• Every great journey begins with a First Step!
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    Henry Tarkington, MSW, LCSW, LCAS, CCS, DOT/SAP Evaluator

    My interest in the field of substance abuse came as the result of overcoming challenges with substances and the multitude of related problems. Like so many of us, it took a lot of life challenges to shake me out of it. Upon finally accepting my situation, I began to make changes during a mandatory counseling program. The program worked.  A few years later, I was hired as a “substance abuse worker” at the Wake County Alcoholism Treatment Center (ATC), inpatient hospital. My interest in working in the field grew. In 1990, I became a part time substance abuse counselor on the inpatient unit at the ATC. I continued working in manual labor jobs for several more years. I worked part time in addictions and at a Wake County DWI program.

    In late 1997, I was hired at the ATC as a full time Family Counselor.  Due to changes in the field that require more professional credentials, in 1997 I decided to get a college degree. I completed a weekend college Bachelors in Social Work at Barton College in Wilson, NC in 1999. I completed a Masters of Social Work at UNC-Chapel Hill in 2001. Soon after graduating from UNC, individuals and families I had previously worked with at Wake County began seeking out my services. They requested I provide counseling for them, mostly for family counseling. I set up shop in a psychologists office in Garner that I rented for $10/1 hour session.  First Step evolved from this humble beginning as an individual counseling practice into the company it is today.  I am very grateful to the individuals, families and communities we serve for allowing us to provide services.

    I currently have a Masters Degree in Social Work and Licensed Clinical Social Worker credential. I posses Licensed Clinical Addictions Specialist and Certified Clinical Supervisor credentials by the NC Substance Abuse Professional Practice Board. I provide clinical supervision for substance abuse counselors, professional counselors and clinical social workers who are working toward certification & licensure.

    I believe all of us have the ability to continually improve our lives. We can all feel more secure and  be more productive in our lives. Clients deserve a chance to improve their lives and my goal is to do everything I can do to give them that chance. I use motivational techniques to help clients attain goals.  Many participants at First Step have life changing experiences through participating in our programs.  However, my primary goal is to assist clients in permanently ending the problems they encounter because of drinking and/or drug use. Whether legal, family, school, job or other areas of life are affected, I want to help those not occur again because of use of a substance of any type.


    Substance use disorder – screening, referral and placement

    Substance use disorder – screening, referral and placement

    Does someone you know need treatment for alcohol or drug use?  Who do you rely on for accurate information
    Treating substance use disorders

    Treating substance use disorders

    "I recently spent five weeks in an inpatient rehabilitation center. Prior to returning to work
  • Client Experiences

    I was ordered to go. When I first came here I thought it was just the state getting money from poor working Joe because it was just unfair judgment, but I found out though that the probability of me making another bad decision was very possible, and that people make the same mistakes with their

    Anonymous Garner Client

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