Robert Castan on Successful Addiction Treatment and Entrepreneurship
“Success doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like. It ends up being something completely different.” – Robert Castan
It may sound strange that addiction treatment and entrepreneurship could be placed together in the same title. When it comes to the success of any organization which aims to rehabilitate drug and alcohol addicts, it’s all about motivation. For Robert Castan, President and Chief Operating Officer (COO) of The Evergreen at Northpoint, motivation and resilience are key.
In 2010, Robert sought help for an addiction which he was battling. It almost led to his death, and that’s when he decided that his calling was helping others recover. Mr. Castan has created highly successful and innovative addiction treatment programs across the western U.S. ever since.
Robert co-founded Northpoint Recovery in Boise, Idaho in 2014. Everything from the facility layout to the marketing campaigns were under his oversight. Northpoint’s growth and success is largely due to Robert, leading to his assumed position of Chief Operating Officer.
Nowadays, he supervises daily operations and assists in key growth initiatives. The bio on his website states, “I am extremely proud of what we have created at Northpoint Recovery, we get to do something we love and help people change their lives.”
Robert is admired by many of his peers, and I can’t help but tip my hat to him as well. I was recently graced with the opportunity to sit down with him and ask about his motivations, ideas, and how his entrepreneurial skills apply to addiction treatment. Here are some excerpts from the interview, filled with Robert’s insightful and honest responses:
Describe your personal motivation in bringing Northpoint Recovery from its inception to fruition?
Addiction treatment in the United States has become streamlined, with a “one size fits all” approach. This has created a low level of insurance reimbursement which is based on negative outcomes. That’s the main motivation. I want to turn that around.
A primary reason for doing what we do is that we genuinely want to see people recover. I believe we are the most equipped for that outcome. Second, we need to show these insurance companies a different result. Many of those companies have concluded that an inpatient program is a waste of time and money. With our approach, we genuinely want to help people. That outlook is a benefit.
For some time, there were a significant amount of questionable business practices happening in the field. Our goal was to start a company that people would get excited about, and in turn, change the image of addiction treatment in the U.S.
Evergreen at Northpoint is an intensive outpatient (IOP) drug and alcohol rehab facility. What are the benefits of IOP?
I believe that a successful IOP has to treat every individual based on their specific needs. Quite a few recovering addicts don’t need an inpatient stay to find a workable solution. The inpatient program is great for those who abuse drugs and alcohol. This is because they have reached some very problematic areas. They tend to ruin the lives of those around them as well as their own. As you can imagine, these situations are quite dramatic.
An inpatient program gets the person away from those was situations which can potentially hold them back. They are placed in a controlled environment under supervision which can stabilize them medically. Coming down off substances such as heroin and alcohol is challenging. Lots of people aren’t able to do that on their own.
Socio-physical aspects are also implemented in the program. We take care of all the therapeutic components to meet their needs. After 28 days away from the said environment, they settle into a controlled space which lays the groundwork for a long-lasting recovery.
The outpatient program is built to meet them in their current environment. Tough situations such as family and employment are taken into consideration. We also do GCP engagement by working with their personal practitioners and their physical health. Contrary to being in a controlled environment, we aid them as they continue their lives outside the clinic. In the end, both inpatient and outpatient are powerful methods for a lasting recovery.
You’re a recovering addict yourself. May we ask what was your drug of choice was, and how you went about seeking help?
Upon my arrival to treatment, I initially thought I was only addicted to cocaine. As I spent more time in the program, I realized that I had been drinking a fifth of alcohol, or more, per day for the last 7 years. I came to the conclusion that the drug of choice wasn’t the problem. I was addicted to anything I could get my hands on.
When you ask me what motivated me, I can’t help but think back to January 22nd, 2008. I was sprawled out on the floor at 2am, ready to take my own life. The choice was between finding help that would get me back on track, or slit my wrists in the bathtub. My personal items were all neatly arranged so that if my family were to go through them, it wouldn’t be such a mess.
In the end, what pushed me was divine intervention. My own higher power directed me to find recovery. To this day, I’m thankful that that’s the path I chose. It was either take my own life, or change it. I chose to change it.
How long were you using before you searched for help with your addiction?
At 26 years of age is when I finally got clean. I first started using drugs and alcohol at age 8. By age 12 I was getting high regularly. In total, it was 14 years.
What form did your treatment take?
I started with a 28-day inpatient program at a residential facility. Then, I went to 12 Step meetings every day.
What did you learn from the process of achieving a state of being clean and sober?
The toughest obstacle was learning how to accept my situation and be okay with it, even though everything around me was falling to pieces. Whenever I had a bad day, drugs and alcohol were my escape. When I had a good day, I’d get high to celebrate. If you take that away, then celebrating my successes and mourning my losses was nearly impossible. I needed to learn to deal with life.
Once an addict is successfully detoxed, how does Northpoint Recovery convince them that there is a new and better life waiting for them? What is there after recovery?
The process begins immediately. When they come to the impatient facility and go through admissions. The alumni coordinator at Northpoint will be with them for the initial 48 hours. The engagement process – what happens when you leave the inpatient facility, starts within the first couple hours. At the outpatient facility, we integrate them right as they begin. We communicate with families, so they have a direct line to the treatment team.
In regards to your entrepreneurial journey, when did that begin?
After I got clean and sober, I started my first company. I had this desire to do something different. When I look back, I remember my full-time job at Starbucks. Then I remember being a dishwasher at Texas Roadhouse on weekends. Everything I had, I sold to raise some money to get my hands on the first opportunity I had. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I wasn’t scared of pushing myself to work.
What words of inspiration could you give to a new entrepreneur?
At Northpoint Recovery, we have what are called “core values.” They describe how we operate. One example would be not being afraid to challenge the norm. We are always willing to chop wood and carry water. There’s no such thing as getting too good at something in the company. I often participate in entry-level tasks, and people see me doing so. We need to be humble and grateful for our situation. We can’t control everything.
At the company, we hire smart people and allow them to have autonomous control over how they do their job. This lets them rise to the occasion and learn from their mistakes. For me, I have grown the most when placed in uncomfortable situations of failure. I never see failure as this major, pathetic occurrence. Failure is just one more step on the road to success.
Finally, success doesn’t look like what you thought it would look like. It ends up being something completely different.
This was an honest and moving interview. I myself am an entrepreneur, so listening to Robert answer my questions was an empowering experience. I look forward to using elements of this interview and applying them in my own business ventures. I hope you will as well.
Thank you for your time, Robert Castan.