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Anxiety and Addiction

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Anxiety Disorders & Substance Abuse 

It’s common for individuals with substance use disorders to develop anxiety use disorders and vice versa. Anxiety and addiction are the two most common psychiatric disorders in the United States. 


When someone has co-occurring anxiety and substance abuse disorders, they have a dual diagnosis. 


Anxiety and addiction are highly correlated to genetics, stress levels, and traumatic experiences. Dual diagnosis typically requires comprehensive treatment that takes both disorders into account.

Prevalence of Anxiety Disorders & Addiction

The National Alliance on Mental Illness reports that 9.5 million Americans have an anxiety disorder and substance use disorder (SUD) in 2019. 


Both anxiety and substance abuse are linked to significant changes in similar brain regions. This is one possible reason for the high prevalence of co-occurrence between addiction and anxiety disorders. 


According to the American Psychological Association (APA), around half of all people seeking treatment for addiction or anxiety have co-occurring disorders. The APA also notes that five out of 10 people with anxiety or depression also have a substance use disorder.


Anxiety Disorder Symptoms & Substance Abuse Disorders

When someone feels fear, stress, or unease, it can be a normal response to a potential threat. But those with anxiety disorders experience overwhelm and fear that often interfere with their daily lives. 

Anxiety disorders diagnosis include: 

  • generalized anxiety disorder 
  • social anxiety disorder (social phobia) 
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) 
  • panic disorders 
  • post-traumatic stress disorders (PTSD) 
  • complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD) 

Symptoms of Anxiety Disorders

Each person will have symptoms unique to their specific anxiety disorder. An official diagnosis will need to be made by a healthcare professional. 


The most common traits experienced by those with an anxiety disorder include: 


  • excessive worry or anxious thought patterns that are difficult to control 
  • debilitating anxiety that interferes with everyday life
  • rapid heart rate
  • muscle tension 
  • shortness of breath
  • avoiding people, places, or things that are associated with feelings of fear

Symptoms of Addiction

Drug and alcohol abuse often increases “feel good” chemicals such as dopamine in the brain. This can lead to extremely high levels of dopamine which hijack the reward system. If continued, this change may become permanent. 


Although no two addictions are exactly alike, common symptoms of addiction include: 


  • changes in mood and behavior 
  • withdrawing from friends and family 
  • compulsive drinking or drug use (despite adverse consequences) 
  • trouble slowing or stopping drinking or drug use 
  • drug or alcohol tolerance or withdrawal symptoms 
  • intense cravings 


Substance abuse can also worsen anxiety symptoms, causing increased substance abuse to self-medicate. Luckily, substance-induced anxiety symptoms usually disappear with treatment. 


People with a dual diagnosis will likely experience a combination of symptoms from both disorders. 

Potential Risk Factors

When two or more disorders are present, one doesn’t necessarily cause the other. Instead, having one can increase the risk of developing another disorder. 


Risk factors include genetics, health, and your environment. All of which can influence the development of co-occurring disorders. Addiction and mental health disorders are associated with changes in brain chemistry. 


A change in brain chemistry can mean someone with a generalized anxiety disorder is more vulnerable to the effects of alcohol and drugs. It’s relatively common for people with undiagnosed anxiety disorders to abuse drugs and alcohol as a form of coping. 


Certain drugs, like cocaine, may increase the risk of developing a mental illness. The risk increases when substance abuse occurs in adolescence because the brain is still in development. 


Dual Diagnosis Treatment for Anxiety & Addiction

When someone experiences an anxiety disorder in addition to addiction, it can feel very overwhelming, but help is available. Treatment requires both diseases to be addressed with a multidisciplinary treatment approach. 


Comprehensive treatment involves teams of doctors and specialists working to treat co-occurring disorders. Therapists and addiction specialists are just a couple of the healthcare professionals that may be involved in treatment.  

Depending on your unique needs, treatment may include:


Inpatient medical detox programs prepare people for addiction treatment through the complex withdrawal process. Detox is a vital step in dual diagnosis treatment because substance withdrawal symptoms can trigger or worsen anxiety symptoms. 


Residential or Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment programs are live-in, long-term treatment that provides mental health treatment and addiction treatment from professionals. Residential programs offer structure through daily schedules that may include healthy activities, support groups, family therapies, and behavioral health therapies.


Outpatient Treatment

Outpatient programs range in intensity and can be helpful for those at the end of their recovery process or with less severe addictions. These program types are generally not recommended for people with dual diagnoses as they don’t provide enough support to heal from multiple disorders at once.


Behavioral Health Therapy

Behavioral health therapy is a crucial part of treatment that targets behavior patterns associated with substance abuse and mental illness. Each behavioral therapy aims to improve negative thoughts, beliefs, and behaviors. 


Types of behavioral health therapy include: 


  • cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) 
  • dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) 
  • Acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT) 
  • contingency management (CM) 
  • motivational interviewing (MI)

Medication-Assisted Treatment

Medications are sometimes paired with behavioral health therapy to help treat anxiety disorders. Many drugs used to treat anxiety and panic attacks include benzodiazepines like Xanax, which have a high risk of abuse. 



Mental health professionals may prescribe other non-addictive medications like antidepressants to decrease the risk of substance abuse. Specific serotonin inhibitors (SSRIs) include Paxil or Prozac, which can effectively treat anxiety and addiction.


Anxiety & Addiction Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Q: Which substance use disorders frequently co-occur with an anxiety disorder?

A: Anxiety disorders are commonly linked to stimulant abuse. Because the withdrawal symptoms of a drug are often the inverse of its effects, stimulants like meth or cocaine cause high energy when withdrawing. They cause high anxiety. This can significantly increase the risk of developing an anxiety disorder. 


Q: Does an anxiety disorder increase the risk of alcohol abuse?

A: On average, people with an anxiety disorder are two to three times more likely to develop an alcohol use disorder (AUD) than the rest of the population. 


AUD co-occurs with several types of anxiety disorders, including generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorders, PTSD, CPTSD, OCD, and social anxiety. 


You Don’t Have To Go It Alone

If you or a loved one would like more information on dual diagnosis treatment, TruHealing Centers can help. Contact us today to discuss your treatment options with an addiction treatment specialist. 

Lets Recover Together.



American Psychological Association – Mental Illness and Drug Addiction may Co-Occur Due to Disturbance in the Brain’s Seat of Anxiety and Fear

National Alliance of Mental Illness – Substance Use Disorders


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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.