Drug treatment center proposed for Asheville Montford neighborhood


Montford Hall is a residential substance abuse treatment center that would serve adolescent boys. It’s proposed location is a 12,000-square-foot building at 49 Zillicoa St. in the heart of Asheville’s leafy Montford neighborhood. The building was built in 1892 and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Montford Hall’s founder is Alex Kirby, a clinical psychologist.

Here’s more from montfordhall.org:

WELCOME TO MONTFORD HALL, a proposed 24-bed residential substance abuse treatment program for boys ages 14-18. Montford Hall will be located in Asheville, NC, and serve a national market, with an emphasis on the Southeast.

Our mission is to help adolescent boys lead fulfilling lives free from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.

Montford Hall was incorporated in 2009 as a 501(c)3 organization.



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Brandon August 4, 2013 - 3:55 pm

As someone who has worked in this industry for the past two years I can honestly say that I welcome any new programs into this area. I have worked for both these “halfway houses” and a treatment center, and have seen many people come in and turn their life around. Yes… the majority of the residents that come through the doors will not have long term sobriety, but as long as one or two residents find what they need in that program then it is priceless. And I would much rather a treatment center or a sober living community move into my neighborhood than a bunch of people in that same 18-28 year old range who are not part of or working a program. These programs are what are helping our youth gain independence and freedom for the future…I say welcome!!!

momatty August 4, 2013 - 1:56 pm

To those who feel programs like Montford Hall are a waste of money with no hope for real recovery, I feel compelled to write. I first realized my son was an addict when he was 16 years old. He spent the next 9 years under the influence, despite doing a 5 week wilderness program, attending two different treatment programs (both being one month programs), and countless visits with a psychiatrist and two different psychologists who attempted to “cure” him through various prescription drugs. (The sum total of which treatment far exceeded the cost of 6 years at a private liberal arts college. Needless to say, this was a tremendous burden to us and our extended family). During that time, he was hospitalized twice for drug overdose. It was a miracle that he didn’t kill himself or someone else’s child when he drove under the influence. When he was 25 yrs old, he finally agreed to go to a long term treatment facility, basically because he had been kicked out of college, had lost every low level job he ever had, and was being evicted. Thankfully, because of this long term treatment, he has now been sober for 4 years, has been gainfully employed for 3 years at the same job where he has gotten several promotions, and has completed 2 years of college by taking classes at night while working full time. (Interestingly, that residential program is smack dab in the middle of a small town, where property values continue to rise). Don’t tell me, or my son, or any one else in our family or circle of friends, that a long-term residential program for substance abusers doesn’t work.

Cary August 2, 2013 - 3:23 pm

Understandable concerns, while I believe most are unfounded and common misconceptions. I think most people are missing the point.

Montford Hall is meant to help a severe problem. Substance abuse is killing adults and kids alike. They are not from the fringes of society but from all walks of life. Places like Montford can save lives and families.

I encourage anyone interested to do more research on drug abuse and treatment. Here is a good starting point. http://www.drugabuse.gov/ Also check out the Montford site: their program, mission, etc. and you will get behind them just like I have.

Lee Roy July 30, 2013 - 8:11 am

There is a reason that Medicaid, IPRS and private insurance no longer fund residential SA treatment … IT DOESN’T WORK!!! The failure rate is out the roof. On those rare occasions when addicts quit using, they do so because they are damn good and ready. BTW Montford Hall … you didn’t answer my question. What is the cost of a non-discounted, 30 day stay for first party payers??? My guess is that you will ignore this question because answering it will shine a not so favorable light on Montford Hall.

Montford Hall July 30, 2013 - 6:19 pm

You seem to know a lot about residential treatment! What led you to the conclusion that it doesn’t work?

To answer your apparently very pressing question, a month’s stay will cost $9,500. We’re aware that this is expensive; it’s what comprehensive treatment for minors (which in our case includes a robust academic program) costs.

If you have any suggestions about how to lower tuition while still providing the same level of care, we’d love to hear them!

PFM August 16, 2013 - 11:55 am

Wow, Lee Roy! Do you have children? If so, have any of them ever faced a life threatening illness? Can you imagine not treating a child with a terminal illness because the prescribed treatment doesn’t have a success rate that meets an arbitrary minimum standard? What succes rate would meet your approval? And you think that an insurance company’s willingness to cover treatment validates its worth? Your logic is flawed.

I am the mother of two teenage sons. My husband and I are not wealthy. We work, and we love our children. Both of my sons are each are extremely intelligent and remarkable young men. My oldest was diagnosed with cancer as an infant. We sought treatment, fought the battle and he is 18 years cancer free. My youngest was diagnosed a drug addict at 15 years of age. We are in the fight our our lives for his recovery. He is in a therapeutic program, similar to Montford Hall, 3000 miles away from us, because there are no programs east of the Mississippi that provide programs comprehensive enough to even begin to chip away at the tip of the iceberg that is drug addiction.

Whether or not the success rates meet your approval, Montford Hall will provide an opportunity for young men to have a better chance for recovery…the best chance possible. It will equip them with tools that they can’t possibly appreciate or fully grasp in a 30 or 90 day drug treatment program. The parents of these young men will be so grateful to have this opportunity to save their sons’ lives!

As for concerns for neighborhood…the community service component of the program will win the hearts of this community, and they will soon appreciate how this school will enhance their neighborhood.

This program will save lives! I wish it had been enrolling students six months ago!

My son is five months into his recovery. He is doing very well! He has found happiness in life, again. He has returned to his conscientious, considerate and respectful nature that had completely disappeared in the wake of his disease. We are so thankful that we were directed to a program that is modeled like Montford Hall. It’s an extreme financial hardship to have him there, but we are beyond happy to have this opportunity.

My prayers for you, Lee Roy, that you will never know the heartbreak that a parent in this situation faces.

Alex August 22, 2013 - 3:49 pm

Dear PFM,

I’d love to connect if possible. akirby@montfordhall.org

Lauren July 29, 2013 - 8:46 am

Right or wrong, like it or not, it will affect the housing values. I’m not for or against. I’m just saying that this does impact selling and buying homes in a community. Just like industry and other things people may associate with “not so good”.

SuperScowl July 28, 2013 - 4:42 pm

this is typical. Asheville Idiocy…..if u abuse drugs, u are a loser, your problems should not involve a massive guilt trip on my part..the poster who said get ready for the beer bottles and crap is 100% correct…..

Montford Hall July 29, 2013 - 2:52 pm

No one is asking you to feel guilty, SuperScowl. You are uninformed about addiction, as well as the parameters of our program. Read up on both first, please; then come back and contribute to the conversation.

Lee Roy July 27, 2013 - 3:46 pm

Sounds like a temporary landing pad for a bunch of spoiled, entitled, pampered and very well healed, substance abusing brats. You can bet your bottom dollar that Medicaid, IPRS (NC DHHS funds)and private insurance will be a minimal part of this program’s revenue. I bet they will even have a scholarship placement every once in a blue moon to show just how benevolent they are. Just out of curiosity, what will be the “first party fee” for a non discounted 30 day stay and what are the administrative salaries???

Montford Hall July 29, 2013 - 3:14 pm

Actually, Lee Roy, insurance won’t enter into our financial equation at all–not because we are only interested in serving wealthy drug addicts (as your comment seems to suggest), but because the unfortunate reality is that this type of treatment isn’t covered by any insurance, public or private.

We have no desire to line our own pockets with this venture (again, as your comment seems to suggest), and as a nonprofit organization, we couldn’t even if we wanted to. All our surplus revenue goes right back into the program.

We do have a scholarship fund built into our annual budget.

As far as your description of our clients: no doubt some will be entitled, pampered, etc. One of our objectives is to help our clients learn humility and respect–so that, to pick a random example, they won’t generalize or make snap judgments about people based on socioeconomic status.

Red September 9, 2013 - 12:24 am

While there is a marginal success rate with “treatment” high schools, it will not reduce the on-going management of addition… As was suggested earlier.

It is unfortunate that this facility will serve the one segment of society that can actually afford to address their problem in any number of ways.

Too bad this help isn’t available to the “average” teen struggling with addiction. Asheville has plenty of those too.

Julie H July 26, 2013 - 9:06 am

Perhaps you misunderstood the purpose of Montford Hall. It is in no way structured to be a half- way house, rather a residential program for at risk teens who have experienced substance abuse in their adolescence. The earlier substance abuse is treated the better the outcome, thus reducing the need for further rehab and/ or half-way house alternatives.

Laura July 25, 2013 - 1:51 pm

I feel sorry for anyone who lives around there. The ‘for sale’ signs are surely going to start popping up if this goes through.

Montford Hall July 28, 2013 - 4:02 pm

Laura, can you explain what makes you feel sorry for Montford Hall’s neighbors?

Laura July 30, 2013 - 12:34 pm

I wrote my reply after I read Doug’s. An upfront explanation like you did later on would have been more helpful.

Montford Hall July 30, 2013 - 6:14 pm

Agreed that more details would have been helpful, but Montford Hall didn’t control what went into the blurb. In any case, we’re glad you feel your concerns have been addressed. Please feel free to let us know if you have any others.

Montford Hall July 25, 2013 - 12:20 pm

Doug S., your concern for our neighbors is admirable but unfounded. Let me explain why.

Montford Hall is not a halfway house, but a long-term residential treatment program for minors who will be supervised 24/7, and whose days will be filled with school, chores, service work, organized recreational expeditions, therapy, AA/NA meetings, and other productive and therapeutic activities. The campus will be smoke-free.

No doubt addicted teens are a challenging population, but our residents will not be “loose cannons.” They’ll be coming to us after intervention/detox, and after stabilization in a short-term program like wilderness therapy or 90-day rehab. We won’t enroll anyone who is an identified “run risk,” who has a history of violence, or who has a primary diagnosis of complicated mental illness like schizophrenia.

Finally, it’s absolutely true that addicts need to be removed from temptation initially, but after a certain point in their recovery, circumscribing their lives to this extent is no longer helpful. Being so close to downtown will allow us to help our residents—safely, and as they demonstrate readiness—confront an increasing number and variety of real-world situations. They will not only learn recovery skills; they will also get a chance to practice and refine them, so that they’ll be better prepared to return home. (Think of it as on-the-job training: Would you put a rookie cop on the beat, a resident in the ER, or even a barista at the espresso machine during the morning rush without it?)

Feel free to visit our website for more information.

JT July 27, 2013 - 10:47 am

Well-written reply. Before reading that I agreed with Doug’s take, you did a great job addressing those concerns.

FDR July 25, 2013 - 12:04 pm

There goes the neighborhood. Just like when a mission moves in under the front of church affiliation. LOL

Murphy July 25, 2013 - 12:02 pm

Here come the NIMBY’s …

Ellen July 25, 2013 - 11:09 am

Hmm… There is a school ranging from preschool to highschool practically next door to that location….

Alex July 28, 2013 - 11:16 am

Just so you know Ellen, the leadership of that school is well aware of Montford Hall and are thrilled to have us as neighbors for all kinds of reasons too numerous list here.

Montford Hall July 28, 2013 - 4:01 pm

Ellen, can you tell me what your specific concerns are with respect to our proximity to Odyssey? Again, these are minors who will be supervised 24/7.

Doug S. July 25, 2013 - 10:11 am

As someone who lives near a few “half-way houses”, I can tell what you have to look forward to; beer cans in the bushes along the street, cigarette butts being tossed in your yard, and very shady drug dealers creeping by at all hours of the night.
A 24-bed facility? Wow, that’s a lot of loose cannons in one place. I always wonder why places like this, and the various “half-way houses” around town, want to be so close to downtown with its many, many temptations? Is this not counter-productive to the mission? I understand the need to be close to public transportation, but city busses have a very large route radius and a facility of this type would seem to be better suited for a quieter part of the county, if they really want to help these folks.

hauntedheadnc July 25, 2013 - 12:03 pm

How true… and this kind of attitude is the reason that treatment facilities and mental health facilities are being phased out and their residents dumped on the streets to fend for themselves in areas of the county both quiet and noisy. It’s also why Mission Hospital, on any given night, is the defacto dumping ground for the homeless, drug-addicted, and mentally ill, contributing to your five hour wait in the ER waiting room when you’ve sliced off a finger.

Face it. They’ve got to go somewhere, and if there are problems with them being near you, it’s time for the community to band together to help fix the problems, not run the people away. The hospital is already overloaded, and it’s not like there’s going to be anyone anywhere who would welcome addicts or the mentally ill. We either have to put them somewhere, or scrape them off the pavement when they freeze to death under the McDowell Street Viaduct in the winter.

Dan July 25, 2013 - 3:44 pm

That’s great that this isn’t a halfway house then. Read the article, and do some research. Sorry you’ve had a terrible experience.

LAR July 25, 2013 - 8:17 pm

Downtown provides “temptation” as an aside. I think it is important for clients to be close to opportunities to be involved in their community — not segregated from it.

Smytty July 26, 2013 - 11:26 am

Yes, let’s ship them all off to Madison County, right?

You are dealing with a population of people who are struggling to defeat their demons, many of whom either cannot afford a vehicle or have lots their license privileges. Being centrally located dramatically increases the chances for jobs and positive social interactions.

Every treatment facility I have ever heard of has a very strict policy against any sort of abuse or backsliding. These half-way houses are intended for people who are committed to working through their struggles to have an avenue to be in a community of understanding people and to have a reasonable level of supervision.

I wish them nothing but the best.

Lexingtonian July 26, 2013 - 1:51 pm

Wholeheartedly Agreed!

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