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Sober Stories: Bailey*

How’d you decide to get sober?

I knew that my drinking had gotten heavier in the pandemic. As I started getting better with my eating disorder, I didn’t have an outlet for anxiety.

When COVID hit, I had recently started my business [as a therapist]. I had to change everything to telehealth and figure out scheduling. I was super overworked and compartmentalizing a lot of my own stuff.

I got to a place where I felt like I needed to have a buzz to sleep. Otherwise I was so anxious at night, trying to process my own shit while holding stuff for other people. I felt like all my coping tools went out the window.

Then one night in fall 2020, my wife and I were hanging out with friends outside socially distanced. I blacked out and don’t remember a lot of the night, but I do remember that I did real harm to my relationship. That was kind of a wakeup call for me. I was like, “I’m not in a space where I have good coping tools right now, so I’m going to try not drinking and see what happens.”

I will say: the withdrawal process sucked.

Yeah, that first two and a half months, I was so exhausted; I have never been that tired in my life. My brain was so foggy. Then for a couple weeks I was ecstatic, and eventually it went back to baseline.

Yeah, I had really bad headaches, brain fogginess, and exhaustion. Then one day I woke up and had the most mental clarity I’d ever had in my entire life. I felt the most in tune with my mind, body, and spirit I had ever been. That mental clarity has helped me deal with my own trauma in therapy in a way I wasn’t able to do before. And being sober completely saved my marriage.

Another thing was that I came from an evangelical family, and right after undergrad when I was still closeted, I married a man. I hated having sex, so I would get blackout drunk to not remember. I was also sexually assaulted by a really close friend when I was in grad school, so I was using alcohol as a way to forget what was happening. 

When the pandemic hit, I fell into an old pattern. I was like “I don’t have coping tools for this, and I’m supposed to hold space for other people?” I felt like I was failing as a new therapist.

What was it like getting sober during the pandemic?

Honestly, I think it was easier than if I had tried to do it when we could go out. So much of my social life revolved around alcohol.

I was quarantined with a partner who has never had any issues with alcohol or substances. I have a bunch of friends who have also gone through this who were like, “I’ve got you.” I was able to reach out to you and other folks, and I realized there were more people out there. I think it was really important to find queer community with sobriety.

What are some things you do for your recovery?

I’m finding things to do that don’t involve alcohol, like roller skating. My wife and I have been hiking every weekend. I’ve gotten back into yoga. I’ve been getting more into astrology, as a tool for journaling and introspection. I’m in therapy. I’ve been doing inner child work, which has been really helpful as a closeted queer child who had to live in an oppressive family environment.

My anxiety can be a protector in some ways; it doesn’t want me to feel rejection, hurt, shame or guilt. Sometimes when a caregiver part or an anxious part can’t keep those vulnerable spaces from activating, we have what’s called reactive parts.  That’s alcohol use, suicidal or intrusive thoughts, binge-watching or scrolling mindlessly on our phones, dissociating. Those reactive parts are like, “This is how we squash those feelings.” I’ve been thinking of it as, “How can I balance this, so all these parts work in tandem?”

Just yesterday in therapy I talked about rethinking the times people had called me self-destructive. I was like, “I’m realizing it’s the opposite; I was trying to take care of myself.” I identify as having an addiction, but I don’t think it’s just alcohol. Getting rid of alcohol was really important for me to do a lot of work. But I also have a history of eating disorders, and I do a lot of things in compulsive ways to try to squash that anxiety, trauma, and pain.

Yeah, internal family systems is the therapeutic technique. I use it a lot in my own profession, but I’ve been using it a lot with myself. There can be good anxiety; it can give you warning signs for danger or anxious butterflies when you’re excited. But if your anxiety is driving you, you’re losing your core self. I try to show gratitude for those parts—and one thing that has been really hard is to show gratitude for those restricting or drinking parts. Yeah, they’re undesirable, but they got me through some really hard times.

I acknowledge that this stuff had intentions to protect me, but I also hold myself accountable and make right for how I’ve hurt other people.

What are some of the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself since you got sober?

I have so much more energy. I was able to detox from an antidepressant I’ve been on for over a decade that has really scary side effects. I found out about an underlying health issue that affected fatigue, attention, and focus, and got treatment for it. I don’t know if I would have ever known. I feel more present in my body. I’m coming to a place of feeling neutral about it, and I’ve never felt neutral about it.

I’ve also noticed that I’m able to connect better with the folks I’m working with.

At first, I felt really ashamed, because I was like, “I’m a therapist; I’m not supposed to be fucked up.” But I realized that my experiences give me a different thought process and set of skills than just reading out of a textbook. Not that I’m disclosing about it, but I have these tools that I have worked on, so I can validate people in a very genuine way.

That was all the questions I had, but is there anything you want to add?

At first, I was having a lot of imposter syndrome around sobriety. I was really wrapped up in labels. I was like, “Am I an alcoholic? Am I not?” Then I realized: I don’t think it matters. The fact is that I was using alcohol in an unhealthy way.

I think it’s nice that all the folks I’ve talked to have different ideas of sobriety. Just because my situation is different than another person’s doesn’t mean they’re not both valid. The beauty of hearing other people’s stories is realizing that there is no one way.

 

*Name has been changed

 

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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.

Sincerely,

Mark signature

Mark Gold
CEO
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.

MARK GOLD, CEO OF AMATUS HEALTH BIOGRAPHY

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.