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Making Amends

Marion Weston and here husband Peter Marinelli

When living a life enslaved to drugs and/or alcohol, it’s no secret that a person’s moral compass is completely challenged. Oftentimes, the individual will go against their own personal values and standards in order to achieve their next fix.

 

Addiction unapologetically destroys most of our relationships with other people. Intimate relationships are perhaps the most dynamic. A very clear cause-and-effect role is played out in almost all interpersonal relationships, especially within an intimate setting. When we are drinking or using drugs manipulation, deceit, self-centeredness, and utter victimization become methods for survival. Most alcoholics and addicts are willing to risk, abandon, and reject anything that stands in the way of their substance of choice.

 

When we make the decision to get sober and we are introduced to the Twelve Steps, we begin to look at where we were wrong and how we may have caused harm to others. It is not uncommon for the alcoholic to feel guilt and shame once he/she begins to look at the wreckage of their past. However, there is an immense amount of courage, faith, and humility behind the process of making amends. From the cradle to the grave, every human makes mistakes and struggles to find a way to make peace with who he/she may have harmed. For the alcoholic, apologies are futile – true healing comes from the process in which we begin to make amends to the person(s) we have harmed.

 

What is a Direct Amend?

In the Fellowship, direct amends refers to the act of personally acknowledging conflict and issues with people who have been harmed by our actions and behaviors towards them. The process of making direct amends is no overnight matter and is suggested to be discussed with counsel before attempting to make amends because we do not want to cause harm to others in order to ease our own suffering. In fact, on page 84 of the Big Book Alcoholics Anonymous directly addresses this process:

 

“Good judgment will suggest that we ought to take our time. While we may be quite willing to reveal the very worst, we must be sure to remember that we cannot buy our own peace of mind at the expense of others.”

 

The process of making amends must be selfless in nature. Making direct amends involves the individual going back to those they have harmed in order to acknowledge their wrongdoings and demonstrate changes in which will cultivate the opportunity for the victim to heal. Wherever possible, a direct amend is made face-to-face rather than over the phone or by asking for a third party to act on your behalf. In other words, the goal is not to communicate a sincere apology with words, but rather demonstrate the sincerity of the apology through the actions of the individual that caused the harm.

 

Apologizing Vs. Making Amends

There are many distinguishable differences between giving someone an apology and making amends with them. In simpler terms, an apology is like putting a band-aid on the wound – it covers up the source of the pain but does not always cultivate total healing. When an individual makes a sincere apology, both parties may receive temporary relief but there is no direct correction to the harm that may have been caused. People who struggle with substance abuse may have made reckless and harmful decisions and cannot simply erase the pain and often irreversible heartache and trauma they may have caused by offering a simple apology. More often than not, the victim of abuse, trauma, neglect, or crime will need a more profound interaction and change implemented within the relationship before any attempt at reconciliation can be achieved.

 

Making direct amends is the most effective way to reconnect and restore the relationships with the people who have been directly affected by the actions and behaviors of an individual struggling with addiction. Rather than masking the harm with the “band-aid” of an apology, we seek to clean out the wound, apply healing ointment, bandage, and nurture the affected area until sufficient time has passed and the victim has a chance to heal. Addiction has the capacity to undoubtedly sever the most intimate bonds between family members and loved ones. Whether you are attempting to make amends to a family member, coworker, or simply humble yourself before innocent bystanders, this process is a vital step towards rectifying a broken relationship.

 

Different Types of Amends

As stated before, there are a number of ways an alcoholic may have to go about making amends. Each harm and situation of conflict is unique and sensitive in nature and must be handled with great compassion, humility, and respect for the victim. Here are a few of the types of amends you may want to consider when making amends.

 

  • Direct Amends – Making direct amends is a common way to begin making amends to individuals harmed by addiction and alcoholism. Direct amends require the addict to take personal responsibility and confront the person whom he/she wishes to reconcile with. After seeking counsel from your sponsor, you will intimately address the harms you feel you have caused and how you will fix, re-pay, or repair any damage you may have caused. Be careful not to make unrealistic promises and always put the victim of the harms before yourself.

 

  • Indirect Amends – Indirect amends often refers to repairing the damage that cannot be physically undone. For instance, if you have committed a crime in the past or find yourself in a situation in which you cannot confront the people you have offended, there are other ways you can make amends. Sometimes, individuals who committed theft may take action to volunteer in a shelter or donate money to an organization that helps others who need assistance. You may not always be able to make direct amends but there are always indirect ways you can rise to the occasion.

 

  • Living Amends – Upon making living amends, we consider how we can display to others that there has been a spiritual and revolutionary change from the person we once were. When you make any amends, it is important to reflect on how you can apply the specific amends into making each one reflect within your living amends. Living amends require a commitment not only those we have harmed, but within ourselves to make an effort to maintain a genuine, wholesome, and Spirit-driven lifestyle. This is a marked end to the destructive lifestyle that you have been living in and a beacon of hope, change, and ultimately freedom.

 

As imagined, the harms produced by this chaotic lifestyle affect more than just the addict. Family, friends, and even innocent bystanders are often left behind harmed in the wake of addiction. It has been said many times “We will never fully comprehend the magnitude of the harms we have caused the ones we love.” Making amends is a vital part of your recovery and the healing process of the family and loved ones you have harmed. It is always best to approach the amends process with humility, sincerity, and selflessness.

 

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.