The Burning Tree staff takes an integrated treatment approach to dual diagnosis, rather than sequential treatment of chemical dependency and mental disorders. Our team members understand the concept of chemical dependency as a primary disease, while recognizing that untreated psychiatric disorders are a contributing factor to a relapse. Our entire staff is well-trained in recognizing how addiction interplays with other disorders. Through this experience, we’ve been able to help many people who previously could not maintain recovery.


Another strategic element in the treatment of those with dual diagnoses is our combination of traditional forms of treatment with other philosophical and experiential therapies. This combination of treatment methods allows us to recognize and confront problematic behavior and thinking errors that show up in the person’s everyday life. Think of it this way: It’s like they’ve been asleep dreaming that they were awake. We wake them up to their powerlessness over alcohol and drugs, and direct them toward recognizing the reasons for their prior relapses. The staff also helps clients make the connection between everyday behavior and relapse, then teaches them how to manage their psychiatric disorder within the context of sobriety.


We are very fortunate to have two psychiatrists as members of our professional team, Dennis Dalton, M.D., and Frank Floca, M.D. Dr. Dalton is an addictionologist and a recognized expert in this area. Dr. Floca is a psychiatrist who is board certified in psychiatry by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology. Both doctors are highly skilled in diagnosis, medication, and therapy appropriate for other disorders in context of, and within treatment recommendations for, chemical dependency.

At Burning Tree Long Term Rehab, we design a specialized treatment plan to assist with problematic areas. Clients are given individualized treatment and therapy to assist them in developing coping strategies and a structure for daily living, both of which are essential to successful sobriety. Our daily routine and behavioral guidelines are designed to assist the dual diagnosed client in developing these two qualities. The unmanageability and self-indulgence of the addictive lifestyle must be replaced by a personal responsibility and developing self-care in respect to both diagnoses.

Our staff assists the client in developing self-discipline and consistency around taking medications. We also teach the client to eliminate the drug addiction mentality that they know what is best for them and, instead of practicing self-diagnosis, relinquish control of their treatment and medication therapy to the direction of their treatment team. Such thinking errors often cause relapse unless interrupted and replaced by conscious effort to manage both diagnoses simultaneously.

For many Texas residents, past treatment of an addiction to drugs or alcohol may have been unsuccessful due to an undiagnosed mental health disorder. That mental health disorder may have exacerbated the addiction and made relapse prevention virtually impossible. It’s an issue recognized by more and more health care professionals these days, and even though an addiction and a mental illness may have developed at different times, the presence of each disorder can profoundly worsen the other. In response to this type of comorbidity—the presence of two of more disorders in an individual—a dual diagnosis approach can more accurately assess an individual before treatment begins and lead to more effective treatment of both conditions simultaneously.

Comorbidity Affects Texas

In Texas, estimates drawn from a 2005-2006 survey show that 1,695,000 people 12 and older abused alcohol or an illicit drug or experienced dependence in the year prior to the survey and 1,101,000 people here experienced at least one major depressive episode during that time. On a national level, research shows a compelling rate of comorbidity, close to 50 percent of individuals with a severe mental disorder also have co-occurring substance abuse. Furthermore, 37 percent of people abusing alcohol and 53 percent of people abusing drugs also have a mental illness. In many instances, the mental illness may have developed first as suggested by the median age of 11 for the onset for anxiety disorders and impulse-control disorders, years before the median age of 20 for substance use disorders yet abuse and addiction can precede the onset of a mental illness.

The prevalence of comorbidity among people with a bipolar disorder provides a strong case for seeking a dual diagnosis treatment center. According to published research figures, 56 percent of people diagnosed with one type of bipolar disorder (bipolar I or bipolar II) also had a substance abuse or dependence problem. When considering people with any kind of mood disorder, including depression, the number who also had a co-occurring substance abuse disorder fell to 32 percent.