Call for Immediate Help: (833) 641-0572

Sober Stories: Doug


What led you to get sober?

The Drug Enforcement Administration, basically.

I’d been drinking and drugging for about 30 years. The last two years, I was using crystal meth heavily. I had a $500 a day habit, and to keep that going I had to sell a lot of drugs. Eventually the DEA put me behind bars, and then they sent me to drug treatment.

It was definitely a rock bottom. But it turned out to be a rock bottom that really saved my life, because I’m not sure I could have stopped without that.

Had there been times you’d thought about stopping?

Yeah, there had been a number of times. In fact, about a year before that happened, I went to an outpatient psych center for a depression evaluation. Every time I came down from crystal meth—which was more and more rare as time went on—I would go into these crashing depressions. I thought, “If I didn’t have these depressions, maybe I wouldn’t use.”

I did a three-hour intake with this outpatient psych place, and at the end they said, “We believe you’re having depression. We could probably help you with that, but we can’t do anything until you stop using drugs.” I walked out just kind of angry: “If you would just treat my depression, I wouldn’t have to use all these drugs.”

A year later, I owed several suppliers for drugs and really wanted to get out of the business, so I sold my last chunk of stuff. I had an appointment with my HIV doctor the next day; my plan was to get back on HIV drugs and see if he could help me get treatment. But as I was selling the last bit, a friend who was also one of my suppliers showed up with a bag full of drugs. I thought, “Well, if I’m going to quit tomorrow, might as well have a good time today.”

We had just started getting high when the police broke in and arrested both of us. Chances are pretty good I would have just kept getting high and canceled the doctor’s appointment the next day, so the DEA stepped in at just the right moment. I’ve been sober for 16 years now.

What are the biggest changes you’ve noticed in yourself since?

I feel like I’ve been through a real transformation. I’m better able to deal with life. Since I got sober, I’ve had my psychiatric issues addressed. I’ve been on antidepressants all these years; it has really helped keep me stable while I’ve worked through the underlying psychological stuff that drives depression. 

Things that would upset me massively in the past and would certainly drive me to drink or use drugs—I don’t have that impulse anymore. I’m able to live happily and free of drugs. I feel more confident and secure in myself.

I’m very engaged in 12-step programs and helping people get sober through them. I had been a little unsure about 12-step recovery initially, because there’s a lot of God talk in that. Shortly after I started recovery, I converted to Buddhism. I had a sponsor in 12-step programs who had a broad enough understanding of spirituality that he could support that move on my part. He said, “Maybe that’s where your higher power is.”

So I started studying and practicing with a lot of energy and commitment. I found that practicing Buddhism filled the spiritual emptiness I had—that I didn’t even know I had.

So 12-step and spiritual practices are part of your recovery. Can you go further into that, or talk about other things you do for your program?

In the beginning, I was very enthusiastic with my Buddhism practice. For two and a half years, I lived in a Buddhist study center. We lived Buddhism 24 hours a day. It was a safe place for me to go when I was newly sober. I learned a lot and took lots of classes. Since then, my Buddhist practice has evolved. I’ve tried lots of different traditions and practices.

I practice the 12 steps in a number of programs, which has been key to keeping myself sober. At this point, I go to a couple of meetings per week that are sort of 12-step-based, but more meditation.

It helps. My practice had gotten a little shabby there for a while, especially during quarantine. I was glad I could find meetings and support on Zoom.

Yeah, I was going to ask whether the pandemic impacted your recovery.

Definitely. In the beginning, I was just terrified. Not so much about my addiction as about the virus, because I’m HIV positive. I felt extremely vulnerable. That terror I guess could have led me to using, but I was afraid enough that I wouldn’t go out seeking lower companions, as they say.

Zoom meetings have helped a lot. The 12-step programs reacted quickly, within days of quarantine. One of the advantages of using Zoom is if I’m up in the middle of the night and need a meeting, there’s one somewhere in the world I can go to. My regularly scheduled meetings also moved to Zoom; it’s meant I’ve been able to hear voices I wouldn’t have otherwise, because people who aren’t able to travel to meetings can join.

A big frustration has been having no human-to-human contact. Lots of people I talk to in recovery say the same thing. It’s very helpful to have these Zoom meetings, but it’s kind of disembodying. In-person meetings are starting to come back, but man, it was a rough winter. We were all suffering from a lot of loneliness, and loneliness is hard for someone who’s trying to stay away from drugs.

Zoom is good up to a point, but I miss my friends. That’s what recovery has really been about for me: I have made all these wonderful friends. We care about each other, look out for each other, and help each other.

Yeah, that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed too. I don’t do a 12-step program, but my friends and family have been a huge part of my recovery. We did Zoom when it got cold, but it’s not the same.

I did wonder—when you were talking about 12-step meetings and some of the benefits and increased access of having the video calls—if some of them will continue with online meetings.

I’m hearing a lot of groups talk about either starting Zoom-only or doing hybrid meetings, because there are real advantages to online meetings. I don’t think they’re going to go away; I just think they’re going to supplement the in-person meetings.

Those are my questions. Is there anything you want to add?

I think the message I can bring that maybe not everyone can is that even after 30 years, I was able to get sober. I drank and used drugs from age 12 until 42. At 42 I had a terrible crash and burn. I expected I was going to spend the rest of my life in prison or die. In fact that’s not what happened. I found treatment first, and then I found supportive recovery outside of treatment.

Sometimes people think, “I’ve been using so long; there’s no way I could get sober.” Recovery is possible for everyone. It’s possible to live a life free of drugs and alcohol however you find it, whether it’s in 12-step or other modalities. It’s never too late to build a happy life for yourself.


Start TruHealing Today

100% Confidential | 24/7 Helpline


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.

Empty Bio

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.

Empty Bio

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.”

Empty Bio

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. glucotrust