-quality level of care and employee engagement.

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Yaffa Atias is the Director of Special Projects at Amatus Health. Atias is a leadership professional with a decade of experience in healthcare. She holds a BA in interdisciplinary studies from Thomas Edison State College, and a Master’s in Healthcare Management with a concentration in project management from Stevenson University. She completed her graduate capstone at Mosaic Community Services, now an affiliate of Sheppard Pratt.


In her role at Amatus, Atias leads and manages interdisciplinary team projects, creates solutions for any operational gaps, and continually strives for quality improvement in all processes. Atias led the organization’s COVID-19 preparedness strategy, resulting in all facilities remaining operational, and in 600 employees being retained as staff without resigning out of fear. In her role so far, she implemented licensure for three new states.


Atias believes Amatus Health and TruHealing stand out because every employee, from corporate to center staff, has a real passion for helping people. Atias shares this passion, “My natural compass always tugged me to behavioral health. I’ve always been fascinated by the human psyche. I have also been intimately privy to those suffering from mental illness and substance use. I later understood that my experiences weren’t unique, and quickly realized how pressing the need really is to effectively prevent and address. Moreover, how life-changing proper intervention truly is.”


Atias was born in Los Angeles, California and grew up in Israel and Maryland.

Melissa McCarthy is the Vice President of Business Development at Amatus Health. With a decade of experience in the behavioral healthcare and addiction treatment industry, McCarthy is passionate about recovery. She has her finger on the pulse of marketing trends, with the end goal of helping businesses grow so they can serve more people in need.


McCarthy has worked at large enterprise recovery centers across the country spearheading business development teams. She has a wide range of experience, including transforming a third-party digital marketing and client acquisition services company into a full-continuum behavioral healthcare provider, managing several successful rebrands, and growing annual revenue fivefold.


As VP of Business Development, McCarthy leads a team of over 20 business development professionals nationwide. She manages client acquisition, coordinates in-service trainings with various referents and hospitals, and presents at conferences on addiction and mental health disorder treatment.


“Sadly, many individuals die waiting for access to life-saving behavioral healthcare services,” says McCarthy. “I am in relentless pursuit of better—better access, better care delivery and better outcomes. I consider it a privilege to work in an environment where miracles unfold daily.”


McCarthy lives in Maryland with her daughter.

Hometown: Saugus, MA


Passions & interests: The greatest passion of mine is being able to dig into the work with men in early recovery. There is nothing better than witnessing and being a part of the change. My journey in long-term recovery has taught me to value the little things in life that I am now able to do. I love to do anything that allows me to be present with my wife, family, and friends. My wife and I enjoy traveling, trying new foods, and taking long motorcycle rides with our friends. If I am not on the road working or with my wife, I am studying or playing softball.


The best part of my job is being able to show up for my team and clients; they all mean the world to me. I get to brainstorm and strategize with tons of different personalities. A lot of the team does not know, but I love learning from them. If I am not learning something about our industry or workplace, I am certainly learning how to effectively collaborate with different types of individuals.


Together, we can change the narrative and be a part of the solution to better treat those trapped in the problem.

Allison was born in Columbus, Ohio and was raised in South Florida. She graduated from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. After college, Allison started working at the largest talent agency in the world, William Morris Endeavor. There, she learned marketing from top leaders specializing in global PR and endorsement campaigns, in both the Latin and English markets.


Through strategic public relations and creative campaign concepts, Allison has secured more than 200 national broadcast and print media placements for behavioral healthcare organizations. She brings over 15 years of marketing and PR experience, with a strong background in leading communications strategy for addiction treatment and behavioral healthcare facilities. In her role as VP of Communications, she oversees branding, public relations, social media, marketing, events, and content creation.


In her spare time, she loves cooking, boating, yoga, and traveling. She and her husband Bryan reside in Boca Raton, Florida.

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Avi Burstein is VP of Clinical Services at Amatus Health. He manages all therapeutic programming at all facilities nationwide.


Avi is originally from New York, and graduated from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He brings over 13 years of experience in the Behavioral Healthcare Industry, in both the public and private sectors. He is passionate about therapeutic communities and the fellowship they foster between patients. Through his work in LGBTQIA, urban, rural, and religiously observant populations, Avi recognizes that each patient is unique. Therefore, he strives to ensure clinical approaches, staffing, administration, and education meet the expectation of each community Amatus Health serves.


“Our work must also include ending the societal stigma surrounding such conditions by building safe and supportive networks that include clients’ families whenever possible,” Avi said. “By valuing change and owning imperfections, we can strive to be better providers and walk through the door of recovery with our clients.”

Avi Burstein is VP of Clinical Services at Amatus Health. He manages all therapeutic programming at all facilities nationwide.


Avi is originally from New York, and graduated from Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. He brings over 13 years of experience in the Behavioral Healthcare Industry, in both the public and private sectors. He is passionate about therapeutic communities and the fellowship they foster between patients. Through his work in LGBTQIA, urban, rural, and religiously observant populations, Avi recognizes that each patient is unique. Therefore, he strives to ensure clinical approaches, staffing, administration, and education meet the expectation of each community Amatus Health serves.


“Our work must also include ending the societal stigma surrounding such conditions by building safe and supportive networks that include clients’ families whenever possible,” Avi said. “By valuing change and owning imperfections, we can strive to be better providers and walk through the door of recovery with our clients.”

Marty Markovits is the Chief Information Officer at TruHealing. He oversees the people, processes, and technologies of the whole organization to ensure the business is running smoothly.


Markovits grew up in Brooklyn, NY (which he calls “the greatest city on Earth”) and graduated with a degree in Clinical Psychology from Queens College.


Markovits is a veteran in Information Technology within the healthcare field. He ensures that IT processes are simple, cost-effective, and secure. His expertise spans the entire healthcare domain, from billing and claims, to clinical, to Human Resources. He says, “My passion is to provide fully automated and operationally meaningful Business Intelligence analytics, with absolute data integrity.”

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Hometown: Savannah, GA


Passions & Interests: I spend my time outside of work with my wife and children and am actively involved in various community needs and causes.


The best part of my job is knowing that we are creating a safe, healthy, nonjudgmental environment where people can come and better their lives. There is nothing more satisfying than helping others learn to live again and piece their lives back together as they become strong, productive members of society.

Together, we can bring families back together and promote healing and well-being.


With over 16 years of proven executive leadership and driving company growth, Mark Gold’s momentum for success isn’t slowing down anytime soon. He serves as the CEO of Amatus Health, one of the fastest-growing, behavioral healthcare organizations in the country.

Possessing an excellent handling of clinical compliance and high performance standards, Mark established 14 CARF/JCT accredited addiction and mental health treatment centers and three ancillary healthcare businesses. Mark’s natural leadership skills as well as his creative thought process to generate new revenue strategies make him one of the most sought-after professionals in healthcare. Mark has a track record of leading organizations to outstanding ROI on overall portfolio performance. In addition, his expertise includes workforce planning, growth revenue, high client and investor satisfaction.

Aside from daily business oversight, Mark invests in his staff and helps build their professional development. His commitment to his colleagues and employees toward advancement and inclusiveness helps them achieve goals, builds connections, and provides a competitive advantage in the healthcare field.

Corporate and Charitable Leadership

Mark has been instrumental in building healthy communities and providing access and quality healthcare to underserved populations. His service in the community is a testament to his passion and selfless dedication to the cause of eradicating addictive disorders and stigma.

He launched several prevention and education programs and created the first-ever “Social Justice” scholarship fund of over $750,000.00 to help communities of color into inpatient drug treatment. Mark says, “The best part of my role is the knowledge that what we do impacts countless lives, with far-reaching effects,” he said. “It is incredibly rewarding to be part of a team that guides individuals onto a safe and accessible path to healing and recovery.”

He is a board member of Ahavas Chaim, a non-profit that offers at-risk teenagers crisis intervention and mental health support. He is also a committee member of the organizations Bonei Olam and Chai Lifeline Mid-Atlantic.

Personal and Educational Background

Mark studied Talmudic Law at Yeshiva’s Mir Yerushalayim in Israel. In Mark’s free time, he loves snowboarding, boating, and spending time with his wife and children.