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When Should Detox Professionals Refer a Client to Long-Term Treatment?

Detox and Treatment professionals play a pivotal role in the continuum of care for individuals struggling with substance use disorders (SUD). They are often at the front lines, assessing the severity of addiction and determining the most appropriate level of care for each individual. In our experience, there are several critical circumstances under which they might refer a person to long-term, chronic addiction treatment like the program at Burning Tree Ranch.

Who We Are

Burning Tree Ranch is a specialty program dedicated to the treatment of chronic addiction and mental health. Our program is long-term, progress-based, and highly intensive. Since 1999, we have supported countless referring professionals in delivering ethical, high-quality solutions to the clients and families they represent.

Circumstances for Referral to Long-Term Treatment

Severity of Substance Use

Individuals presenting with high levels of dependency, frequent heavy use, or those using substances with high addiction potential might require more intensive, long-term treatment to address their addiction effectively.

Co-occurring Mental Health Disorders

The presence of co-occurring mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or PTSD often necessitates a more comprehensive treatment approach that can address both the addiction and the mental health condition simultaneously.

History of Relapse

Individuals who have a history of relapse after short-term treatment programs or outpatient care may benefit from a more structured and prolonged treatment environment to build more robust coping mechanisms and relapse prevention strategies.

Lack of Support System

For those lacking a stable support system at home or in their community, long-term treatment can provide the necessary support and structure needed for recovery, especially in cases where the home environment may not be conducive to sobriety.

Medical Complications Related to Substance Use

Individuals experiencing significant health issues as a result of their substance use, such as liver disease, heart problems, or infections, may require an integrated treatment approach that addresses both their medical and addiction treatment needs over a more extended period.

Observations Informing the Need

Detox and treatment professionals use these circumstances and observations to guide their recommendations, aiming to match each individual with the level of care that best suits their needs. The decision to refer someone to long-term, chronic addiction treatment is based on a holistic assessment of the individual’s physical, psychological, and social needs to facilitate a sustainable recovery.

  • Withdrawal Severity: Observing severe or medically complicated withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification process can indicate a deep-rooted addiction requiring more extensive treatment.
  • Behavioral Indicators: Noticing patterns of behavior that suggest an inability to control substance use, including unsuccessful attempts to quit, using substances under dangerous conditions, or continued use despite negative consequences.
  • Physical Health Decline: Visible signs of deteriorating physical health related to substance use or reports of recurring health issues tied to addiction signal the need for comprehensive care.
  • Psychological Assessment: Assessments revealing deep-seated psychological issues or trauma related to substance use point towards the necessity for long-term therapeutic interventions.
  • Social and Functional Impairment: Identifying significant impairments in social, occupational, or other important areas of functioning due to substance use underscores the need for an extended treatment period to rebuild life skills and coping mechanisms.
Colorized Photo of Main Building at Burning Tree Ranch
Severe or medically complicated withdrawal symptoms during the detoxification process can indicate deep-rooted addiction requiring more extensive treatment.

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The responsibility of Detox and Treatment Professionals in making recommendations for long-term chronic addiction treatment to a client involves a comprehensive approach that prioritizes the client’s health, safety, and likelihood of sustained recovery. This duty is guided by their professional expertise, ethical considerations, and the specific needs of the individual.

Comprehensive Assessment

Conduct thorough assessments to accurately diagnose the severity of the substance use disorder and any co-occurring mental health conditions. This diagnosis is crucial for determining the appropriate level of care.
Creating a personalized treatment plan that considers the client’s unique circumstances, including their medical history, substance use history, and personal recovery goals.

Ethical Considerations

Always acting in the client’s best interest, which includes recommending treatments that offer the best chance for long-term recovery based on current medical evidence and best practices.
Ensuring the client is fully informed about their treatment options, including the benefits of long-term chronic addiction treatment, enables them to make an informed decision about their care.

Advocacy and Support

Advocating for clients to ensure they receive care may involve coordination with insurance companies, other healthcare providers, and treatment facilities.
Providing ongoing support and follow-up to clients as they transition into long-term treatment programs, including facilitating access to community resources and support networks.

Education and Communication

Educating clients and their families about the nature of addiction, the recovery process, and the importance of long-term treatment in achieving sustainable recovery.
Maintaining open and honest communication with clients and their families about treatment progress, expectations, and any adjustments needed in the treatment plan.

Professional Collaboration

Working collaboratively with healthcare professionals, including mental health specialists, medical doctors, and social workers, to provide a holistic approach to addiction treatment.
Managing the referral process to long-term treatment facilities or programs, ensuring a smooth transition, and supporting the client’s continued recovery.

Colorful Rose Bushes at Burning Tree Ranch

Navigating the Journey: Creating Pathways to Long-Term Addiction Care

Detox and Treatment Professionals can significantly influence a client’s motivation to engage in and complete long-term treatment for substance use disorder (SUD) by leveraging their expertise, trust, and the therapeutic relationship.


  • Highlighting the Benefits of Recovery: Emphasizing the positive outcomes of treatment, such as improved health, restored relationships, and enhanced quality of life, can motivate clients to commit to recovery. Sharing success stories of individuals who have successfully navigated the recovery process can also provide hope and inspiration.
  • Educating on the Risks of Untreated Addiction: Providing clear, evidence-based information about the risks and consequences of continuing substance use, including potential health complications, legal issues, and social and familial impacts, can create a sense of urgency to seek treatment.
  • Personalizing the Treatment Approach: Demonstrating how the treatment plan is tailored to meet the client’s specific needs, preferences, and circumstances can enhance motivation by making the recovery process more relevant and achievable.
  • Involving the Family in the Recovery Process: Engaging family members in the treatment and recovery process, when appropriate, can bolster the client’s support system and motivation. Family therapy sessions, educational programs, and support groups can empower families to contribute positively to the client’s recovery journey.

Incorporating Leverage for Treatment

  • Setting Achievable Goals: Working with the client to set realistic goals throughout the treatment process can serve as milestones that build momentum and reinforce the client’s commitment to recovery.
  • Leveraging the Therapeutic Alliance: Building a strong, trusting relationship between the professional and the client can be leveraged to encourage treatment engagement. The desire to make progress and the fear of disappointing someone they trust can be powerful motivators.
  • Utilizing Contingency Management: Implementing contingency management strategies, where specific rewards are provided for meeting treatment goals or maintaining sobriety, can be an effective way to encourage participation and adherence to the treatment plan.
  • Facilitating Access to Resources: Assisting the client in overcoming barriers to treatment, such as financial issues, transportation, or childcare, by connecting them with community resources or alternative solutions can reduce obstacles to starting and continuing treatment.
  • Providing Continuous Support and Follow-up: Offering ongoing support, monitoring progress, and adjusting the treatment plan as needed can maintain motivation. Regular check-ins and encouragement can remind the client of their progress and the benefits of staying engaged in treatment.

By combining these strategies, Detox and Treatment Professionals can create a supportive and motivating environment that encourages clients to embark on and persist in their recovery journey. The professional’s role is to provide clinical care and act as a guide, advocate, and supporter, helping clients navigate the challenges of recovery and move toward a healthier, substance-free life.

Asking the Right Questions

Considering Long-Term Treatment for Your Client

The Need to Act

What are the circumstances?

What are the circumstances under which you may refer a person to long-term, chronic addiction treatment? What are you observing that informs you of the need to act?

Fiduciary Duty

What Is Your Professional Responsibility?

Do you have a moral or fiduciary responsibility to make a recommendation for long–term chronic addiction treatment for your client?

Motivation for Completing Treatment

What can be leveraged to motivate the client?

What motivation for treatment might you be able to create as a trusted professional serving a family’s best interest? How might you incorporate leverage for the client to go and complete treatment?

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We've Worked Closely with Healthcare Professionals to Refer Clients to Burning Tree for Long-Term Treatment

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

Answer a Few Short Questions

Authentic Long-Term Treatment

Burning Tree specializes in treatment for Chronic Relapse

We understand the complex, multi-faceted issues many of our families face when it comes to addiction. The circumstances of long-term residential treatment allow us to create a treatment program unlike anything else in the world.

Operating outside the limitations of a traditional 30, 60 or 90-day format, Burning Tree adheres to progress-based metrics that inform the clinical treatment team of the unique mental, emotional and spiritual needs of the individual.

We are the only treatment center in the United States that combines time-intensive residential treatment with a therapeutically coordinated aftercare program focused singularly on the treatment of chronic relapsers.

Burning Tree is a World-Renown Organization

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