FIRST at Blue Ridge is a highly structured, no-nonsense drug rehab facility nestled among the Blue Ridge Mountains in Asheville, North Carolina. FIRST accommodates both long-term and short-term stays at its 85-bed facility for men at its central campus and its 65-bed facility for women and their children.
FIRST emphasizes hard work, discipline and unwavering fidelity to its core programs of therapy sessions, educational classes, and vocational training. Not anyone can attend FIRST. All are welcome to apply, however, if you do not meet the criteria that FIRST has put in place for accepting new residents than other treatment centers might be a better fit.
All new residents, no matter if they are long-term or short-term residents, undergo the first “phase” of the program which lasts for 30 days. During this time, residents acclimatize to the rigors of the program which stresses becoming a useful member of society again but also provides initial support for those going through recovery.
Working the Program
There are no easy rides at FIRST. Short-term residents work the 30-day program until their 30 days are up, but, if necessary longer stays can be arranged. Short-stay residents either do not meet the criteria for the long-term stay program, have other responsibilities to attend to (work, family) or are undergoing court-mandated rehabilitation.
Short-term residents must participate in all therapeutic activities and must complete all assigned work assignments. A one-time fee must be paid by all entrants to either the long-term or short-term program, but costs for future programs are on a sliding scale. Scholarships are also available for those who are unable to pay.
After completing the first 30 days, long-term residents must reapply to ensure that they have learned the skills and understood the demands that will be placed on them as they climb further up the program’s structure. In their first 30 days, a new resident must also have found an AA or NA sponsor and have been assigned either to one of the work crews on the FIRST campus or begin vocational training with one of FIRST’s Vocational Training Partners.
All this is done to prepare the resident for being able to take directions, which is important during the more intense phases of their rehabilitation, but also for when they are ready to become useful and productive in society again. Long-term stays can last up to a year.
Once a resident has demonstrated their aptitude in managing their addiction, as well as their work commitments, they may apply for FIRST’s transitional living residence, where they can continue their recovery. Residents can take advantage of the familiar environment, while still attending 12 Step meetings and being able to save money so they can get back on their feet in the outside world.
A resident is deemed to have completed the long-term program once they have completed all clinical requirements, found and kept an AA or NA sponsor and be enrolled in a college or work program or continue being gainfully employed.
Picking up The Pieces
The therapeutic model at FIRST stresses a new resident’s need to become a productive member of society again. Life skills like resume building, interview skills and the ability to find and keep gainful employment are as essential to a person’s recovery as counseling or therapy.
The various levels that a person has to pass through are in place to ensure that the resident is re-learning all of those skills they let evaporate during their time as substance abusers.
The clinical staff at Blue Ridge also offers well-worn therapies like behavior modification, cognitive behavioral therapy and anger management classes, these, coupled with mandatory participation in self-help therapies like AA and NA make-up FIRST’s treatment model. A part of the FIRST program is getting participants to understand how destructive and far-reaching their substance abuse was not only to themselves but their families and loved ones and society in general.
Coming Down From the Mountain
FIRST takes you in at your worst and builds you back up again. Making you into a productive and responsible citizen is the focus of their mission. It applies to all those who partake, even to the veterans in FIRST’s Vets First program, which assigns vets a case manager and puts them through the same rigorous work and counseling programs as all other FIRST residents.
If a highly structured and disciplined program is something you think you need, then FIRST at Blue Ridge might be for you.