FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. is a long-term residential therapeutic community for individuals with chronic substance use disorders. Addiction is a chronic, relapsing disease that is often accompanied by mental and emotional difficulties, behavioral complexities, and other factors that can affect recovery. The program’s mission is to provide opportunity, guidance, and education to those with addictions and assist them to make positive life changes, in order to become responsible and productive members of society.
FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. is a licensed therapeutic community in the State of North Carolina. We are a non-profit organization governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The program is located in Ridgecrest, NC which is east of Asheville, NC on Interstate 40. The campus is comprised of a five story residential building with the capacity for eighty-five men, a sixty-five bed women’s facility, and other administrative, mechanical, landscaping, clinical and transitional housing residences. Each transitional house is self-contained and is reserved for individuals who have completed their specific program’s curriculum. Eligibility to live in the transitional houses is determined by FIRST staff.
FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. is a highly structured modified Therapeutic Community with an evidence-based clinical overlay. Applicants for our long-term program, who are accepted through our Admissions Department, are required to pay a program fee upon admission. There are no additional fees required for the long-term program component. Residents of the community make a commitment to participate in program-contracted jobs while they complete the clinical curriculum and program requirements. Scholarships are available for those who do not have the means to pay the program fee.
The Clinical Department requires residents to attend various groups on life skills and addiction such as: Anger Management, Relationships, Addiction Awareness, 12 Step Study Group, Relapse Triggers, as well as peer process groups and counseling sessions that are used throughout the curriculum. The FIRST program recommends active participation in self-help recovery groups including Alcoholics or Narcotics Anonymous, Celebrate Recovery, SMART Recovery, etc.
Treatment interventions, techniques and modalities include, Behavior Modification, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Motivational Interviewing, The Matrix Model, Brief Individual Therapy, Relapse Prevention and others recognized as “Best Practice” evidence-based models. A full and comprehensive exploration of chemical dependency in a therapeutic setting invariably leads residents to consider the risks substance abuse poses to their lives: unemployment, homelessness, broken homes, loss of parental rights, impaired physical and mental health including the risks for HIV, HEP C and other sexually transmitted diseases, as well as criminal activities, etc. Residents are also helped to understand the risks their chemical dependency poses to others: the destruction of a family does not just negatively or adversely affect the addict. Family, friends, co-workers, children, parents, siblings, partners and even innocent bystanders may have already been harmed by an individual’s behavior. In some cases, the family and other relationships have been destroyed through years of substance use activities and may not be repaired even if the individual remains “clean and sober.”
During their stay, residents are exposed to the day-to-day issues that are commonplace in society. Facing these issues together and overcoming challenges helps residents develop a sense of self-respect within the community. Whether it is with an internal FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. position, or with one of our vocational training partners, residents learn job skills and work habits as they “earn” their way through the program. Additionally residents have the opportunity to establish a twelve month job history to add to their resumes, including positive references.
FIRST strives to be a reality based program and seeks to instill its clients with “real world” responsibilities. To that end, having assigned duties and responsibilities on a daily basis and having the opportunity to learn new skills and a work ethic are an integral part of the therapeutic process.
After graduating the long-term program, residents are eligible to apply for admission to a transitional house. Residents accepted into a transitional house may remain at FIRST for up to one additional year, or until they establish a firm foundation for transitioning into independent living.
FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. is primarily funded through its several vocational training partners such as the City of Asheville and other local employers. FIRST also receives support through grants and contracts with the United States Department of Veterans Affairs and the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.
FIRST at Blue Ridge, Inc. strives to admit only those who are committed to making positive changes in their lives. These individuals come from all walks of life and are referred by many sources including family members, friends, former graduates, other treatment programs, the judicial system, and probation and parole. However, they all have two things in common: the knowledge that they cannot go on using drugs and alcohol and the desire to get help. That journey to recovery begins with the FIRST step and we are here to help.