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Emotional Sobriety vs. Abstinence

Peter Marinelli

 

When we are ready to put the drugs and alcohol down, many of us believe that sobriety is only about living without being hopelessly bound to substances. However, true sobriety is much more. Merely abstaining from drugs and alcohol is great – our minds clear up, we stop feeling the dreaded withdrawal symptoms that we ran from, and we can pass a drug test without a second thought.

 

The problem with solely being abstinent is that, for many of us, addiction is a three-fold disease which affects the mind, body, and spirit. It affects the mind because we have trouble differentiating the true from the false. It affects the body because when we take one, the phenomenon of craving ensues and we compulsively take another. Most importantly, it affects the spirit, because without living a spiritual life, we are left with a malady that will likely leave us desolate and miserable.

Abstinence: Is it Enough?

While in the midst of addiction, many of us develop unhealthy habits. Many of us lack healthy coping skills and are unable to foster healthy relationships. Many of us have a fairly negative self-image and get caught up focusing on the negatives in life. Worst of all, most of us are self-centered – we are always looking to manipulate the world around us to give us what we want. By merely abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we aren’t changing ourselves. We aren’t addressing our thought patterns, our behaviors, our relationships, or our spiritual connection. When these essential human aspects are neglected, we are bound to be overwhelmed by feelings of irritability, discontent, and restlessness.

 

Abstinence is defined as the practice of not doing or having something that is wanted or enjoyable. If drugs and alcohol were still enjoyable, we wouldn’t have sought out a recovery retreat. If we still view drugs and alcohol as something fun or as something that we want to do, many of us are bound to relapse. When we hit rock bottom, we are in a dark place. This is a place where the substances that were our solution to a spiritual malady for so long have quit working. They have become ineffective in managing our emotions.

 

Rather than letting go of the substances only, true sobriety that reaps happiness and joy comes from attaining emotional sobriety.

Emotional Sobriety

It is within emotional sobriety that we attain true peace of mind and purpose in our lives. Emotional sobriety involves letting go of our old selves and continuously trying to grow spiritually and emotionally. In emotional sobriety, our lives revolve around acting upon spiritual principles. A few ways that we do this include living in the moment, helping others, making amends, and maintaining healthy relationships.

Living in the moment

Living in the present moment means we are not obsessively worrying about what is in our future, whether it be tomorrow, next week, or years from now. It means we are not spending lengthy amounts of time feeling sorry for ourselves over the mistakes we have made in the past. When we are living in the moment, we are taking time, each day, to meditate and breathe deeply. We are practicing becoming aware of our surroundings and are counting the blessings that we have been given.

 

Living in the moment also means taking the waves as they crash into us – it involves accepting events for what they are rather than obsessively trying to control and manage situations. Practicing acceptance and meditation are the keys to actively living in the present. After all, the past and future are entirely out of our control. All we have is the moment at hand.

Letting go of self-centered thinking

In step 3, we say the third step prayer and ask our higher power to guide our thinking so that we can be of maximum service to others. When we complete our steps, we learn that our primary purpose is to carry the message of recovery to the next sick and suffering alcoholic and addict.

 

When we are practicing emotional sobriety, we are continually asking ourselves how our actions will benefit others. We are looking for people to help, speaking to newcomers at meetings, and are actively trying to think of others. Thinking of others not only helps the other person, but it helps us as well. It instills within us a sense of purpose and a feeling of joy. A life run on self-centered thinking and self-will is usually not a happy one.

Cleaning up the past

Most of us have caused harm to those we love while in active addiction. However, living an emotionally sober life means having the willingness to take responsibility for these wrongs and set out to correct them. In step 9, we set out to make amends and clean up the wreckage of our past. In these amends, we aren’t only demonstrating our regret for the harm we have caused, but we are inquiring about exactly how we can fix it.

 

Often times, cleaning up the past simply means changing our behaviors and treating others the right way. Sometimes, it can mean paying off old financial debts, fulfilling a prior obligation, and showing the willingness to change. Cleaning up the past gives us the ability to heal old wounds that have been festering, be relieved of guilt, and give our loved ones the chance to heal, too.

Fostering healthy relationships

In active addiction, fair-weather friends were common. They were there when we had something to offer them, but they didn’t really care about our well-being. When we come into recovery communities and twelve-step fellowships, we find that we are bound to one another by unique ties based upon common experiences and goals. We have all reached the dark depths that our addictions took us to and we are all aiming to live free from bondage.

 

In emotional sobriety, we develop friendships that are based on love, compassion, and tolerance. We set boundaries so that others don’t walk all over us, and we actively think of what we can offer within our relationships. We don’t use others for our own gain, but rather truly enjoy the presence of our support group. Not only are these relationships mutually beneficial, but they provide a sense of support and stability. Friends who have emotional sobriety will answer the phone when it rings, they will show up when others are in need, and they will be there to lend a listening ear during good times and bad.

Recovery Retreat in South Florida

At Peter Marinelli’s recovery retreat in South Florida, guests will be immersed in spiritual principles and will learn the importance of emotional sobriety so that each and every person can recover from the disease of addiction.

 

“Grounded in spiritual principles Through The Archway’s philosophy is simple and straightforward; it relies heavily on a culture of wellness and an attitude of willingness. Residents are introduced to the sober community and are provided with a rigorous course of action starting with education and ending with transformation. This is done through our own copyrighted workbook authored by our founder and CEO, Peter Marinelli.”

 

Blessings,
Chop wood, carry water

 

 

 

 

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Marion Weston, executive director

MARION WESTON

Executive Director

Marion Weston, Certified Interventionist, has been sober since November of 1989. Since then, she has sponsored many women through the 12-steps as well as being heavily involved in service. Also, Marion has led step workshops and has given talks in Nebraska, South Florida, Washington, New Jersey, Sweden and many other venues.

She has been involved since her first days in recovery with her Church and has enjoyed years of success in the chemical addiction field. Originally from Bellingham, Washington, Marion now resides in South Florida. Her favorite phrase is “turning scars into stars”.

Peter and Marion have a combined sobriety time of nearly 60 years, and a combined 40 years being in service to others in the field of treating substance use disorder.

Marion has been involved in recovery for over 25 years. She has walked many women down the path of recovery on both a personal and public level. Having been a part of 1-on-1 mentor-ship in recovery guiding women towards freedom, to leading various workshops to educate groups of men and women on the practical approach to a sober lifestyle. Marion strives to better herself and be of service to those around her.

Women recovering from alcohol addiction sometimes find it extremely difficult to survive without medications, the Through The Archway program helps them learn different dimensions of life and get over with addictions eventually.

Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES, Registered dietitian

ANDREA MORGANSTEIN

REGISTERED DIETICIAN

Andrea Morganstein MS, RD, LDN, CDCES is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist who received her Master’s degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from Florida International University in Miami, Florida. Some of her certifications include weight management, functional nutrition, fitness, and diabetes.  She currents owns a private practice in Davie, Florida and works one-on-one with individuals helping them achieve a healthier lifestyle using conventional nutrition as well as functional/integrative nutrition concepts. 

She started her career in Sports Nutrition and weight management but over the years has expanded her knowledge and expertise to include diabetes, mental health and substance abuse. As a contractor for multiple local addiction and mental health facilities, Andrea shares her passion and knowledge about nutrition in conjunction with behavioral changes with her clients suffering from mental health disorders including disordered eating and substance abuse. She works with them individually as well as in a group setting.

Alex Lizardo, Group facilitator

ALEX LIZARDO

GROUP FACILITATOR

Alex Lizardo is an entrepreneur, writer, speaker, philanthropist, and an unshakable optimist. She is an obsessive learner who spends time reading, writing and creating strategic projects to help individuals make their dreams a reality. She is was born and raised in Venezuela, having moved to the United States in 2010 and established presence as a certified life coach with a specialization in spiritual psychology. A mechanical engineer and marketer by trade, she is currently a yoga and meditation instructor, reiki master, theta healer, and pranic healer. Her work focuses on trauma in inner child wounding and emotional codependency. She is a bonafide mental health advocate, and her passion for helping others is evident in all of her interactions with the Sylvia Brafman family.

Vinny Richards, Group facilitator

VINNY RICHARDS

GROUP FACILITATOR

Vinny Richards is a unique therapist who went from working as an in-house therapist in various treatment centers to being a successful group facilitator bringing motivational enhancement lectures and relapse prevention programs to the mental health therapeutic community. His direct, authentic approach resonates greatly with the patients at SBMHC. Originally hailing from New York City, Vinny has also engaged in individual therapy with hundreds of clients over the last several decades.

Talia DeLuca (ACE, PPSC), Group facilitator

TALIA DELUCA

GROUP FACILITATOR

Ms. Talia DeLuca is certified fitness coach (ACE, PPSC) who is passionate about helping others to understand the important interplay between fitness, exercise, and mental health. She attended Boston College where she received a B.S. in Political Science and minored in Managing for Social Impact. During her time spent at BC Talia earned her personal training certification and became an instructor at the university recreation center. Talia further discovered her passion for fitness and mental health during an internship with Happify in her Junior year of college, where she helped to create an exercise program for app users to alleviate feelings of anxiety and depression. She is now a trainer at Anatomy in Midtown, Miami.

Talia grew up in a small town in Rhode Island and has spent the majority of her life in New England before moving to Miami in June of 2021. Throughout her youth and in school she struggled with anxiety, depression, disordered eating and other mental health challenges. Exercise has become a necessary aspect of her life that has helped her to better manage and overcome these challenges. In addition to training and fitness, Talia loves to spend time with her dog, eat, and travel.

Linda Milano, board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

LINDA MILANO, PMHNP-BC

PSYCHIATRIC NURSE

Mrs. Linda Milano is a board certified Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner who is passionate about incorporating a whole health approach in the treatment of psychiatric disorders. She attended Florida International University where she first received a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, and later a Master’s of Science Degree in Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing. She has over 25 years of experience treating patients with substance abuse and mental illness. She is certified by the American Association of Nurse Practitioners. Mrs. Milano also runs a private practice with over 200 patients. She grew up in a small town in Virginia. When she is not working, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends.

Jim Magner, Director of business development

JIM MAGNER

DIRECTOR OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT

Jim Magner has worked in the field of substance abuse and mental health for the last 15 years. He has always had a passion for helping others. Jim has held many leadership positions over the course of his career and draws on his own recovery experience to assist families and their loved ones.  Born and raised in Lynn, Massachusetts, Jim now lives in Coral Springs with his wife Courtney and 2 kids. When he’s not working or playing with his family, Jim’s hobbies include golfing, fishing, working out and watching Wheel of Fortune, which he was a contestant on back in 2017.

Linda Newman, Primary Therapist

LINDA NEWMAN

PRIMARY THERAPIST

Linda Newman was born and raised in NJ. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Monmouth College followed by her Master’s degree from Georgian Court University. She started my career in 1993 and have been working in the counseling field since then in different arena’s. I started as an A/D adolescent counselor for 5 years until my second child was born. At which time, I took some time off to raise my family. Upon returning to work, I did some counseling in the school setting for some time. I also spent some time on the alliance in my town and assisted in creating programs for the school district regarding alcohol and drug education. She relocated to Florida in 2011 and have been here ever since When I moved to Florida, I went back to SA/MH which I’ve been doing consistently since then. I have 2 amazing children.

Michael Lenok, MA, Primary Therapist

MICHAEL LENOK

PRIMARY THERAPIST

Mr. Michael Lenok, MA, is a primary therapist at SBMHC.  Michael has been working in the field of substance use and mental health disorders since 2017. Michael is proficient with individual therapy and case management. He takes a very personalized and individualistic approach to treatment, and works in collaboration with each and every client to help them realize their true potential. Michael excels at group facilitation. His group curriculum and material is personally created and original. Michael’s unique approach to treatment for co-occurring disorders is something that is unique to SBMHC.

Michael has a Master’s degree in Addiction Counseling: Integrated Recovery for Co-Occurring Disorders from the Hazelden Betty Ford Graduate School of Addiction Studies. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from Syracuse University. Michael is a native New Yorker but is settling in Florida after spending the past 3 years in Washington and Massachusetts. He is a diehard New York Knicks fan, and makes far too many basketball references. He spends most of his free time chilling with his dog, Mamba.

Tricia Taylor, Clinical Nurse

TRICIA TAYLOR

CLINICAL NURSE

Tricia Taylor a detailed oriented Licensed Practical Nurse with extensive experience in business operations, patient services and work well with team members and doctors.

Possesses exceptional team building, communication, and interpersonal skills and the ability to quickly adapt to the ever-changing business environment. Creative problem solver that works closely with doctors and staff to provide real time solutions.

Cynthia Ingram, Director of admissions and case management

CYNTHIA INGRAM

DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS & CASE MANAGEMENT

Ms. Cynthia Ingram has worked in the field of mental health and substance abuse treatment for over 25 years. Cynthia, through her own personal experience, strength, and hope, has worked closely with many treatment centers, community providers, courts and other organizations who walk with the same vision and purpose, to help those who struggle with mental illness. Through this journey her purpose is clear: to give back what was so freely given to her.

Valeska Medel, Director of operations

VALESKA MEDEL

DIRECTOR OF OPERATIONS

Ms. Valeska Medel has been a professional in the healthcare industry for the past 17 years, with a primary focus on the operational and administrative functions. She comes with 15 years of experience as the Executive Assistant to the Administrator for a skilled nursing facility and an additional year as a Business Development associate for a Behavioral Health Hospital. Valeska attend Florida Atlantic University where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Health Administration.

She has certifications from Broward College in Business Operations, Business Specialist, Accounting Technology Operations, and Human Resources Management.

Valeska grew up a small town in Chile and moved to the United States at the age of 28 where she learned and became fluent in English. Outside of work, Valeska enjoys Latin dancing, travel, and cooking.

Jaime Blaustein is Co-Founder and CEO of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

JAIME BLAUSTEIN

CO-FOUNDER & CEO

Credentials & Accolades

  • Credit Suisse – Investment Banking
  • Lord Abbett – Institutional Sales
  • Morgan Stanley & Wells Fargo – Wealth Management
  • Duke University – MBA
  • University of Michigan – BA

Mr. Jaime Blaustein is Co-Founder and CEO of SBMHC. Prior to this role, he was an investment banker at Credit Suisse in its Global Industrials coverage group in New York City. Here he was responsible for advising clients in the basic materials sector on strategic matters, including mergers, acquisitions, divestitures, leveraged buyouts, restructurings and various debt and equity financings. Prior to this role, he worked in institutional sales at Lord Abbett, a mutual fund manager overseeing ~$150 billion in assets under management. He previously worked in wealth management at Morgan Stanley and later Wells Fargo, advising a wide array of clients on investment strategies.

Jaime received his undergraduate degree from the University of Michigan and his M.B.A. from Duke University. He is an unapologetic NY Giants, Duke Blue Devils and Michigan Wolverine fan. His interests include fitness, steakhouses, international travel, meditation retreats, and quality time with friends. Jaime is a newly minted resident of Miami. He is actively involved in sponsoring dozens of men in recovery and is beyond excited to marry his business expertise with his passion for helping others make a comeback from the depths of mental illness and addiction.

Peter Marinelli, executive director

PETER MARINELLI

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Through the Archway

Credentials & Accolades

  • International Circuit – Speaker
  • Certified Interventionist
  • National Council on Alcoholism – Speaker
  • Through The Archway – Founder
  • FHE Health Sober Living Program with Peter Marinelli

Peter Marinelli, Certified Interventionist and published author, has been sober since 1988 and has dedicated his life to helping others recover from alcoholism and drug addiction. The spiritual emersion program at Through The Archway has been created by Peter Marinelli. As an international circuit speaker, Peter has given hundreds of talks across the U.S. and Europe on subjects related to recovery.

He has spoken at numerous treatment centers, universities and medical organizations to both sufferers and clinicians alike. Peter has also been invited to speak for the National Council on Alcoholism and has been a guest on talk radio and has done workshops on spiritual transformation for various religious organizations.

He has spent the majority of his sobriety in the Treatment Center industry. Peter Marinelli’s mission is to help addicts and alcoholics recover from their fatal illness. He is the Founder and CEO of Through the Archway, a 30-day program designed to help suffering addicts reclaim their lives.

Dr. Linda Dolin, Medical Director of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

DR. LINDA DOLIN, MD

MEDICAL DIRECTOR

Credentials & Accolades

  • Destination Hope –  Medical Director
  • House of Hope –  Medical Director
  • Florida Medical Center – Internal Medicine Physician
  • Florida University Hospital – Internal Medicine Physician
  • Milestones in Recovery – Internal Medicine Physician
  • MedPsych Consultants – Founding Partner

Dr. Linda Dolin is the Medical Director of SBMHC. She received her medical degree from Chicago Medical School and went on to complete her residency at Weiss Memorial Hospital in Chicago. Dr. Dolin brings nearly 32 years of experience as a practicing internal medical physician to her role as medical director at The Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center. Her medical practice consists entirely of inpatient and outpatient clients with psychiatric diagnoses.

Dr. Richard Seely, Director of psychiatry

Richard Seely

DIRECTOR OF PSYCHIATRY

Credentials & Accolades

  • Psychiatry & Addiction Medicine – Board Certified
  • Florida Medical Center – Psychiartrist
  • Florida Society of Addiction Medicine – Officer & Director
  • Profes sionals Resource Network – Evaluator & Provider
  • Princeton University – AB
  • Jefferson Medical College – MD

Dr. Richard Seely educated at Princeton University, Jefferson Medical College, and University of Miami residency in psychiatry, Dr. Rick Seely is Board-certified in psychiatry, child and adolescent psychiatry, and addiction psychiatry, and also in addiction medicine by the American Board of Addiction Medicine. He serves as an evaluator and provider for Florida’s Impaired Professionals Programs and for professional sports teams, and as a consultant to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.

Dr. Seely is an addiction medicine psychiatrist who has served as medical director of addiction treatment centers in South Florida since 1990 and has had the privilege of assessing and treating over 100,000 individuals suffering from the disease of addiction. He has taught addiction psychiatry at medical schools for over 35 years and supervises psychiatric resident physicians in addiction medicine.

In long-term recovery from addiction himself, Dr. Seely empathizes with patients and provides clear, consistent, and compassionate guidance in their recovery efforts. He imparts his experience and knowledge in a manner consistent with humility and dedication to spreading the message of hope and recovery.

Ben Brafman, MS, LMHC, CAP, Co-Founder and Clinical Director of Sylvia Brafman Mental Health Center

Ben Brafman

CO-FOUNDER, CHIEF CLINICAL OFFICER

Credentials & Accolades

  • Destination Hope –  President & CEO
  • The Academy for Addiction Professionals – President & CEO
  • Rx Angels – President & CEO
  • Sullivan Pharmacy – President & CEO
  • Barry University – Mental Health Counseling and Family Therapy

Mr. Ben Brafman, MS, LMHC, CAP is Co-Founder and Clinical Director of SBMHC. He has founded a multitude of programs focusing on addiction, men’s issues, eating disorders and personality disorders. Ben was Founder, President and CEO of Destination Hope, a treatment center specializing in substance abuse and mental health disorders, established in 2007. Ben is also the founder, President and CEO of The Academy for Addiction Professionals. The Academy is a school geared toward preparing professionals for the field of addiction by assisting students in getting their CBHT, CAS, CAC, and CAP. Additionally, Ben is also Founder, President and CEO of Rx Angels, a non-profit organization. Its main purpose is to help families that cannot afford medication and treatment for their mentally ill loved ones.

Ben has been in the field of behavioral health for 25 years. He has developed several programs in the South Florida area and has been instrumental in teaching other professionals how to effectively manage their clinical programs. Ben is recognized as a leading authority in behavioral health and a pioneer in clinical services. He is also actively involved in several community services programs. He has helped families all over the country from Atlanta, Georgia to Santa Barbara, California. He is a published author in the area of dual diagnosis and behavioral health. Additionally, Ben is a leading expert in family issues related to addiction and its impact on the system of family, having positively influenced thousands of families in his career.

Ben has a dual Masters from Barry University in Counseling and Family Therapy. Mr. Brafman is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor. He is also a Certified Addiction Professional and trains supervisors in the state of Florida to supervise others effectively. He resides in Parkland, Florida with his wife, Suzanne, and his 3 children Abigail, Jacob and Elijah. He has completed several marathons and is currently working on publishing books in the area of addiction, mental illness and behavioral health.