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What Families Can Expect: Support Throughout Long-Term Treatment & The Recovery Journey

As addiction advances, family members are presented with crisis after crisis.

When one fire is put out, another quickly develops. There is very little rest for the family of a chronic relapser.

This needs to change.

We invite families to explore the impact of addiction on their lives and begin the process of doing things differently.

It's Time For Your Family to Try Something Different

Our families, like our clients, come to us broken. Having endured years of agony at the hands of a constant, unyielding addiction, Burning Tree Families are ready for something different.

They are ready for Burning Tree!

Unlike traditional 30-, 60-, and 90-day programs, we understand there are no quick fixes for the depth of our clients’ problems. While short-term programs may have worked for others, chronic relapse requires something different—in fact, something extraordinary.

Understanding Addiction as a Family Disease

Addiction wreaks havoc upon families emotionally, financially, and physically. In many cases, it destroys families entirely.

It is an uncomfortable reality to be repeatedly confronted with relapse, dashed hopes, and ever-worsening consequences. It can also be painful for the family to change its response to the addicted loved one’s behaviors, crises, and misadventures.

After all, once the family system acclimates to living with addiction and all the attendant craziness attached to it, each member grows familiar with the patterns, the responses, and the roles they’ve been assigned to play.

Before long, these patterns become normalized, even expected.

By treating addiction as a family disease, we create opportunities for healing, growth, and transformation that extend beyond the individual in treatment.

David Elliot, Founder

“We want our families to come to the Family Program to help themselves, not to help their loved one.”

David Elliott, Founder & President

Burning Tree Ranch At a Glance

What Makes Burning Tree Different from Other Treatment Programs?

Burning Tree is the Nation’s only authentic long-term treatment provider specializing in the treatment of chronic relapse. We address life and death matters as they relate to chronic addiction and mental health.

The Necessity of Separation: Creating Space for Healing

To treat addiction as a family disease, there needs to be separation from the addicted loved one and the rest of the family members.

This separation allows the individual and the family to focus on their healing and growth, free from the distractions and stressors of old patterns and behaviors.

Setting healthy boundaries and practicing self-care allows family members to rediscover their identities and priorities outside the home, laying the groundwork for a healthier, more supportive family dynamic.

What Does Separation Look Like?

We instruct families to limit contact and phone calls with their loved ones at the onset of treatment and ask that discussion topics be restricted to “news, sports, and weather.”

When separation occurs, it allows both parties—clients and families—to begin their healing journey. Each person, family member, and client starts working on their recovery independently.

Is Separation Necessary?

If it weren’t a critical part of our long-term treatment program, we wouldn’t ask families to go through the uncomfortable process of separation from their loved ones.

In our experience, we find that some family members lose a piece of their identity once their loved one enters long-term treatment. Despite the pain of addiction, acting as a problem solver can provide a sense of purpose. Sometimes, a family member may feel lonely because their role as enabler, fixer, or codependent is no longer needed.

As feelings of guilt, shame, or fear come to the surface, some family members may seek to curtail these feelings by buying gifts, showering praise, or dismissing past injuries in hopes that doing so will mitigate the addicted loved one’s discomfort.

Sunset at Burning Tree Ranch - Authentic Long-Term Treatment

Parallel Journeys: Family Transformation During Treatment

As their loved one progresses through treatment at Burning Tree Ranch, families will experience their transformative journey.

Just as their loved one is expected to participate in a twelve-step program, we expect our families to participate, too. We also ask that family members attain a home group sponsor and begin working all twelve steps with their sponsor immediately.

Overwhelmingly, our families show urgency and dedication in answering the crisis call for their loved ones in active addiction. We ask them to apply that same sense of desperate urgency to their recoveries. When they do, recovery outcomes are not only better, but they are sustainable.

Driveway at Burning Tree Ranch in Kaufman, TX
Colorful Rose Bushes at Burning Tree Ranch

Embracing Change: Supporting Lasting Independence in Recovery

Clients and families alike must learn to support themselves through their newly found independence and self-sufficiency. For family members, this means allowing the recovering individual to be held accountable for their own life choices and take responsibility for their recovery journey.

Families emerge from the Burning Tree Ranch experience as independent people with independent programs and recoveries. They will learn to express their support and love more effectively.

They will no longer seek to evade, control, or mitigate a relapse. Instead, they will be responsible for themselves and themselves only. Communication will become more transparent, direct, and authentic.


Struggles & Hopes Before Treatment

As a specialty program dedicated to treating chronic relapse, the Ranch Team has listened extensively over the years.

Here is what Burning Tree families say they need:

Families, WE HEAR YOU!

We promise to be direct, consistent, and straightforward. We will do everything possible to help you move toward a new era of permanent recovery.

Stories of Recovery

What Do Burning Tree Families Say?

We know the Burning Tree program is effective for complex, advanced cases of addiction. We also know what we’re asking families to undertake is far from simple or easy.

The transformative results of the Burning Tree experience are best illustrated through the stories of our families who have undergone the journey firsthand.

Treating Mental Health & Substance Use Together

How We Manage Dual Diagnosis at Burning Tree Ranch

Burning Tree is the Nation’s only authentic long-term treatment provider specializing in the treatment of chronic relapse.

We address life and death matters as they relate to chronic addiction and mental health.

What To Expect

Burning Tree Graduates

Our clients engage in a highly customized, life-altering treatment program tailored to the individual. While the goal is permanent sobriety, the mission is so much more. Here’s what to expect from a Burning Tree Graduate:

Seem too good to be true? Burning Tree is a long-term specialty program that focuses exclusively on the complex needs of chronic relapsers. In fact, that’s all we do.

Burning Tree Ranch Icon in White

How Do I Know If My Loved One is a Fit for Burning Tree Ranch?

Answer a Few Short Questions
A Letter for Families from the Mother of an Alumni Hear the First-Hand Experience from Lisa, Mother of a Burning Tree Ranch Alumnus

Dear Families,

When I started this letter for Burning Tree families I thought about what I would have wanted to hear when I was at the point you are at now. What words of wisdom could someone give me? It wasn’t more addiction horror stories; you’ve experienced that firsthand. My son and I had some harrowing ones and I look back and wonder how we made it through those seven years of setbacks, heartbreaks, and craziness. I assure you it was as bad as it gets; multiple stints in jail, stealing, homelessness and life-threatening injuries and infections. I was willing to do anything to save him without realizing my willingness, my determination, even my love left me open to manipulation and failure. I had to empower myself.

I knew if we continued down this path there were only two endings, long-term incarceration, or death. So I changed my expectations from “fixing” it to just keeping him alive long enough to choose recovery. I gave up trying to make his life normal by keeping him part of family gatherings and talking about going back to school or a new career hoping he would see how great life could be and quit. Yes quit, like it was that easy. I gave up keeping him fed and sheltered. I gave up looking for him when he was homeless and running around like a crazy person fixing his messes, including paying off his debts to preserve his credit rating as if that was the greatest problem he was facing. I committed to keeping him in my life but with boundaries. No more bringing him back to stay at my house, no more money or food or bailing him out of jail but always letting him know I would be there in an instant if he decided to get clean.

I have an MBA, run an $80 million company, been through 4 back surgeries only to become a yoga instructor and I had to finally admit I couldn’t do this; I couldn’t fix his addiction. That one choice, that one decision was critical in leading us to Burning Tree and, even more importantly, sticking to that choice was the difference between success and failure in the program.

I had to stop being what I thought was the best parent. That manual, the one none of us ever received when they were born, if it existed and it had a chapter on addiction it would be one sentence…. forget everything you just read about being a good parent. To do what’s best for an addict you have to resist the urge to take care of them, believe what they tell you and give them second, third and fourteenth chances. I never stopped loving him, I never gave up hope and believe it or not I never got angry at him. I held on to who I knew he was but had to be realistic about who the drugs had turned him into. I could no longer deal with him based on the son I had known and loved. I learned to hate addiction.

I realized I was fighting a broken system, in hopes of saving a broken soul, in the midst of a family that was breaking apart and that made me angry.

If love and determination alone could save him, I assure you he wouldn’t have needed anything else. I had both in spades. I had to change course as I reached my breaking point. I had to choose to empower myself to save him. That is my best advice to you. Instead of feeling helpless and allowing yourself to be manipulated, take control. If you’re reading this letter, you are at the end of your rope.

If your family member is at Burning Tree what you’ve done in the past hasn’t worked. Hand over the wheel to the people that know what works. Play by the rules the staff set and begin to hold your loved one accountable. There is no one better than a recovering addict/alcoholic to see through the bullshit of another addict/alcoholic.

They have entered a place where there is no place to hide so don’t you give them one outside of Burning Tree Ranch. The staff are not being cruel or mean by insisting on routine, and hard work, sweat and yes lots of tears. Allow them to be confronted and to confront themselves. Allow yourself to be realistic about this devastating disease and allow Burning Tree to assist you in finally being part of the solution. Let go, your loved one is the right place, this is not your problem alone to solve anymore but you are a critical part of the solution.

What can you do? Be supportive, believe what the staff is telling you and follow their guidance. They are a thousand percent invested in guiding them to recovery and they know what it takes to get there because most of them have been there. Listen to your loved one but don’t try to fix it. Show up for visitation and take the weekly phone calls. What you say, don’t say, do and don’t do can be the difference between recovery and another relapse. Be their lifeline but for once in a healing, helpful way. Take advantage of them being safe and take care of yourself. Attend AL ANON meetings, take a vacation, rest easy. My hope for you is that you are at the beginning of the end of this nightmare. You have committed financially, emotionally and you can help end this. You have paid your dues and it’s time for the pay off.

Gerad has been clean and sober for over 3 years, and I am in awe of him. He chose life, he chose to put in the work and give in to something bigger than himself and most importantly he keeps doing the work and so do I. Stay the course that Burning Tree has put them on; support them staying for aftercare and you can get your loved one back and just as important get your own life back. It takes a lot of love and a lot of grace to survive this and come out the other side. You’re on the right path. Stay the course.

~Lisa M.

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A Letter for Families from Our Clinical Director Read the Sincere Message for Families of Loved Ones Entering Our Program

Dear Families,

I often meet you after the whirlwind that ends with your loved one arriving at Burning Tree Ranch. I meet you in the space between relief that your loved one made it into long term treatment and fear that they won’t stay long enough to accept the help being offered. It is in this space that our treatment team will begin construction of something new with you. But remember – new construction takes time and growth is sometimes painful.

We talk with our families at length about how time is one of our greatest gifts at Burning Tree Ranch.

We know that 30-, 60- and 90-day treatments have not worked for our clients. If it did they would have been sober already. While there are people who can get sober in those facilities, our clients just aren’t those people.

When working with families, I often reference this odd form of amnesia that possesses the alcoholic and addict. It is baffling to watch someone be so desperate and distraught after burning it all to the ground and then, sometimes within days, be equally as convicted that they can control it, or it wasn’t that bad. I see families have this same amnesia.

Families share the same desperation when trying to get their loved ones to treatment. They become equally as convinced that the client is doing well despite a professional clinical team stating otherwise. The client will begin to look better physically, begin to sound better and start to believe that maybe 6 months is long enough. Families will start to question if Aftercare is really that important despite their loved one’s history of doing well in all those other treatment centers only to relapse a short while later.

Early on we begin to talk with families about their participation in the disease and most will, without fail, provide assurances that they are committed to doing what we ask of them. Then, as the client begins to have feelings, to be held accountable, and as their disease begins to ramp up, we will hear families start to defend their loved one, to ask for exceptions; some even begin to question the processes and approaches we have here.

At Burning Tree Ranch, we will ask that you begin participating in treatment the way we believe you need to. We are going to ask that you trust the process and follow the direction of the treatment team. We are going to ask that you attend a series of activities like a Family Workshop, Family Program, etc. and begin participating in Al-Anon. We will begin to confront ineffective family dynamics in real time, even if they are uncomfortable for you. We view this as a life and death errand and frankly, we are okay with you and your loved one being uncomfortable.

What we know to be true is that you love your addict/alcoholic. What we also know to be true is that the disease of addiction takes love and uses it as a weapon. Sadly, we have seen many families literally love their addict/alcoholic to death. At Burning Tree Ranch, we are going to ask that you let go of your control, hand us the reins and follow direction. This will be difficult at times. There will be moments when you may not want to do what we are asking you to do. But even when it’s hard, we are going to ask that you support our process – and do it anyway.

We aren’t for everyone and we understand that, but, we do have a way – and it is a way that works.


Meghan Bohlman, LPC, LCDC, EMDR Trained

Clinical Director – Burning Tree Ranch

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What To Expect

Family of Graduates

Our families come to us skeptical and uncertain – even hopeless. Upon completion of the program, here’s what to expect from a Burning Tree Graduate’s Family:

Feel unattainable? Burning Tree clients undergo a long process of transformation. Our families do, too.

Burning Tree Ranch Icon in White

Looking Ahead: Life After Burning Tree Ranch

Our aftercare program is designed to help clients merge their newfound sobriety with the demands and challenges of everyday life. We recognize that transitioning from the structured, supportive residential treatment environment to the real world can be daunting, so we work closely with families to facilitate long-term aftercare.

Burning Tree is a World-Renown Organization

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