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

These are large files. Please allow sufficient time for download.

Upcoming Event

2020 Caring Hearts Luncheon

Join us on February 19, 2020 for the 17th Annual Caring Hearts Luncheon as we celebrate 25 years of service with this program.


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