How Noah Nordheimer went from fighting drug addiction to helping others overcome it

Noah Nordheimer

Noah Nordheimer

By Tina Irgang

Following surgery on his back, Noah Nordheimer developed an addiction to prescription painkillers. As he recovered, he realized that he was lucky to have a support network of friends and family — a luxury not available to many addicts. The experience moved Nordheimer to found Concerted Care Group, whose mission is to provide a safe space for addicts and address all their needs, including those related to behavioral health and primary care.

What did your experience with addiction teach you about how to help addicts recover?

Nordheimer: I think through my own personal recovery, I saw how hard it was to get better. And I was lucky enough that I had a strong support system, great family and friends, but as I went through this process and met a ton of folks going through the same thing, I saw how many people don’t have that. I thought that things could be done differently.

Differently in what way?

Nordheimer: We’re primarily focused on the opiate epidemic, so the majority of our patients are addicted to prescription painkillers or heroin. That’s the big market that we are focused on, and a lot of addiction treatment facilities focus on … the medication-assisted piece, which is just one facet of recovery. We’re really focused on treating the whole person. The other side could be behavioral health, making sure our patients are being treated for all of their issues concurrently. Many of our patients have primary care needs that aren’t being met. Also, I think providing all those services under one roof makes it much more attainable for a lot of patients. A lot of patients we spoke to during due diligence at the creation of Concerted Care Group told us they had to spend a lot of time going to different facilities and different doctors, and it was really difficult to lead a normal life, get back on track and get a job. What we’ve done is brought all of those services under one roof.

Maryland, and Baltimore in particular, is struggling with heroin addiction. What does it take to see a real reduction in the amount of addicts?

Nordheimer: I think that we’re going to have to expand treatment to a much broader base. I think that unfortunately, there’s still a stigma associated with addiction treatment. I think that educating children in schools about drugs and addiction is critical and, in fact, one of our supportive services is a program called Step Up, [which includes] vocational job trainings, or just community outreach and volunteer work, which gives our patients a purpose and makes them feel good about their time. … There’s a lot of collaboration that’s already taking place with providers, particularly in Baltimore, which is great. … Through electronic health records, a lot of providers are becoming more in tune with what performance outcomes are working, so if a patient receives behavioral health treatment along with addiction treatment along with primary care, how did that patient do as opposed to one who just receives addiction treatment? I think the numbers will speak for themselves.

What motivates you to get up and go to work each morning?

Nordheimer: I think setting a good example for my son is probably right up there in that list for me, probably the first thing. And then secondly, I really do want to help people, and I think that we can do a better job of assisting people in recovery by focusing on the whole person and not just treating one aspect of their life. … It really motivates me because I know our patients are going to get better.

Leadership roles are always stressful, and it’s important to find balance. What do you do to get your balance back when you’re feeling stressed?

Nordheimer: I work out pretty frequently. I run a lot, as well as box, and that relieves a lot of stress for me. It’s part of my daily routine that keeps me balanced. Health and wellness is a critical piece of what we do for our patients as well. We offer some nutrition classes for them so they understand what healthy eating is about and understand about exercise. We’re trying to be much more than an addiction treatment facility for our patients. We are their support system, their family, their friend.

What do you consider the best decision you’ve ever made, either personally or professionally?

Nordheimer: Professionally, taking the leap to start Concerted Care Group. I had a lot of success in my prior career and was in a place where I didn’t necessarily have to start Concerted Care Group financially, but I really was driven to do it to help other people, and it was a large risk that I took. Because of our early success, I feel invigorated and I know that I made the right decision.

About The Human Element:

The Human Element is a regular, web-exclusive column that aims to get to know the leaders behind great companies. Rather than talking about business models and growth strategies, CEOs open up about what motivates and guides them in their professional and personal lives. To be considered for The Human Element, email ahurst@smartceo.com.