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Sober Stories: Charlie

What led you to get sober?

There was a series of thoughts. The first was I was starting my medical transition, and part of getting on hormones is having a psych evaluation. I did the psych eval and they identified that I had an alcohol abuse problem. By the time I saw my therapist for the first time, I was a week sober. I didn’t want to wait until I started therapy; it seemed dumb to keep giving myself excuses to drink.

The secondary thought was, “You have to take better care of yourself, and you can’t because you drink too much.” I started thinking about what I wanted for my future, and I was like, “I want to be a dad; I want to be a husband; I don’t want to be somebody’s drunkass dad or drunkass husband.” That’s how you end up losing your family or fucking them up. I didn’t want to do that.

So I decided I was going to be sober for 30 days, and if that made any difference, I would stick to it; if it didn’t, I would try something else. That was probably the most difficult 30 days of my life. It was the first time in like a decade that I hadn’t had a drink for days at a time. It felt like I had a hangover for 30 days.

Yeah, that’s kind of how mine was.

Yeah, it sucks because you know that if you drink it’ll go away. I would make myself sit in the apartment and watch the clock until 2 [in the morning]. Then I could go on a walk, because 2 is when all the bars close. I got a Planet Fitness membership because it was 24 hours. I started working a lot, then making sure that when I wasn’t at work, I had things to do to fill that space.

Then day 31, I didn’t feel like shit anymore. I felt a lot of emotions, but I didn’t feel sick. I was going to therapy to sort through those emotions three times a week at that point; it was a good way to hold myself accountable.

I was realizing, since I started drinking when I was 12, I didn’t know who I was sober. Getting to know myself sober while I was medically transitioning really linked those two experiences for me. I was able to get to know myself as I was becoming the man I knew I wanted to be.

Early in my transition, my best friend said, “I wish people thought less about what it meant to be a good man or a good woman and focused more on being a good person. What kind of person do you want to be?” I thought a lot about that, and I want to be the kind of person that is dependable; I want to be the kind of person that is consistent; I want to be the kind of person that keeps his word. Those are things you can’t do when you’re drinking, or when you’re succumbing to whatever your substance of choice is.

I also started experiencing gender euphoria for the first time in my life. Feeling handsome, secure, and confident in my appearance made being sober easier, because I wasn’t so stressed about hating myself all the time. I started practicing what I think of as radical self-love. I had sticky notes all over my apartment, little reminders like, “You’re amazing; you’re doing a great job.” I was overcharging everything with as much love as I could, because I had never done that before.

Then three months in, I started working at the GLCCB and had more access to community than I’d ever had in my entire life. Not only did I know trans people—these trans people knew and loved and respected me. I never felt like I was somebody worth giving a fuck about, which is probably why I spent so long not taking care of myself. But once I started taking care of myself, I discovered somebody who really does deserve better than I was giving me for a long time.

That’s a really beautiful way of putting it.

Yeah, you know? I have learned that it’s none of our faults how we got fucked up—and even how we learned to cope with being fucked up—but at a certain point you have to take responsibility for healing yourself. If you don’t do it, nobody else is going to and you’re just going to be fucked up for the rest of your life.

Yeah, and you’ll take it out on other people.

And not have nice things. I wanted nice things. I wanted a partner who loved and cared about me. I wanted better than what I had, and I finally had the clarity to realize that part of why I didn’t have what I wanted was because I was getting in my way. As soon as I allowed myself to heal, everything started getting better. Then six months in, I was so scared I was going to lose all the nice things I got that I was like, “I’ll never drink again.”

You kind of answered the next question, but I was going to ask about the biggest internal changes you’ve noticed since you got sober.

I know myself to be a good person, and I know I’m a good person because I do my best to be.  I’m never half-there, I’m never half-present, I’m never half-stepping—not anymore. I’m able to make decisions I can stand behind and be proud of. I’m able to create genuine connections with people and show up for people the way I know they deserve.

I also am much more protective of myself. I don’t let people treat me any kind of way, because I don’t treat me any kind of way anymore. I love and respect myself, and those are things that weren’t true before.

Getting sober also left space for dealing with other things, like I was too drunk to be on antidepressants; I was too drunk to be on anxiety medication. Now I’m aware of the work that I need to do and I’m doing it.

I know you said you go to therapy. What does your recovery program look like?

I go to therapy once a week. I also see a psychiatrist once a month, so that’s a big part of my recovery plan. Doing things like going to the doctor regularly. Making sure I’m taking care of myself, because I only ever get tempted to drink when I’m super stressed, and I only get super stressed if I’m not taking care of myself.

Also, learning how to be gentle in communication and the things I need, and not be an asshole or selfish. I think a lot of my recovery is unlearning those bad habits. Some things are easier to stop doing than others. It was very easy for me to stop lying. It was very easy for me to stop saying I was going to do some shit and not do it. It wasn’t easy for me to stop impulse spending—that’s something I’m consistently working on.

At one point, I got kind of complacent. I had to remind myself that you get two states as an addict: you’re either active or in recovery. If you’re in recovery, that is a consistent, everyday decision. Even if it’s more subconscious on some days than others, it’s still a decision every single day.

That’s all my questions. Is there anything we didn’t talk about that you want to add?

For anybody who’s considering getting sober, or maybe you have a problem, three things: one, that’s okay; you’re not the only person in the world who has unhealthy coping skills. We all do. Two, you deserve better, and you have to be the first person to know that. Three, there is a community of people waiting with open arms to support and love you throughout this process.

Sobriety is something you do for yourself, but I don’t believe it’s something you can do by yourself. Just know that as soon as you make that decision, there’s a community of people who will be there for you—and I promise, you will be very delighted with the person you see on the other side.

WE’RE ONE CALL AWAY.

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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.