First at Blue Ridge Reviews, Cost, Complaints

First at Blue Ridge


First at Blue RidgeFirst at Blue Ridge Review

First at Blue Ridge offers long-term residential treatment for those suffering from chemical dependency. Founded in 1991, the nonprofit rehab is located at the base of the Blue Ridge Mountains in the town of Ridgecrest, North Carolina. After starting out as a male-only rehab, First at Blue Ridge in 2011 added the 65-bed women and children residential treatment program, which serves all female addicts and alcoholics, regardless of whether they have children or not. Besides long-term residential treatment, First at Blue Ridge offers a 30-day inpatient protocol for court-ordered DUI clients, as well as the Vets First program for US military veterans.

Accommodations and Food

The campus sprawls across three wooded acres complete with a barbeque grill and benches. The residential building has 85 beds for men, 65 beds for women (10 are reserved for female veterans),  20 beds for male veterans and 25 beds for transitional housing clients. Residents are housed in gender-specific wings, with up to four clients per sleeping area.

The American-style food is served three times per day in the main cafeteria. There is a salad bar available for lunch and dinner. Fresh coffee is brewed every morning and other caffeine options, including sweet tea, are available all day. Ample coffee is provided at in-house meetings.

Treatment and Staff

Clinical treatment length ranges from 30 days to 10 months. This is a work-for-hire program for those who work their way through the program and commit to stay a year. This includes two months of transitional care prior to graduation, either on site or at a local sober living. For these clients, the only fee required is the $275 admission cost. For the 30-day DUI program, the cost after the admission fee is $3,500. The fee is $6,500 for those who stay either 60 or 90 days.

Clients receive complete assessments and individualized treatment plans. Treatment modalities include CBT, behavior modification, the Matrix model and Motivational Interviewing (MI.) Weekly treatment includes group therapy, educational groups, individual therapy (twice a month) and mandatory attendance at 12-step meetings on the premises. Group topics include anger management, addiction awareness, 12-step study, relapse prevention, parenting and life skills. Group counseling offers peer processing, where residents share with each other.

During the first 30 days, new residents acquire sponsors and begin work on the steps. After the first phase, they are assigned to vocational training partners and develop their work skills or focus on GED completion or educational goals. Qualified residents are assigned to landscaping, cooking or other on-site work teams.

The women and children program allows women to keep their kids with them during treatment. It also serves those who are attempting to regain custody, domestic violence victims, formerly incarcerated women, pregnant women and all other women who suffer from substance abuse. For those who are pregnant when they enroll, prenatal services are provided by local health care providers. Mothers and newborns return to the facility for treatment after delivery.

Besides Executive Director Joseph A. Martinez, there are approximately 26 staff members, mainly program graduates who have gone on to become college interns and LADCs. All staff are clean, sober and committed to providing a good example for  residents.


Graduates receive special FIRST class rings that resemble high school rings. After 10 months, some residents move on to recovery cottages, while others live in transitional housing. The rehab allows residents to stay on for an additional 12 months while they save money, pay off debts and plan their futures. Aftercare varies per client, but typically includes continued attendance at 12-step meetings, goal setting and peer support.

There are two small cottages, each housing eight residents in the re-entry phase or program graduates. Each cottage includes a washer, dryer, cable TV with DVD, a pay phone and vending machines filled with snacks and sodas. Re-entry residents are served three hot meals a day, in the cafeteria.

Residents go on rafting trips to the Natanhala River twice a year.

In Summary

Residents can not only reap the benefits of highly structured treatment, but the beautiful forest setting allows them a chance for self-reflection and healing. This program teaches residents the value of work and prepares them for life after rehab.

First at Blue Ridge Location

32 Knox Rd
Ridgecrest, NC 28770

First at Blue Ridge Cost

Depends on program. Reach First at Blue Ridge at (828) 669-0011. Find First at Blue Ridge at Facebook, YouTube, Google+ and LinkedIn

Do you have a complaint or review of First at Blue Ridge to add? Use the comments area below to add your First at Blue Ridge review.

Photo courtesy of Facebook



  1. After reading all the reviews I’m in a complete and utter state of disbelief
    Disheartening to say the least. My son has been incarcerated since June, he’s in desperate need of Help He Wants help, I call the Jail Liason numerous times, my son puts in request for him to help. He’s seen my son Once. ! I’ve spoken with him 3 times max. Instead of help, the authorities want to send him to prison. I ask any and all that read this Please pray for my son, myself and the authorities for Justice from above. Sincerely

  2. I graduated from and then worked there (and part-time elsewhere) until saving enough to move out and get on with life. Briefly put, you can recover there (or start to) if you’re ready to recover and you have some prior experience trying. Otherwise, you’ll be derailed and not-helped at every turn, and that’s very inappropriate. But FIRST: (1) does lie to the courts and to other people about who is in the facility and what they’re doing (2) allows “clients” who have no intention of recovering to take legal and physical shelter somehow (bribes, maybe…) and those “clients” get to come in and screw things up for everybody else (3) the food/EBT situation is deeply suspect, and (4) personnel who were obviously high at work will never be curbed until the last possible (but first convenient) moment by the Director, Joseph. Also, the DPS program is not about drug and alcohol rehab at all, mind you, but is a transitional housing program instead. And when you consider that many DPS clients were locked up in the first place primarily for selling drugs, you can imagine what could go wrong. And it does, but the per-bed price tag paid to FIRST by the state means they don’t usually get treated as harshly as the other clients. So before sending a kid or loved one here, think about all these obstacles – yes, they can be overcome, but the fact that they’re “easy fixes” that don’t ever get fixed makes the whole thing insane.

  3. This place has the worst success rate. Over the past year 6 people whom completed this program have overdosed and died. Another young man was kicked out over a relationship and then committed suicide a few months ago bc he could not get his addiction under control. Yet Lindsey the intake coordinator and Brock the head house manager began their relationship while being clients and instead of being kicked out they were made staff. Joseph is known to come in the houses after midnight on Saturday nights after playing in his band. He comes in stumbling around drunk eating clients food. They get government money for having a women and children program yet there are no children there but there is a room piled up with baby stuff so that if tjey get inspected they can set it up real quick. If you are pregnant or have children you will be told there is a waiting list but don’t waste your time bc it’s a lie. People come to First to get off one substance and become addicted to another substance bc drugs are easier to get in the houses than it is on the streets. If you send your love one to this program you are signing their death wish.

  4. We were taken advantage of as well. We paid the $3,500 in advance because we were told that was the only way to get her in.
    As a frantic and distraught parent you believe you need to move immediately. They took advantage of a family in crisis. My daughter was kicked out of the program within 2 weeks for using drugs. Drugs were being brought into facility left and right. It is hypocritical and unjust to call yourself a rehab facility when you have no order and control of your facility. They put newly clean addicts in an unpredictable enviornment and when they make a mistake they kick them out. They need to be held accountable for taking advantage of a vulnerable population who are often unfairly wrote off as “no good “.

  5. My son just went to First on yesterday I hope and pray that these comments are just something that people are just saying!!!! These are awful these to say about a rehab..I don’t know what to think

    • Lori Bagliere on

      Give them a chance. The types that did not make it did not want to. FIRST cannot MAKE some one recover. These remarks are disparaging, but doing my homework before I apply. Hope all goes well w/ur son. God speed. They seem awfully credible to me. “Us types” are difficult to deal with – Hang in there. Would appreciate review of ur experience.

  6. Former Client on

    If ever there was an argument for state regulation of non-profit rehab facilities, First at Blue Ridge is it. While some of the complaints I’ve read here sound like personal grudges, many are perfectly legit and can be easily substantiated by former clients. God knows there are MANY who would be willing to step forward and break the shameful silence that allows this place to operate the way it does.

  7. The staff is on drugs. Mandatory drug testing by the state of North Carolina needs to be implemented for all NON PROFIT rehabs. For all staff not just a chosen few. They also need random inspections on the food thats left out all nite called save trays. And finally the feds need to audit all the fake books done by the executive directors wife. Bet all of firsts possessions arent at the facility.

    • First is not a rehab, it’s a work program and a false front for Joseph Martinez. He is a crooked person disguising himself as a light in the community, He is the devil incarnate and everyone that knows him or spends time with him knows that. He cares fro no one but himself. His wife and kids cant stand him. I completed the program but it was only because I played the game and was successful because I knew what they were up too, I had no choice at the time so I did what I had to do. First is a Payton place where staff manipulates the clients there verbally, sexually, spiritually, and emotionally. They play off of fear and tell you every Sunday to “smoke crack and die.” Joseph Martinez is a former cocaine dealer who still behaves the same way he did 30 years ago. He treats his staff like dirt and pays them nothing. I am appalled at the behavior he showed me as a client. I wanted to kill him and still do today. Brock and Lindsey are false prophets who are just hanging around waiting on Joseph to leave so they can run it. So many broken souls come in there for help only to leave the same way they came in. 10 people have left and died since August 2016 because they were made to work and earn money rather than obtain recovery. The vans they transport people in are not fit for a dog to ride in. The drivers smoke dope and have sex with female clients every single day, James Higgins is screwing one of the female clients in the offices after hours. Don Dulaney is sucking cock daily in his office and calling it counseling, Derek is smoking crack daily in the bathrooms and don’t get me started on Drew. He is drag queen at night,

    • This is so true. It is a shame the State of NC has not done a better job investigating this crook Joseph Martinez! Getting rich off of the sick and suffering for 15 years now.

  8. First is a bad joke for people seeking help the have a wall of plaques that dont mean a thing. They dont help pregnant women they dont do anything but send you to work and make up rules as they go baaed on you personal usefullness to their snitcht based program. Be aware that the staff are all useless with the exception to Drew and Derrick. Help yourself and get clean through meetings and detox not slave labor and ridiculous rules.

  9. I find the women and children’s program interesting. They receive grants for that program but haven’t even had a woman with child in program for some time now. From my understanding if a pregnant woman calls the program they say that component is full at this time….How is it full when there’s nobody pregnant or with child there??? Also there is a “immediate” fee that gets you into the program sooner. As I have been told there are spots available but they don’t tell you because they hope you have $$. There is a 90 day program that cost $6500 but even if you pay that you still get sent to work. All long term clients are made to fill out food stamp applications but most of the food comes from the food bank. Heard Joseph has a catering company…Wonder if the food stamps go there.

  10. First has saved my life. All together the worst day there beats my best day on drugs. If you are serious about recovery and changing YOUR life then try First . It’s all what YOU make it. You can find fault in anything, but try and see the good and you will be surprised where that can take you.

  11. James Ashford on

    They tell you not to associate with the opposite sex…but multiple staff have had sexual relations with female clients. Hell James Ashford impregnated one of my daughters friends there. Brock and Lindsay from intake met at this rehab. James Higgins has given it a whirl once or twice. Derrick… well Derrick just a fucking retard. Martinez has jerry curled asshole hairs. There’s staff members picking up white chips left and right. Cleveland the kitchen staff member looks nothing short of the alien from American Dad.
    Anyways great place thanks!!! <3

  12. Fran Abernathy on

    Definitely agree with all of the above. The director is more interested in having their clients work even though it means they cannot attend classes or meetings. First @ Blue Ridge takes advantage of a family’s fear and anxiety. Their website stated you could go to school and have assistance in getting your drivers’ license. Neither is true. Didn’t know about the food stamps bs. Apparently they do this w/of the clients’ knowledge. Would live to know their success/failure ratio.

  13. Tineke Hall on

    My son arrived Thursday afternoon straight out of a detox facility in Buffalo, NY and was put to work by the following Tuesday – working 10 hour days which required him to be out of the facility for 12 hours/day. It cost us $3500 for the year-long program and within a week’s time, we moved him to a different facility because my son was ready to go out on the street without any money/shelter due to the working conditions and venues/lack of treatment there. We are from NY and trusted what was told to us by FIRST’s staff and advertised on their website and Face Book page. His first 30 days were supposed to be therapeutic and clinical according to their long-term program description:
    “New residents will participate in “phase one” of the program which is a thirty day clinical program designed to acclimate the individual to the program and provide support in early recovery. After the completion of “phase one,” the client is assigned to a Vocational Training Partner or, depending on the skills of the individual, they may be placed on one of FIRST at Blue Ridge’s internal crews”.
    He received no such therapy. He had to sign over his food stamps to First for the first 6 months and agree to 10 months of work with no compensation. In return for work, he was supposed to be receiving help with his recovery. This is nothing more than a glorified WORK camp. One of the biggest contracts FIRST has is with the Civic Center and job duties include cleaning up after concerts – think about this – Addicts cleaning up after a concert-relapse guaranteed. My son was scheduled to clean up after one of these concerts one week after arriving at FIRST. He had been unable to attend any classes/groups or NA meetings due to the work schedule they had set for him. My son left the program on Friday, June 30th; only telling the staff that he had a ride picking him up at 1pm. It is July 5th, and WE HAVE YET TO RECEIVE A CALL FROM THEM TELLING US OUR SON (FROM NY) HAD LEFT THEIR PROGRAM!!!! We will be filing with every department and governmental agency until this place is shut down. It’s more a privatized prison than a rehab facility! Don’t send your loved ones here if help is what you’re looking for. Of course, there was no refund even though they did not provide anything for my son, he was there for less than a week and worked for 30 hours without pay.

    • You know cleaning up after a concert is a JOB. Getting high as that point is a choice. The program has worked for others. Its enablers like yourself that hinder the individual…

      • Your ignorance of addiction amazes me. A few days out of detox is not the time to throw people to the wolves. They promised clinical support for the first thirty days of Early recovery. Are they in your back pocket???

    • Your son is getting paid. Its called rent, lights, water etc…after a year if proved capable he can and will be in charge of his own budget. Its a process…trust it

  14. This place is probably the most crooked institute in nc. Im here as a dps client 90 days in transitional housing. I would have to agree with the other people. Im not here for rehab but i had to take the classes and go through na/aa to just start working. Took about a month. They dont feed you hardly they take peoples food stamps. The director owns a catering buisness. He takes the food stamps for his business. And in return gets the clients out dated foodbank donations. To feed us with. Then the staff (all used to be addicts) dont know what they are doing. Think there always in the right. Thinking they do you favors but in actuality they are just being another addict. The ride situation is another problem. They get the clients to drive. Right now there is only 2 drivers. And there is 95+ people living here. The wait time is usually 2 hours or more depending on the day. If i came here for the long term. I wouldnt be able to deal with the bs here. They work full time jobs and dont get any paid. DONT GO TO FIRST.

    • It’s disheartening when a previous client who was discharged from our program for using on propery therefore putting other clients who are sincerely trying to change their lives at risk has so many defamatory claims against a program that only wanted to help him.
      *It’s important to note that if alll of your accusations were true do you think that this program would still be operating? First at Blue Ridge gets has numerous inspections on a State and Federal level due contracts with the State of N.C. and the Veteran’s Administration for our Veteran’s program, and if any of these claims were true the doors would be closed immediately and before now. It’s all public record so please do your reseach before believing this nonsense.

      • I was going through these reviews. Was at first interested but needless to say not anymore. For you to be a staff member u act ridiculous. Why respond to what u consider untruth unless there is truth in it. Further more why put a client’s business out there. Isn’t that against the law? He can sue u for disclosing such info. These reviews speak volumes to me. Will spend my money elsewhere.

      • Lisa DelGrosso on

        There are many truths to all these comments not to mention you work them to death and they don’t get the studies that they need. You put people with drinking problems working in the ABC stores, you leave clients unattended in a hotel room that you put them up in the hood. I can go on and on with horror stories as well. It’s easy to blame the addict but this establishment has many flaws and you’re not out to help the addict, you are making money off them, collecting food stamps off them, and isn’t the owners primary business a catering service???

  15. Corbin Forrester on

    I completed the program there. The place is crooked, and always changing. They completely warped the last two month “transition” phase. I got emotionally and psychologically bullied to where I snapped and wrote about it on Facebook, instead of, you know, going on a relapse. They then told me I couldn’t move to their halfway house because I wrote “slander” on facebook and had to leave the program. I had to run out of that place with barely enough money to eat and pay my way into a halfway house. One of the most stressful events I went through in recovery. I then went to get my food stamps and they had already used half of my food stamps for the month before I could even get the card.

    Unless you have a home to go back to, you’re not going to have a good time. If you’re trying to stay out of prison they are pretty good at helping with that, but otherwise they can and will take advantage of your situation. They can very easily replace you. Very few actually get treated alright at the program, and they become staff and never leave.

    Only go there if you’re homeless or trying to avoid prison. I went there and believed in the program until the last 4 months and I couldn’t believe how I got treated. Don’t go there if you can help it.

    • I agree with everything you are saying. Same thing happen with my grandson but in a different way. He was doing really good and just like you he was told he had to leave the program not for drugs or anything it was more like staff issues. Mine started with a letter I had written and from then on they done everything they could do to get rid of him. I made 3 calls to the director and he never returned my calls. My grandson was treated wrong and they know it. They don’t like it when you don’t agree with them. They applied for food stamps without his knowledge but he was turned down. The staff yelled and screamed at him for no reason. He had a 5 day pass to come home someone told the house mgr he did drugs and alcolo when he was home, they tested him, turned up negative. that made them made so they had to find something else. More people need to get up here and write reviews I made one on their facebook page well it got deleted in 2 seconds. Every thing you said is the truth and people need to do their research before they drop someone off there. I have downloaded the forms I needed to file a complaint and uploaded to the government sight. They get grant money from the state and these people need to know what is going on in the facility. I not only filed a complaint but other complaints as well. Nothing might not ever come of it but at least it will be investigated. Yes they can very easily replace you and I hope you know why. Hope you continue to do good, my grandson seems to be doing good.

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