First Step Services Reviews, Cost, Complaints

First Step Services


First Step ServicesFirst Step Services Review

First Step Services is an outpatient treatment organization based in Raleigh, North Carolina. It started out in 2001 in the small town of Garner, with only one therapist. In 2002, it became a fully licensed outpatient, Intensive Outpatient (IOP) and DUI substance abuse treatment program operating only on nights and weekends while founder and addiction recovery advocate Henry Tarkington kept a day job. By the fall of 2002, First Step Services had opened in Raleigh, but soon outgrew that facility. Today, the Raleigh facility spans 7,000 square feet and First Step Services has additional locations in Garner, Durham and Cary, North Carolina.

Treatment and Staff

First Step Services offers adults both short- and long-term outpatient programs and IOP treatment. There is also an adolescent IOP at the Cary location only. An initial on-site assessment determines which course of treatment is recommended. Group therapy is used and modalities such as the 12 steps, Motivational Interviewing (MI), CBT and the Stages of Change Model are all integrated into the First Step Services approach.

The short-term program typically consists of 20 to 30 hours of treatment, depending on the outcome of the assessment. It includes a minimum of seven three-hour group counseling sessions, usually spread out over no fewer than 30 days. These groups meet at each of the four outpatient locations at various times throughout the week to accommodate even the busiest schedules. The long-term substance abuse treatment program, sometimes referred to as Intermediate Level, includes a minimum of 14 three-hour group therapy sessions and one individual session, spread out over at least 60 days. Additional individual counseling sessions may also be recommended. The IOP program consists of 20 to 30 three-hour sessions of group, to be completed over the course of approximately three to four months.

The Cary location offers an adolescent program for those ages 14 to 18 that involves group therapy, individual counseling, family counseling and education. Groups meet three nights a week, with a Wednesday night multi-family treatment group that brings both the addict and his or her family into group therapy. The Monday and Thursday night groups are for the teen without the family. Both sets of groups focus on substance use and related issues, including peer pressure and the negative effects on parents and siblings.

The staff of each facility includes several certified substance abuse counselors and at least one Master’s-level therapist. Dr. Joshua Dittmer is the medical director and is based out of the Raleigh facility.


The FACE (Family and Community Education) program meets weekly in Raleigh. It helps families and concerned others learn  about alcohol and drug abuse. FACE is primarily an educational program, though it does offer support for participants, and is for the community at large, so any one who wants to attend is welcome.

First Step Services also provides several alcohol and drug education programs that satisfy court, job, school and other requirements. These in an alcohol and drug education program, Prime for Life, and Alcohol and Drug Education Traffic School (ADETS). The programs each consist of four two-hour sessions and can be complete in less than a week to meet court requirements quickly and for a very low cost.  The cost is $160 for ADETS and $185 for Prime for Life.

Aftercare includes continuing counseling at a cost of $5 per session, provided that the client has completed an outpatient program and remains abstinent from all substances.

First Step Services is approved by the North Carolina Board of Nursing for nurses who are required to attend treatment. Free drug and alcohol assessments are available to those over the age of 18.

In Summary

First Step Services provides low-cost addiction treatment throughout the Raleigh-Durham area. There are several programs to choose from and all have flexible hours and knowledgeable staff. From healthcare workers to adolescents, they offer North Carolina communities education, treatment and support.

First Step Services Locations

First Step Services
211 E Six Forks Rd, Ste 117
Raleigh, NC 27609

128 Quade Dr
Cary, NC 27513

1418 Aversboro Rd,  Ste 201
Garner, NC 27529

3329 Chapel Hill Blvd, Ste 201
Durham, NC 27707

First Step Services Cost

$420 (20 hours), $1,800 (90 hours), $60 per group. Reach First Step Services by phone at (919) 833-8899 or by email at [email protected]. Find First Step Services on Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn

Do you have a complaint or review of First Step Services  to add? Use the comments area below to add your First Step Services review.



  1. Henry Tarkington, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS on

    We’ve made a few updates since 3 years ago that I’d like to include in your post regarding First Step Services, LLC.
    Henry Tarkington

  2. I learned a lot about addiction when I was at the [inpatient] treatment center . While I was there, I was able to attend one of their aftercare sessions. When I was discharged from there I entered the IOP with First Step. I felt that it was a smooth transition and holly provided many new tools and brushed up on tools that I learned while in inpatient treatment to help with my addiction. During IOP, I learned that many people were not serious about getting better but others were. Once I finished IOP and started aftercare, that transition was smooth as well. I felt like the people in aftercare were more serious about their recovery and I felt that I related more to those people. I enjoyed all of the counselors at First Step and appreciated their knowledge that was provided. Doreen did a great job taking over the aftercare counseling and made it easy to open up right away.

  3. Henry Tarkington on

    First Step now offers shorter groups at a cost of no more than $20/hour! There are now more options regarding the choice to use or not use health insurance for clients and patients. We continue to adapt to needs of participants in our program.

    • Henry Tarkington on

      We have now reduced the fees of all our programs again for the summer. Our 20 hour program is now $360. The cost of all our group programs has been reduced by $60 per program.

    • Henry Tarkington on

      Our Adolescent program has been moved to our Raleigh NC facility to place it in the same location as our free family program. We offer outpatient groups, individual and family counseling for adolescents. Family and Community Education (FACE) support group meets on Tuesday evenings 6:00 – 8:00 PM at no charge. Attendees do not have to have family members participate in the First Step treatment program.s

    • Henry Tarkington on

      One other correction…Dr. Matthew Bader is now our Medical Director and on site Psychiatrist. Dr. Dittmer is no longer with First Step.

  4. Henry Tarkington on

    The cost of our 20 hour program is $420, not $480. Otherwise, good write up!
    Henry Tarkington

    • Henry Tarkington on

      Our groups are $20/hour and are all 3 hours. It takes fewer trips to complete our program than programs that offer 1.5 – 2 hour groups, saving you gas, time & money!.

    • Henry Tarkington on

      The cost of our 20 hour program is now even lower at our Raleigh & Durham locations. Contact us for more information.

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