Mission Statement:  First Step prevents and treats alcohol and drug addictions and associated disorders.  We foster fully functioning, productive individuals by offering a full array of services in partnership with our community.


1967 – Founded as the Sarasota Rehabilitation Program

1968 – Chartered as a non-profit organization
– Renamed First Step. Counseling services and Driving While Intoxicated program created

1975 – Received state funding to establish a substance abuse center on 18th Street in Sarasota for Sarasota and DeSoto Counties

1976 – Opened the first Detox program
– Expanded to Arcadia with opening of Outpatient Services office

1977 – Opened an Outpatient Services office in Venice

1983 – Acquired site for the Residential Campus on North Washington Boulevard in Sarasota

1984 – Developed the Women’s Early Intervention Services program

1991 – Established a residential Long-Term Therapeutic Community

1992 – Created a 50-bed non-secure treatment program

1993 – Began an 8-bed Dual Diagnosis (co-occurring) program

1994 – Opened a new clinical building at the Residential Campus
– Created the Early Intervention and Prevention program as a community outreach initiative

1995 – Opened Outpatient Services office in Sarasota
– Opened the Mothers and Infants program
– Created a Day Treatment program, in partnership with The Salvation Army, for substance abusing indigent individuals
– Received first 3-year quality accreditation from Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF).

1997 – Broke ground for a Medical Unit at the 18th Street Special Services Campus

1998 – Received $250,000 gift from the Women’s Ministry Division of the Presbyterian Church, USA, for construction of a new building for the Mothers and Infants program

1999 – Received second 3-year CARF quality accreditation from the CARF

2000 – Opened new Medical Unit on the 18th Street Special Services Campus for the Detox Unit and the Mothers and Infants program
– David J. Beesley, MPH, appointed President/CEO

2001 – Opened new Mothers and Infants building

2002 – Established Youth Outpatient Services program for adolescents ages 13 -18

2003 – Received Best Practices Award from Department of Children and Families for Mothers and Infants

2004 – Awarded $1.5 million from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration (SAMSHA) for a Transitional Living Center (TLC) program for post-partum women and their children
–  Received funding from Sarasota County to expand the Detox facility to a 30-bed Addictions Receiving Facility to provide detox and assessment services for clients admitted under the Marchman Act

2005 – Received Best Practices Award from Department of Children and Families for Detox

2006 – Opened the Addictions Receiving Facility (ARF)

2008 – Received 5 exemplary conformance awards from CARF

2009 – Received Best Practices Award from Department of Children and Families for the Crossroads program

2011 – Winner of the John J. Cox Community Partner of the Year Award from the Economic Development Corporation of Sarasota.
– Received no recommendations, citations or negative remarks based on 2011 CARF surve

2012 – Opened new kitchen, multi-purpose room, and client laundry services, along with administrative wing, at 4570 Northgate Court.

2013 – Celebrated birth of 300th healthy, drug-free baby

Annual Reports

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