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.
It was my natural instinct as an organizer, planner, rescuer, and problem solver to ask practical questions about the family program, things like: What should I expect? How should I prepare? What will happen? What will be the focus? Atusking these questions, having the answers to these questions would make me more able to control my reactions and emotions; it would have been the easy thing.
So I did the hard thing – I did the opposite. I made a conscious decision to go into the process with no preparation and no expectation, not to ask questions, not to try to prepare. I allowed myself the experience of going into something without having projected the outcome. This for me was the manifestation of faith in the program at Burning Tree Long Term Rehab, faith in that whatever was on the other side of the experience would be good.
In supporting our husbands, wives, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters in their efforts at Burning Tree Long Term Rehab, we are asking that they surrender themselves to the program and the process without preparation or expectation. We are asking that they be willing to step inside themselves and face their addictions and problems with total honesty and a complete willingness to do whatever it takes to get well.
By participating in the Family program with no preconceived notions or expectations, with no preparation, I was giving myself over to the long term program at Burning Tree in the same way that my husband did. I chose to participate fully. I arrived for the family program unprepared and willing to be open and honest.
So as you read this, you are thinking still, what is the family program at Burning Tree like? How is it different from other family programs? It is completely different from other family programs. The counselors are fully committed, wholly present and completely dedicated to creating an environment where honesty and deep emotional connections are possible. The experience is different for each person who participates. We participated as a group; we supported and coached each other. We witnessed emotional risk and total honesty. We felt for each other. And yet, we each experienced something different, something deeply personal and profound. And for all our differences, for the differences in our experiences, I am bound to the people that participated in family with me because in each family’s work I saw pieces of myself.
I cannot tell you what to expect, or what to plan for, all I can tell you is that a willingness to participate fully, without preconceived notion or idea allows for an amazing experience. For me personally, my faith that the experience would be a good one was rewarded. The experience was cathartic and renewing and deepened my own recovery. It 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.
-Elizabeth K. Family
Testimonial about Burning Tree’s long term treatment program. She shares the difference in burning tree compared to past treatment centers.
My name is Beth and I am an alumnus of Burning Tree Recovery Ranch. My story is not unique. In many ways, my experience is like most of the clients that go to long term treatment at Burning Tree. I was a slave to heroin and alcohol addiction for over a decade and I had adapted to a life that included crime, endless lies and spectacular pain. When my family intervened and told me to go to treatment, I couldn’t bear to look my Mother in the eyes and break her heart, one more time. I was absolutely hopeless and I didn’t think that it was possible for me to get sober. Death seemed like a better option. I had been to treatment before, several times in fact. I had been to hundreds of 12 step meetings, I knew all of the catchy A.A. phrases and I could even quote the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous. So, in an effort to give my Mom a break and a good night sleep, I reluctantly agreed to go to treatment, even though I was convinced it wouldn’t work. I was admitted to the Burning Tree Recovery Ranch on August 4, 2003. I was hardened, tired and angry.
I knew immediately that something was different there. You see, it was my intent to get an A+ in treatment and then when my family and friends trusted me again, I would drink and use again. I told myself that the next time I used, I would be smarter, better and no one would know. Lucky for me, the staff at Burning Tree knew the disease of addiction and therefore, they knew me and all my addict tricks. They didn’t want to hear everything that I knew about recovery; they wanted to see a demonstration in my behavior.
As it turns out, I didn’t know much about getting sober. In fact, I didn’t even have a clue what it meant to be powerless. Yes, I had experienced powerlessness, but I couldn’t tell you why I did the things I did when I was using. I had no idea why I couldn’t learn from my own mistakes and why I continued to drink and use even when I didn’t want to. Since I never understood the problem, I never understood why I needed to seek power by working the 12 steps. As a client at Burning Tree Long Term Rehab I studied the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous and worked all 12 steps with a sponsor. I learned that addiction isn’t a moral problem. I was raised to know the difference between right and wrong, I just couldn’t live up to the standards I set for myself. I learned that my mind and body are different than the non-alcoholic and I was not only given education about the disease of addiction, I was given the opportunity to put the solution into practice and begin to live a sober life.
As a client at Burning Tree I was blessed with the time to process core issues with counselors and a psychiatrist who were truly committed to my healing. While in treatment there were many days that I felt misunderstood, confused and alone. I didn’t understand the process or how it had anything to do with getting sober. But with the support of the staff and my peers, I kept on. And then without realizing it, I began to change from the inside out. As if the world slowly came into focus and things finally began to make sense. I learned that I am not a victim to those around me and that I get to be responsible for myself and my actions. I learned to see the value of honesty, integrity, and accountability. I learned that I have value. I was challenged on daily basis and I recovered from a hopeless state of mind and body.
Am I happy, joyous and free today? Absolutely. I lived the majority of my life wishing I could crawl out of my own skin, so experiencing true serenity and freedom is nothing short of miraculous. And, I have had the opportunity to give back at Burning Tree as a 12-Step sponsor. It is an honor to serve those who still endure the torment that is addiction. Now I get to witness other alcoholics and addicts transform into responsible, loving and honest people. Thank you Burning Tree, I will be forever grateful.
I am profoundly grateful to be living in a manner that I am able to write this today: happy, joyous and free. For me, that is predicated on my sobriety today. I was not this way when I arrived at the gate of Burning Tree Long Term Rehab over three years ago. I had been an executive running a profitable company in my mid-thirties: married, house, pool, you name it. I considered myself a “heavy drinker” and was proud of that fact. Alcoholics live under bridges, I just had a DUI…then a PI, then another, then another, then another DUI in a company car, then another PI, then lost my job.
I decided that was good and I would take a year off from working so that I could remove the “stress” from my life and get back on track. After a month I was drinking 100-proof vodka every day, at every waking moment. In my year long sabbatical I was in and out of the emergency room for hydration and to stop the intestinal bleeding. In that I never told the doctors the truth about my drinking they were never able to pinpoint the real reason for my poor health despite their suspicions.
In a short lived moment of clarity I realized that due to my inability to eat I had lost 80 lbs and the idea of going on a job interview without shaking or vomiting was ludicrous! My wife persuaded me to go to a 30-day rehab in South Central Texas.
I spent the first 20 days in their detox unit but made a “rapid” recovery after that and was elected President of the class my last week there. I finally beat this thing! I graduated and ventured into the world a free man. 32 days later I was sitting at my kitchen table with a bottle of vodka wondering what happened. I had no power.
When my family next intervened I stated that I was willing to go back to rehab but it had to be different, as the traditional rehabs just don’t work for me. Burning Tree was that place.
Over the next 8 months I learned what was wrong with me and that the 12 steps of alcoholics anonymous practiced in a controlled environment was the promise that I was looking for. For years I was able to live a good life in all aspects except I could NOT control the behaviors that kept me unhealthy and in trouble with the law. I learned that my DISEASE prevented me from sane thinking and actions on a daily basis.
I learned that my life could become functional again after I achieved a spiritual experience as a result of working the steps of A.A. I learned that selfishness and self centeredness is the root of my problem and that only a power greater than myself could restore me to sanity…..And It has! I am happy with my life today. I can look in the mirror and not be ashamed of what I see.
As a direct result of working the steps I am able to look the world in the eye. I hide from no one. My time at Burning Tree was the hardest and yet most rewarding experience of my life.
I am inherently grateful to the staff at BTRR for their belief in me and their willingness to tell me what I needed to hear regardless of what I wanted to hear. I have made friends in recovery unlike any I have ever had in my life. Friends that are there for me 24/7.
I have a peace and serenity that I was unable to imagine while using. I did a lot of hard work there and I do not regret spilling one drop of blood, sweat or tears. Today I am whole.
I came to the long term rehab program at Burning Tree a broken individual. My passion for life and all it had to offer had become meaningless to me. Drugs and alcohol had become my master and serving it was leading me to certain destruction. I pretty much had lost all hope when, thankfully, I had the opportunity to come to the Ranch and start my life over.
The Ranch taught me how to live a sober life and how to love again. The emphasis on the 12- steps, as well as the concept that alcoholism and addiction are a disease, became my truth. Upon this truth my life began to dramatically change for the better. For the first time in years, I became available to myself, my family, and everyone else in my life. Ultimately, the Ranch gave me the freedom to live a healthy life. That freedom is indescribable and I will be eternally grateful for it.
Burning Tree was unlike the other residential treatment programs this alumnus tried to beat addiction. Her testimonial centers around her review of how long Burning Tree has been working with relapse prevention.
I watched for years as Craig battled with the disease of alcoholism and addiction. After multiple trips to rehab, countless attempts by his family and myself to somehow try to ‘fix’ the problem, it was apparent that Craig was of the hopeless variety. By hopeless, I mean what the progression of alcoholism leads to, death.
On January 31, 2005, Craig entered the program at Burning Tree. He followed the suggestions and guidance from the staff and gradually transcended from a completely hopeless state of mind, body, and spirit, into a man whose character, spirituality, and work with others is a daily inspiration to me.
Not only was Craig offered a new way of life, but the family program at Burning Tree gave me the tools and resources to understand my active role and to learn how to take care of myself.
The staff at Burning Tree encompasses the genuine love, dedication, and strength of angels. They gave Craig, and me, the opportunity to live and walk a second journey- a journey that is isn’t filled with holes of anguish and desperation, but instead, spiritual freedom and joy.
Thank you Burning Tree, for teaching us that there is a solution. I am forever grateful.
I will forever be indebted to Burning Tree Long Term Rehab for guiding my daughter into recovery and helping me to better understand her illness and how to cope with it. There were many years that I woke up every morning afraid to watch the news because I was certain that the next drug related death they announced would be my daughter. She had been to treatment twice before Burning Tree. She has now been sober since 8/4/03 and it is heartwarming to see not only that she finally cares for and respects herself, but that she is selflessly sharing this knowledge and her experience with those around her.
Thank you Burning Tree, from the bottom of my heart.
I suspect that the greatest bond of compassion in life might be between the parents of an addicted child. I love your mother’s comment, “if you are reading this, you can probably relate.” I think that the first real epiphany in my life came with the birth of our first son, when I realized how precious life really is. The second epiphany came when I realized the depths of the love that flows from the parents of an addict, and the searing pain that goes accompanies it.
The first time Matt went into a thirty-day program for his heroin/cocaine addiction, I feared that association with hardened addicts might ruin any chance he had to escape his addiction. Matt seemed misguided, whereas the addicted population seemed somehow evil, and I feared contamination. Through my involvement in that first program I began to see that all addicts were as sad and trapped and desperate as my son. My compassion grew for them, and for their families, and I understood a little more about the disease – but I still didn’t get it.
I didn’t get it through a cascade of thirty-day programs all over the country, as the drugs kept reclaiming Matt’s life and dominating our family’s existence. After many years the inevitable overdose call came from the hospital, the one that had come to several of Matt’s closest user-associate’s parents, the one that precedes the funeral and the final end of the fear. But Matt survived. We listened to Matt’s sponsor’s advice, “Let go; let God,” but we simply couldn’t walk away – not while Matt still begged us to help him find a way to live in sobriety. My wife started calling more programs, confused by the lack of solid information, but desperate to find new hope; I bought time by taking Matt to the mountains to keep him away from the dealers. Finally she ended her telethon, telling me that she had found someplace new and different in Texas, Burning Tree. So we sent Matt off yet another plane to yet another program, still hoping, but more with the hope of the desperate than the optimistic hope that we had many years before, with Matt’s first program.
I still don’t understand the miracle that occurred over the next year of Matt’s life. I know that it was a very difficult year for Matt, and that there were times when he almost didn’t make it to the next day. But I also know that he just celebrated his second year of sobriety, that he has a renewed love of life, and that at the end of each of our frequent phone calls, I realize that I am smiling. I have formed strong bonds with the loving parents of other many addicts, and I wish that they all could finally feel the serenity that we now know, and that their child could find the sobriety that Matt now treasures.
Last year Judy and I came to the 4th of July picnic at the Ranch. Jordan had been at the Lodge for about 2 months and, while progressing, was far from doing well. The Alumni talks were very encouraging to us, and I prayed that we’d be back for the 2007 Alumni & Friends Reunion with Jordan giving one of the talks. Thanks to God and the Burning Tree program it happened! June 30th was indeed a day of celebration and gratitude.
Thank you for establishing the Burning Tree Program and personally being a part of Jordan’s recovery. We are thrilled with and proud of the progress he has made and the direction he is going. Thanks for also sponsoring a great party!
Coming back to the Ranch for the reunion is always an exciting time for me. The excitement begins the moment I merge onto the highway headed to Kaufman Texas. Each year as I drive back to the Ranch I am filled with memories of my first drive there, rides on the van, the 4th of July parade, trips to the hospital, and I could continue on and on. I still cannot believe that I am the one that comes back as a sober alumni with almost 4 years of sobriety. Each time I stand and share my experience with the present clients and their families, I am filled with such gratitude that I was given the chance to attend the ranch, and that I have continued to work the program after leaving. It is a pleasure to see the staff when coming back not only to thank them, but to also let them know that there are some of us who are still making it on the outside world. Life is different outside of the Ranch, but I honestly do not think I could have done it had I not spent my time there and learned the things that I did while I was in there. It is wonderful to see the group that you lived with for almost a year come back together at least for 1 day. We share a bond like no other. The ranch and AA make that possible. The fire works are an end to a wonderful day of memories, fellowship, and hope. Every time I see them they bring me into the Now completely! I pray that I continue to remain in service and in the work and as long as I do I will be at every reunion. Thank you for all that you do!
-Natalie M, 11-12-03″
As a parent who was caught up in the never ending cycle of dealing with a child’s seemingly hopeless addiction, I am one of the lucky ones who found Burning Tree. Our family had tried every type of rehab program, some quite well known, only to find the vicious relapse cycle start over time and time again. The toll on the family was so extreme, that we almost became dysfunctional. When our daughter entered Burning Tree, we were not optimistic due to her heavy heroin addiction. However, once we finally understood that we needed to turn full control over to the professionals at Burning Tree so they could do the work they do, a slow change began that then steadily improved. The program took time, but it was well worth the wait—today my daughter is eight plus years sober, gainfully employed in a job of her choosing, with a wonderful young family. Our gratitude could never be expressed in words, just tears of joy. Thank you Burning Tree.
Joel H. Family