For Families and Loved Ones

“The Family Program showed me how much I have to gain from taking emotional risks; how much I have to gain by stepping out from behind the walls of planning and self-protection; how much I have to gain by facing the disease and how it affects me. Through all of this I found pieces of myself, my spirit was rejuvenated and my relationship with my husband was renewed. In one single moment, we were new again, full of hope, possibility and love.” –Family Program Participant

A very important event is transpiring; your loved one is in treatment at Burning Tree. The disease of addiction leaves many emotional scars on the addict and those close to them. Research and our own experience tell us that the chances of successful long-term recovery increase dramatically when the family participates in the healing process. Your participation in the recovery process is imperative.

Your participation will be requested at an upcoming Family Program. Your presence will help establish the foundation of your loved one’s recovery and for the long-term health of your whole family. You may approach our program with some anxiety and apprehension, especially if you have attended other family programs that were not beneficial or were unpleasant, however most family members report that they leave our Family Program with a sense of relief, renewed hope, and realistic expectations about recovery.

Please be aware that clients sometime experience a desire to shield family members from becoming involved in this experience. Please do not let your loved one make that decision! The clinical team has determined that it is important for you to attend.

About the Family Program

The Family Program is designed to assist clients, family members, and significant others to develop a greater understanding of the impact of addiction on their relationships. Specifically, the program provides hope for and realistic expectations about the recovery experience following treatment. Family members and significant others are requested to attend the program.

Location and Lodging

There are numerous hotels near Burning Tree. We will provide you with maps and phone numbers for specific locations. Staff would be glad to assist you in answering any questions about lodging.


The following is a general schedule of the Family Program:

Gates open at 8:15 a.m. Breakfast is served at 8:30 a.m.

Wednesday8:15 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (all three meals provided)
Thursday – 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (only breakfast and lunch provided)
Friday – 8:15 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (only breakfast and lunch provided)


Breakfast and lunch will be provided all three days. You may join your loved one for the breakfast buffet each morning as early as 8:15 a.m. Dinner is provided on Wednesday night only. You are on your own for dinner on Thursday and Friday nights. If clinical staff deems it appropriate, your loved one will be able to go on pass with you on Friday from 5:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m.


We strongly recommend that participants attend Al-Anon, Families Anonymous, and/or CODA meetings prior to the family program. Al-Anon provides support to family and friends of alcoholics. Families Anonymous provides support for parents of alcoholics and drug addicts. CODA provides support for individuals in codependent relationships. You can locate the nearest meetings by consulting your local telephone book or Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse.


In order to respect the confidentiality of all clients and family members engaged in treatment, cameras, video cameras, and tape recorders are not allowed on the facility grounds.


To minimize disruption to the group as a whole, we ask that all participants commit to attend the entire Family Program. Full benefits only come from participation in all the activities. The content and format of the schedule is designed to build so that each component builds on the previous activities. In addition, the material and experiences occur during a very short period of time. Please make other arrangements for work-related activities to eliminate the distraction of cell phones and pagers, even during breaks.


While visiting Burning Tree, all visitors must abide by posted guidelines and respect other client’s confidentiality.

Clients and visitors are prohibited from taking walks or otherwise isolating themselves from Burning Tree staff.
Burning Tree clients and visitors are not to demonstrate inappropriate public displays of affection.
All visitors are required to read our confidentiality statement.
All visitors must sign in and out of our guest book.
All visitors are required to wear name badges during all visitation periods.
Visitors are not permitted to enter into the dorms or client rooms.

Child Care

Because of the intensity and content of the material discussed, we do not recommend that children under the age of twelve attend the Family Program. Unfortunately, we cannot provide any assistance with local childcare services, so childcare arrangement must be made prior to the start of the Family Program.

Mood-Altering Chemicals

Family Program participants are required to abstain from alcohol and other mood altering substances for the duration of the Program. Exceptions are medications prescribed by physicians.

Your Loved One May Experience:

The temptation to build a “wall” to protect him/herself from the treatment experience.
The temptation to focus on what is wrong with other clients, staff, or the facility or to focus on family matters or any other outside concerns rather than deal with him/herself.
Surprise to discover that others have similar feelings and understand how they feel.
Stronger feelings, such as anger and loneliness, or may feel more hurt, more suicidal, or more out of control.
Strong negative feelings directed towards specific clients or staff members who remind them of someone important in their life.
A feeling of “being fixed” which makes them want to leave treatment despite staff recommendations that they remain and complete the program.
A tendency to feel guilt and shame, which causes them to vocalize a strong desire to repair the damage or to leave and immediately fix the problems they created in their addiction.
A balanced perception of the damage of their addiction on themselves/others and a realistic understanding of the mechanism of recovery.
A desire to shield you from becoming involved in the Family Program or from talking to the counseling staff.

What You May Experience:

A tendency to keep secrets or avoid talking to staff regarding any relevant information regarding telephone/written communication with the client.
A temptation to minimize family problems.
Feelings of resentment toward the client being in treatment and you being left to deal with all outside issues and problems alone.
Preoccupation with problems that easily could wait until treatment is completed.
The belief that treatment for the client will magically fix all family problems.
The desire to minimize the impact of the addiction on yourself or other family members.
Resistance to attending recovery support groups for family members.
A desire to shield the client from any bad news or problems for fear of “setting them off”.
A continued manipulation by your client to meet his or her own self-centered needs.
A sense of hope and optimism.
A strong desire to do whatever it takes to get and keep the family and the client in recovery.

All of these experiences are a by-product of the difficulty involved in making the changes necessary for true sobriety to take root.

Characteristics Of Healthy Families

All members of the family are responsible for their own thoughts, feelings and actions.
Minimal irresolvable conflict occurs in the family.
Minimal fear of change exists.
The structure of the family should be open and flexible.
Family members promote openness and honesty.
All family members are able to show fear and anxiety without embarrassment.
Show respect for individual boundaries.
Parents share equal power.
There is little blaming or personal attacking.
The family does not use scapegoats to deflect attention from family problems.
Positive feelings exist and are fostered by family members.
Task organization within the family is clear and fair.
The family is willing to seek input from outside sources.
Family members can negotiate a solution to their differences.
Responses tend to be coherent and effective.
The family possesses skills for problem solving.
The family is able to adapt to inevitable losses from growth and death.
The family members are emotionally attached to one another by love.
Healthy families have a sense of spirituality—knowledge, trust, hope, peace and reverence.

Suggestions For The Recovering Family

Expect ups and downs; full recovery takes years.
Get outside support from members of Al-Anon, Narc-Anon, Families Anonymous, CODA, etc., and develop outside interests.
Learn more about recovery and how it can affect families.
Keep your home free of drugs and alcohol.
Make your expectations and rules clear.
Talk about problems openly and honestly; avoid giving lectures.
Become willing to meet some of your loved one’s new recovering friends and join in some recovery group activities.
Understand and allow that your loved one will be spending large amounts of time in their recovery pursuits.
Be aware that protecting, shielding and enabling behavior on your part can result in your loved one’s return to old behaviors and feelings.
Use your support group and get advice on the best course of action in case of a relapse.

Remember: You cannot make someone recover. But you can make recovery the most appealing option for your client. Learn how to best support and love. Keep yourself emotionally, physically and spiritually well. That’s the best and most that can be done.

And Remember The Three C’s:
You Did Not Cause It.
You Can’t Control It.
You Can’t Cure It.