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History of Burning Tree Ranch est. 1999

David Elliot
It’s not just about quitting drugs or alcohol. This is about establishing a life worth living.”

~ David Elliott



Burning Tree Ranch was founded in 1999 by pioneer, philanthropist, and recovered alcoholic, David Elliott.

In 1991, facing 20 years in prison, David found himself in a treatment center on his knees. It was here that he prayed, “God, this is too much, I can’t do this. I am willing to do whatever it takes not to pick up a drink or a drug. God, please help me!”

Like so many who seek treatment at Burning Tree Ranch, David’s years-long struggle with chronic relapse had finally brought him to a place of surrender. As he began to hit his knees daily, one day at a time, weeks passed into months, and months into years.

Today, with over 30 years clean and sober, David Elliott serves as the President and Founder of Burning Tree Ranch.

Here is a little bit about our history.

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Meet the neighbor who helps people find sobriety and ‘a life of excellence’

Alcohol, marijuana and cocaine brought David Elliott to the brink of a 20-year prison stay before he learned how to live chemical free.......


David’s journey into long-term sobriety was born of a moment of clarity.

Like many who enter the Ranch, his awakening did not come at the end of a bender, but while fully sober in a treatment center.

David remembers the early days of his recovery like this, “I would be completely surrendered one minute, and the next minute I’d be back into self-will, wanting to cheat, wanting to lie, and recalling that moment on my knees, and my pledge to God.”          

“Pitiful and incomprehensible demoralization,” David calls it. “That’s what it was.” 

On his knees again, now on a daily basis, David was finally able to accept the terms for a full and useful life in recovery.

What was he to do with it?



From the very beginning David wanted to create a similar program to the one he attended in Arizona. He knew he wanted it to be a ranch setting, 12-step based, and long-term. 

In the late 1990’s, the nation had more than its fair share of 30-day treatment providers. But what about the chronic relapser? What about the persons for whom short-term treatment had not worked? Where would they go? How would they be helped?

David’s most puzzling question persisted, “why are there no treatment centers based on the individual’s progress?”

Searching all over South Texas and the Hill Country, David engaged in a 2-year endeavor that took him to many properties, all of which fell through. By chance, he was encouraged to look at some ranches near the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. 

One of those was Burning Tree Ranch. 

Spanning 2,000 rolling acres, punctuated with ponds, small lakes, and tree lines, the drive was just 45 minutes southeast of Dallas, TX.

“This could work,” David mused.

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After two years of searching, David’s biggest supporter, his mother, came with him to see the Burning Tree property. As they approached the gated entrance, David’s mother turned to him and asked, “David, how do you continue to do this, to go on with this search?” 

“I get on my knees, Mom, and I ask God to take me wherever He would have me be of maximum service to Him and my fellows.” 

“But David, how do you know if here is where God would have you be?” 

“Well, I’ve never seen a burning bush, Mom, but I…”

At this very moment, David and his mother pulled up to the entrance to the property. In bold lettering, they read the signage above, BURNING TREE RANCH. 

Astonished, they both looked at each other, “this must be it!”

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History of Burning Tree Ranch


From humble beginnings, Burning Tree Ranch has evolved into what it is today.

Designed to help the chronically addicted loved one overcome addiction, establish a healthy and productive life, and achieve permanent freedom from relapse, Burning Tree Ranch is a progress-based inpatient and aftercare program, specializing in the treatment of addiction and co-occurring disorders. 

Hosting six family workshops per year, a 3-day family program, and an annual reunion, Burning Tree relies on the fundamental methods of addiction medicine, evidence-based therapies, and twelve step immersion to help effect permanent sobriety and whole-family healing. 

While other treatment centers invest in keeping their clients comfortable, cozy, and happy, Burning Tree Ranch invests in the therapeutic value of honesty, integrity, and excellence. We are a long-term, progress-based program designed to address the root causes of addiction and establish an unshakable foundation in life-long recovery.

While the work we do is complex and time-consuming… 

 …It is also lasting.

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Burning Tree is a World-Renown Organization

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