Addiction and Relationships: The Hard Truth About the Impact of Addiction

Addiction and Relationships



The strength of personal and romantic relationships is truly put to the test in recovery from alcohol or drug abuse. 

Marriages—or other, long-term, committed relationships—and substance abuse don’t mix. If your partner drinks too much, the effect is felt by his or her spouse and children, friends, relatives, and coworkers. 

Many would argue that, aside from the drug abuser, the abuser’s partner often pays the highest price. 

Keep reading to learn the hard truth about addiction and relationships. 

How Addiction Harms Relationships

There are a handful of signs that drinking or drug abuse by a significant other is causing harm to their relationship to the point where intervention from a treatment professional is needed. 

We Understand Chronic Relapse

We understand how many times you’ve tried to get your loved one help. The difference with us is that we have the time, expertise and concern to help your loved one recover. Find Freedom

The Following Signals Are Common Warning Signs Seen in Couples Where One Partner Suffers from a Substance Abuse Disorder

1. Secrecy

If your partner begins to use drugs or alcohol excessively, they may not be open about it in the beginning. They may feel guilt, shame, and fear of judgment. If they feel that others won’t support them or understand their situation, they can turn to secrecy. They may lie to their loved ones about:

  • Who they are with
  • Where they are
  • Why they’re behaving differently
  • The events of the day
  • Why money is missing

It’s possible that secrecy will increase until the person is in complete isolation—distancing themselves from everyone they love. Secrecy can ruin relationships. This puts an immense strain on any romantic or other personal relationship. 

2. Differences Between Fact and Fiction

With secrecy comes increased lying and deception, so it’s only a matter of time until a loved one begins to notice the differences between fact and fiction. 

If your partner is lying about abusing drugs, it’s understandable to form trust issues due to the perceived lack of respect, honesty, and dedication from your partner.

Even in a healthy relationship, honesty and trust are key. Reduced trust usually leads to other issues such as anger, jealousy, fear, and resentment.

3. Anger and Violence

As a relationship deteriorates due to drug and alcohol abuse, anger and violence often emerge as concerns. Frustrations are high—even more so if someone is using a substance known to cause aggression. These situations become dangerous fairly quickly.

If you live with an addict, you’re at greater risk of victimization. You may experience an increase in frustration that leads you to express anger or act out violently against your partner. 

It’s important that anyone experiencing domestic violence in their relationship contacts a domestic violence hotline. 

4. Enabling

Sometimes loved ones will transition into an enabler when trying to help their loved one recover from substance abuse. 

Enabling behaviors include: 

  • Accepting blame
  • Making excuses
  • Taking on responsibility for the behaviors, feelings, and actions of your addicted loved one
  • Working hard to minimize their negative consequences

An example of enabling is offering money to the user on a consistent basis that they can use to buy drugs. He or she may ask for money for bills, gas, or groceries, but the money goes to drugs. Often, the loved one provides the money anyway, but they must draw a line to get the attention of a loved one who is addicted to drugs.

5. Codependency

Codependency is similar to enabling, but codependent individuals often get involved in relationships that are one-sided. They may feel overwhelmed by their partner’s needs but have an overwhelming sense to take care of that person.

Codependent People:

  • Are willing to compromise their own wants, needs, and beliefs to keep their significant other or loved one calm and content
  • Control others because they don’t think they can function independently without them
  • Are very cautious and aware of the emotional changes of others
  • Maintain commitment and loyalty to their loved one despite a lack of reciprocation
  • A codependent person needs the substance abuser as much as the addict needs the codependent. 

Their entire identity may become consumed by the feeling to serve or sacrifice for their partner while acting to fulfill their own needs for attachment and closeness. 

Codependent relationships often walk hand-in-hand with enablement—as the caretaker will often try to cover for the addict or resolve their issues instead of allowing their loved ones to face the consequences of their actions.

Not all couples will show these warning signs, but if one of them is present in your marriage or relationship, it may be time to consider ways to make the relationship better. 

In most cases, drinking and drug use must stop to identify and address the problems within the relationship. You may think these issues will resolve themselves over time, but that’s rarely the case. The best thing to do is to get treatment for your loved one as soon as possible, or at least contact a recovery center to discuss how they may be able to help. 

Can Treatment Help Your Relationship?

Many treatments can be effective in reducing—if not eliminating—problems with alcohol or other drugs. Some recovery centers focus on individual counseling, while others prefer group counseling or both. 

As your loved one is in treatment, there are also support groups that can offer solace during this difficult time. At least you know you’re not alone in the fight to battling your partner’s addiction. 

If your partner has a problem with drugs or alcohol—and you want to be with this person—getting him or her to enter treatment is the best thing you can do for yourself and your relationship.

What Happens to Your Relationship During Treatment?

Involving partners in treatment—at some point in the process—can be essential in helping treatment succeed. 

Sometimes, couples are surprised to find that they’re still fighting after the substance abuse has stopped. It’s vital that problems in the relationship are addressed during recovery. Relationship issues don’t just go away when drinking or drug use stops. 

If relationship issues are not treated, conflict can and will return. This could lead to a relapse in drinking or drug use. So, lasting substance use recovery depends, in part, on a better relationship. 

Stop Chronic Relapse

We use time and expertise to remove resistance from chronic relapse. Traditional, 30-day treatment does not work with chronic relapse. Learn why our approach is different and works. Find Freedom

Addressing Addiction and Relationships in Recovery

Preventing an addiction may be impossible, but loving and observant partners often recognize the signs of substance abuse before anyone else. 

The truth is, juggling addiction and relationships is a truth many loved ones must face. If you have cause to suspect a substance abuse problem, you should confront your partner without judgment or a tone of confrontation. This will give them an opportunity to come clean before submitting to professional treatment. 

We’re here to help you talk to your significant other about achieving lasting sobriety. For more information, call 877-389-0500 or contact us here to learn more about our programs.

Find Recovery, Not Just Sobriety.

20 Responses

  1. I don’t know how can I help my partner fight with his addiction we been having problems in our relationship as well and I’m scared to lose him I want to make him better but I don’t have many choices we’ve been together for almost 2 years now can someone please give me some advice ?

    1. I have been with my boyfriend for 9 months now and he has an addiction to meth. I was fine financially when we met and now I am facing homeless and repossession of my vehicle. I am embarrassed to ask for help from my parents – I know they will help me but I have to tell the truth and come clean. I’ve never dated someone with a drug habit, didn’t know he had one til we got more serious. It’s ruined my life and I also lost custody of my child because I am not able to provide for my child anymore. I want him to leave and he won’t leave. At least without a huge argument and blame. It will be all my fault, etc. Bottom line is: I lost everything in hopes that my boyfriend would become a better person. He’s not, he’s just using me. I am the one who suffered not him. I don’t know what to do.

      1. I am in a similar situation, over 6 years, I never knew he was an addict. I was never exposed to it before. I was doing great financially also and now I am struggling. Throughout the years he would blame it on alimony was the#1 excuses that he had no money. He was controlling and would seem to always pick fights with me over nothing. He moved in with me and then I saw his quirks. He didn’t respect my home or my rules. This went on for years. I had finally had enough so I started the eviction process, he lived with me and couldn’t pay me rent or help out. I didn’t back down. He decided to go into rehab. After the years of lies, manipulation, the gas lighting, he deceived me and took advantage of my giving nature and my love. He told me once that I would break his heart, but in fact he broke mine. The relationship for me is over. I can truly say I cannot trust again.

        1. Same thing happened to me. It’s an absolute nightmare. I have no trust in anyone anymore. I lost so much. Biggest thing I lost was myself though.

      2. I’m an active meth user have been for 11 years now daily I lost my wife and my kids due to it. I am trying really hard right now to get sober because my mom of 30 years started drinking alcohol again after that long of sobriety and it’s the only thing she has to throw up in my face so I’m getting sober but the more sober I get the more I realize just what it messed up and how little I cared about anyone around me and I am very very sorry for it but at the time you could not have changed my mind. if he has costed you everything he is the type of addict that you’re not going to ever be able to fix. The best thing you can do is to save yourself even if it means him going to jail. I know that that’s a lot easier said than done but you have to get yourself away from that. That type of addiction personality is suicide if you stay with and I don’t believe you’re a suicidal person you’re going to have to jump off that ship before it sinks.

      3. I am currently in the same situation as you, but have been with my boyfriend for 2.5 years. I will tell you that it’s just best to leave now while it’s still early. I waited so long and nothing changed. All of the promises to get better never happened. What your boyfriend need is true help, and what I learned is that it is NOT your job to be that for him. Do what is best for your child and leave him to figure his own things out. You are not his savior and only he can choose to change. Don’t waste years like I did.

    2. This is coming from a very short time of not using. As the user I was. Hiding it and lying and just being d
      Deceitful.. the woman of my dreams said she gave me chances but I didn’t really notice them. When she found out I just started telling her everything. I was using for my pain because I don’t have insurance. If I had insurance I would probably be subscribed more from the Dr then I b get now. We were hanging out watching a movie on her Thursday about 3 weeks ago. My niece came over and they started talking in our. Bedroom. A friend of the family came by and all of a sudden I had to go to rehab and I really don’t do that much. Anyway she literally took all of her stuff and left. Mind you we just found out we are pregnant. I have literally been alone without my little family for almosta mont now. She has a daughter and so do I. They call each other sister. We were together a little over a year and we absolutely adored each other and now I have nothing. I quit using and drinking all on my own. I think if you truly love them you shouldn’t leave them because you don’t know how hard it is even when you truly love someone. Leaving them just makes you feel lonely and depressed and it makes you want to go back to using and drinking to cover the pain. I have been so defunctiom … It’s hard to eat it’s hard to get motivated to do anything. I love going out woods just looking doing fun stuff with our kids etc. I’m in the worst pain. Wasn’t even. ever pleasel if you love them stay buy there side because I want you to get better. I know I would be 99% happy and just washed boboth burritjimng and I will not do that .I love you tyler. I wish more than anything is she is pregnant and jus leaves on the same day we got our ultrasound. I hurt really bad. Nothing compares that is awesome.!!! She is trying to take it so she can get child support. Is what it sounds like. I pray you are wrong.

  2. Leave the relationship. I thought my partner was sober and gave him an ultimatum that it was me or drugs 6 months in to our relationship- he “chose me”. 8 years into the relationship he revealed he never stopped using and has just hid it from me using calculated lies, smoke screens, deception. I loved him and trusted him more than anyone in the world. Sad truth- active addiction is stronger than love. You will be ok without him.

  3. I’m so sad and miserable. I’m a therapist and work in substance abuse and dropped my parter off at rehab bc it was his choice, I’m very proud of him. He got out and moved in with his parents, I am pro that or a sober living house, I saw him once and gave him the biggest hug ever. I asked about his dogs, I was taking care of bc he didn’t get out of bed for months, he promised I would see them again snd him again. I texted once about meetings in the area my clients prefer. There hasn’t been much communication since then. I wish he would give me the chance to be a support system, I am so in love with him I would never drink again if we were a part of each other’s lives again.

  4. Hello Anonymous,
    I am in the same boat. My husband and I are married a year. There were lies in the beginning, I believed them. He was recovery, but lied about how long. Many other lies came out, they are still coming out.
    Anyways, the past year has been a struggle for me as his wife. I have never been around an addict very much. I have family members that are addicts, but never been around them any length of time. So I jumped head first into something I had no clue about.
    With any woman, you have this instinct to take care of your loved ones. No matter what, you want to help them while they are sick. So when he was so drunk, I would help him. Months of taking him to get detoxed, helping him while he was drunk, hiding his drinking, and catching him drinking (“when he was sober”) was doing him worse. I found out I was enabling his drinking and his behaviors while drinking. I even found out just a little bit ago, I was a codependent. I was doing more harm for my husband than hutting.
    At the beginning of the year, I told my husband, “if you drink again, I will have to leave”. I love this man so much, and the last thing I wanted to do was leave. This is why it still took me months to finally leave my husband. I continued to give him chance after chance.
    I finally had to leave. There is a lot more to this story, but I finally left. I assured him, I was not going to divorce him and I was not going to find anyone else. I would not come back to him until he got help. Really got help.
    He went to rehab 2 months ago, and the program is a year long. I miss him terribly, but this is what is best for my husband. He is learning how to put God first and deal with his addiction. He still has a long road, but there is progress every time I see him.
    My advice, sit down and look at your situation. You have to set boundaries and keep them. You may have to start small. My first boundary was not to help him when he is drinking. Then it went to no alcohol in my presence. Just no drinking didn’t work with him.
    That made him think if he drank outside, then could get away with it. I had to change it. No alcohol at all around me. If he drank it, it would be in his system. Then the alcohol was still around me.
    If you say you will leave, leave. It will be hard, but keep it. He has to be held responsible for his actions. With the help of God, your loved one will get help.
    Please do not think “if he loved me he would choose me”. The addict part in his brain can’t. My husband loves me and truly tried. He just needed help. He needs help to learn how to live life with out turning to substance. He needs to learn how to deal with his past without it triggering his addiction.
    This is a hard road. I would not want anyone to deal with this. You will get through this. Turn to God, praise him in this time, and keep your eye on only God. He will get you through it.

    1. Omg. You have given me hope. My partner of 10 years both live on opposite sides of the world He is in Dominican Republic I am in Scotland. When I’m with him he is ok most of the time. We can go out and come home together and he is ok. But if he has alcohol on his own this leads to using cocaine and gambling. My heart is breaking. I have realised I’m am codependent. He has been attending groups 3 nights per week. I left the Dominican Republic as I had to come home for Christmas and 4 days without me he has went out again and nit come home. He pawns his fone to get money. His spider speaks a little English and my Spanish is limited. I love this man and have put him before my own family. I feel I can’t live without him. I didn’t think he had a problem because he isn’t drinking every day. I don’t know what do whilst I’m in my own country. My father is a recovering alcoholic. 29 years sober. But if I confined in my family they won’t understand and May judge me. I know they will tell me to leave him. His mother had given up on him. I left 4 days ago. He took my face in his hands and asked me to trust him whilst I was in my country. He tells me he wants to visit my country but any money I have had has been spent on paying his debt. I’m crying constantly. I wish I could be with him right now but it’s impossible for me at the moment

  5. My partner was an addict and we were together for 3 years it was cannabis and alcoholic I left him because I couldn’t cope anymore. He come back a year later and promised change and just gained a new cocaine addicted but because we weren’t living together the second time, he was good at hiding it for a while and I asked him outright and he lied to my face on a number of occasions.. they have to want to change you can’t force it. All you can do is support them. But if your Mh isn’t great and they don’t wanna change you need to go. Save yourself anymore emotional damage.

  6. My husband is a heroin addict. I found out a year ago. I don’t want to give up but I am at my breaking point. All my trust is gone & our love has faded. I find myself now just angry, sad & alone. I feel like I keep bending over backwards to support him but don’t feel any support on my end. I feel empty. He has been using since 2016 & hiding it very well (functional addict) but it all started catching up to him a year ago where he wasn’t functional. Basically I just want to know if I keep going with my marriage & we try to overcome this what should I know? anything I should do for myself? Or us? To get support for myself & us as a couple? I know the answer to leave but I am not going to leave yet so that’s why I ask.

  7. I have recently kicked my partner out who is addicted to crack cocaine. He hid it so well for a while but I started to find paraphernalia and the more I looked the more I found. Until one day he just started to blatantly smoke in front of me. This was it.
    I’m broken hearted. I can sleep; I can’t eat much. I am just trying to plod on through my life but every day I just feel empty.
    I was a co-dependent. In total in denial and at one point making excuses to friends so they wouldn’t think less of him.
    Now he hates me. He’s angry. He is begging outside shops near my home; he sleeps at the top of my road. It’s a constant reminder of the person that I love has gone. It’s like I am grieving. A pain I never wanted to experience and one which is going to take time to heal from.
    How do others cope with this?

    1. Sounds so much like my story. I don’t cope well. I try my best to stay as busy as possible and to go do things for me which I am not used to. I am trying to be normal and show him that there are better things in the world than drugs. If he sees you moving on, maybe it will motivate him to be better. At least that’s what I read. I am trying to do just that, but it is hard. So when I start to feel so depressed, angry, and hurt, I think about all the times he lied, left for days with no contact, and never contributed to our lives other than to destroy and take. When I think about that, I don’t feel guilty about going out and doing things for me. Maybe try to get away for a few days. I am planning ti go away for a few days during my fall break from work. To just get away from home where all the pain is. I do believe that we have to take care of ourselves before our health declines. I have been dealing with this for 5 years. He never gets better. Only for a few months at a time, then right back to the lies, the secrets, being gone. We don’t know who they have been with. So, if they do not care about us and only care about the drug, who will care about us? Only we can start loving ourselves again. I am going tomorrow to get a manicure and pedicure. Something I’ve only done a couple of times but, it’s for me. Go get a new hairstyle, join a gym. I am going to do that myself. Go meet with women going through the same thing. I would like to but not where I am from. I thought about going to bar anon meetings a couple of towns over to meet people in my same situation. I don’t have the answers, but I am going through the same thing. My fiancé has been hitting it hard the last 3 months. Trying to cover it up and I haven’t seen him in 2 days. We have to show them, we deserve better. The only way to do that, is to let go. Yes, they find ways when they are broke to appeal to our hearts, but did they worry about us when they had money to use? No they didn’t. Now it’s time to be strong and live for us. I hope this helps. Wishing you the best!

    2. I wonder the same, I just found out my bf of 2 years has an addiction . He has disappeared since last week. He had butt dialed me and I heard he was sleeping in a tent asking about something in sandwich baggies. When I asked him he denied it all. Then his phone was disconnected and there’s no way of contacting him. I’m so worried, I’ve never experienced anything like this, it’s such a shame. I reached out to his family and they told me to move on so they must know how bad it gets. It’s just so hard. He came at a right time in my life and was so sweet and kind , it never occurred to me he had a problem. I feel so lost , I’ve been researching and the more I read the more I’m shocked. I just can’t comprehend how this happens and the living conditions are so dangerous. My heart literally feels like it’s breaking from just feeling helpless. I want to remember him when I first met him but i have to remind myself it was all lies. Maybe he did have feelings for me but the addiction has won. I am so heartbroken.

      1. the silence they put us through when they’re relapsing isn’t fair. their empty promises to keep the atmosphere light and good isn’t fair. their disregard for their own life and dreams which involuntarily effects us and their relationship to us isn’t fair. seeing them turn into a different person when they are using isn’t fair. continuing to believe the notions that it’s all worth it because “they love you” and “you’re soulmates” isn’t fair. living your life in fear and waiting for the next time your heart drops when they tell you they’ve relapsed again isn’t fair.

        deciding to walk away from them isn’t easy either but it is fair.

  8. I have been struggling with my girlfriend for 3 years now: when she is drinking she often says and does things that are really mean. When I react she thinks its all in my head. She has no idea and tells her family how dramatic I am so everyone else in her life blames me for everything and cannot believe that she keeps coming back. Actually I am the one cleaning her up at night when she vomits herself or bathing her and taking care of her when she’s often being mean. I believe she stays with me because there is comfort in knowing that I will be here and take care of her.

  9. I’ve been seeing someone for 2.5 months. He is an alcoholic but seems to be a functioning alcoholic. We really developed a strong relationship, and even fell in love.. he quit drinking cold turkey, and has been dealing with the withdrawals for a week now. While going through this, he’s completely distancing himself from me, doesn’t tell me he loves me anymore, and is a complete different person. I just don’t know how to handle this or even know if everything he’s said to me over the course of 2.5 months was just the alcohol talking? I’m trying to give him space to recover but things are so weird now. Is this part of recovery or was he never actually in love with me? What do I do?

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Sarah Adams, Admissions Specialist


Admissions Specialist
Sarah serves as a dedicated Admissions Specialist for Burning Tree Programs. Known for her compassionate and insightful nature, Sarah is often one of the first friendly voices a client or family member will engage. “I like to meet people where they are at, listen and learn. It is always an inspiration to get to be the outstretched hand that someone is reaching for in need.” With a degree in biology from Stephen F. State Austin University, Sarah is constantly seeking to expand her education. Most recently, she has begun pursuing her counselor’s license. In her free time, Sarah enjoys reading, traveling, exercising and exploring the great outdoors.
Erik Jokinen, Admission Specialist

Erik Jokinen

Admission Specialist
Erik serves as a dedicated Admissions Specialist at Burning Tree Programs. Being in long-term recovery himself, Erik enjoys helping families and individuals find the same freedom that he and his loved one’s discovered on their shared journey to wellness. With over 8 years of professional treatment experience, Erik’s favorite part of his career is getting to support those in need as they engage in the inspirational process of asking for help. Erik has a 4-year old daughter, one dog and two cats. When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family and attempting to be decent at golf.
Sally LeBeau, Admission Specialist

Sally LeBeau

Admission Specialist
Sally serves as a dedicated Admissions Specialist for Burning Tree Programs. An alumna of Burning Tree Ranch, Sally believes that “by aiding our clients and families in the process of finding a program that best fits their needs, I get to play a small part in helping them accomplish a life beyond their wildest dreams.” Sober since 2005, Sally has over 5 years experience working as a professional in the treatment industry. She believes in the virtues of honesty, integrity, and compassion. Happily married, Sally enjoys the beach, reading, and eating her favorite icecream with her husband, Matt.

"A mEssage To Families"

Brook McKenzie, LCDCI, Chief Operating Officer


Alexis "Lexi" Thomas

Admission Specialist

Alexis “Lexi” Thomas serves as Admission Specialist for Burning Tree Programs. Holding a Bachelor’s degree in Public Health from the University of Arizona, Lexi lends passion, knowledge, and insight to the admissions process. Treating every inquiry with a sense of tenderness and empathy, Lexi knows first-hand what the family member’s experience of addiction feels like. After losing her own family member to addiction, Lexi dedicated her life to helping others find the freedom they deserve. A native of Tucson, AZ., Lexi is happily married and expecting a baby. She counts one dog and a cat amongst her growing family.


Jimmy Epperson

Chief Communications Officer
Jimmy Epperson serves as Chief Communications Officer for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for helping communicate the philosophies of the Burning Tree brand, Jimmy utilizes his background as a journalist to develop meaningful content meant to inspire faith, courage, and hope. Demonstrating strong organizational skills nurtured by his professional background with AT&T and Facebook, Jimmy helps craft the executive communications that promote Burning Tree’s long-established vision of excellence. Married, with two boys, Jimmy’s sister and wife are both graduates of the Burning Tree Ranch; they are still sober to this day.
Lauren Juvers

Lauren Juvers

National Business Development Rep.
Lauren Juvers serves as National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for acting as an ambassador of the program, Lauren’s duties consist of sharing her personal story of recovery, working with professionals who specialize in treating addiction, and giving hope to families who are desperate to help their loved ones. As an Alumnae of Burning Tree Ranch, she describes the program as a “nationally known, long-term residential treatment center for the chronic relapser and treatment resistant individual.” An avid animal lover and PADI-certified scuba diver, Lauren has been sober since 2011. She resides in Dallas, TX.
Julian Duran

Julian Duran

National Business Development Rep.
Julian Duran serves as National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. By educating families and providers on the unique program offered at Burning Tree Ranch, Julian seeks to create as many opportunities as possible for the chronic relapser. Prioritizing open-mindedness, teachability, and faith as the foundational principles of his own recovery, Julian helps our network of community partners continue to grow on a daily basis. Counted amongst his favorite hobbies are weightlifting, reading, dancing and service work. Sober since 2012, Julian resides in beautiful Arizona.
Patty Raymer

Patty Raymer

SR. National Business Development Rep.

Patty Raymer serves as Sr. National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. Active in the national recovery community since 1992, Patty has enjoyed over 30 years of sobriety, service, and excellence in her personal triumph over addiction. Today she helps guide families and clients in their own quest for meaningful, individualized treatment solutions. As one of the most recognizable names in our industry, Patty believes that enrolling in one’s own personal work is the best way for the family to heal from the wounds of addiction. Subscribed to the mantra of “Trust God, Clean House, Help Others,” Patty and her husband reside in the beautiful Texas Hill Country.

KC Gooding

KC Gooding

National Business Development Rep.
KC Gooding serves as National Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. An active committee member for NAATP, NAADAC, and CASA, KC engages with multiple organizations to help expand our country’s commitment to important policy decisions that affect those suffering from addiction. He prioritizes service to others as the cornerstone of his own recovery, and seeks to ensure that as many families as possible are aware of the broad range of services available to support their needs. Sober since 2012, KC and his wife reside in gorgeous Dana Point, CA. He is the proud father of two.
Eric Button

Eric Button

PRSS | Family Liaison & Sr. Business Dev. Rep.
Eric Button serves as Family Liaison & Sr. Business Development Representative for Burning Tree Programs. A customer service expert, Eric unites our families with the clinical process at Burning Tree Ranch, introducing each family to the support, education, and resources available throughout their loved one’s treatment process. As an alumnus, he shares his personal recovery story throughout the United States, helping connect as many families as possible to the wide network of professionals who, like Eric, are dedicated to improving the lives of others. An avid aircraft enthusiast and aviator, Eric has been sober since 2005. He and his fiancé reside in Austin, TX.
Anthony Morengo

Anthony Marengo

Chief Marketing Officer
Anthony Marengo serves as Chief Marketing Officer for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for helping execute the organization’s strategic vision, Anthony leads a talented team of Admissions and Business Development professionals who represent Burning Tree’s three programs, Burning Tree Ranch, Burning Tree West and Renewal Lodge. With over 15 years of treatment industry experience, Anthony’s commitment to his own personal recovery has afforded him the opportunity to help countless individuals. Married with two boys and residing in Arizona, Anthony has been sober since 2004.
Olivia Wilder

Olivia Wilder

Director of Admissions
Olivia Wilder serves as Director of Admissions for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for helping execute the organization’s vision of excellence, Olivia leads a talented team of admissions specialists dedicated to Burning Tree’s philosophy of “creating a life of excellence beyond sobriety.” Trained in multiple intervention disciplines, Olivia utilizes mindfulness, DBT skills, and a solutions-focussed approach to help achieve dynamic results on behalf of the loved one in need. Sober since 2014, Olivia is a proud alumna of Burning Tree Ranch. She counts her two children and loving husband amongst her greatest blessings. Her intervention training includes a specialization on Drug and Alcohol and Applied Suicide
Jade Perry

Jade Perry

Human Resources Administrator
Jade Perry serves as Human Resources Administrator for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for coordinating functions related to the organization’s employees and contractors, Jade helps manage human resources policies designed to support the health, safety and welfare of all Burning Tree personnel. An expert at facilitating health care benefits, Jade is also one of the friendly voices our callers hear when inquiring with the Ranch. Happily married for 25 years, Jade enjoys her nine grandchildren every chance she gets. A proud Texas native, she has been with Burning Tree since 2009.
Kristie Mays

Kristie Mays

Finance Assistant

Kristie Mays serves as Financial Assistance Coordinator for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for a host of duties to include payroll and client billing, Kristie boasts a 25-year background in the financial services industry. Utilizing clear communication to assist the team mission of excellence, Kristie demonstrates her commitment to Burning Tree’s fiscal viability by the method of accurate accounting and financial modeling. Happily married for 26-years, Kristy has 3 beautiful children, a long-haired dachshund, cocker spaniel, and a 1-year-old terrier. She is a proud Texas native.


Cody Odom

Director of Finance
Cody Odom serves as Director of Finance for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for managing the accounting and finance departments, Cody’s overarching mission is to ensure that all of our families and clients continue to receive ethical, affordable treatment. Holding a Bachelor of Business Administration from Texas State University, Cody will be completing his Masters in Accounting during the summer of 2022. A Texas native, Cody is a sober softball enthusiast, the parent of two adorable cats, and is engaged to be married in May of 2022. He became sober in 2015.
Shelia Sirls

Shelia Sirls

Client Care Manager

Shelia Sirls serves as Client Care Manager for Burning Tree Ranch. With a 30-year background in behavioral health, Sheila assists our clients in developing the needed life skills to support a full life in recovery. Blending kindness with practicality, Shelia demonstrates the virtues of personal responsibility by helping our clients coordinate their chores, weekly food shopping, supplies inventory, and menu planning. Known across the entire United States for her country fried chicken, Sheila joined Burning Tree Ranch in 2006. A native of Kaufman, TX she has two grown children and six beautiful grandchildren.

Keisha Miller

Keisha Miller

Treatment Tech
Keisha Miller serves as Treatment Tech for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for coordinating logistics, client transportation and scheduling, Keisha incorporates kindness and compassion to help facilitate a client’s journey through treatment. As a certified medical assistant, Keisha blends her background in the human services field with Burning Tree’s steadfast commitment to quality of life improvements. “Making a difference in someone’s life gives purpose to my own,” says Keisha. Born and raised in Kaufman, TX, she has been bringing value to the Burning Tree team since 2017.
Leroy Woldridge

Leroy Wooldridge

Director of Maintenance

Leroy Wooldridge serves as the Director of Maintenance for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for maintaining one of the most unique properties in the nation, Leroy manages all aspects of Burning Tree’s two-thousand acre ranch. With a professional background in commercial construction, Leroy employs a broad range of skills in his quest to maintain Burning Tree’s facilities at optimal functionality. Earning “employee of the year” multiple times since 2009, Leroy exhibits Burning Tree’s passion for “creating a life of excellence beyond sobriety.” He and his wife reside in Kaufman, TX, and are the proud parents of three grown children.

Donna Brown

Donna Brown

Operations Assistant
Donna Brown serves as Operations Assistant for Burning Tree Ranch. Dedicated to Burning Tree’s standard of excellence, Donna utilizes her administrative skill set to manage all facets of logistical planning, EMR integration, and internal clinical communications designed to support the health and welfare of every client. Whether scheduling appointments, managing patient records, or coordinating staff, Donna plays a vital role in the delivery of healthcare at Burning Tree Ranch. Originally from Kaufman, TX she counts two children and a beautiful grandchild amongst her growing family.
Shelley Long

Shelley Long

Operations Manager

Shelley Long serves as Operations Manager for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for upholding the core principles of the organization, Shelley utilizes a combination of efficiency and attentiveness to create a safe place for our clients to recover. Shelley has worked for Burning Tree for more than a decade. Shelley’s strengths are strong organization skills, taking initiative, and using her sense of humor in her day-to-day job. Shelley wants to help alcoholics and addicts find their way to a successful sober life. Shelley and her husband have four grown children and two grandkids.

Angie Buja

Angie Buja

Family Program Facilitator
Angie Buja serves as the Family Program Facilitator for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for co-creating Burning Tree’s nationally recognized family program, Angie is a practiced therapist who believes in treating addiction as a family disease, not an individual disease. By helping families navigate through the repeating patterns of relapse, Angie guides families in identifying how they can contribute differently to help achieve better, more meaningful results. Her presentations include humor, education, experiential exercises as well as sharing about her own “growth opportunities”. She also holds the license of supervisor and enjoys working with new clinicians as they pursue their professional development. Angie is happily married with a teenage son. She works and lives in Dallas, TX. and is the co-founder of Sparrow House Counseling.
David Elliot, Founder

David Elliott

Founder & President
David Elliott serves as the Founder and President of Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for architecting the vision of the organization, David’s chief mission is to promote lasting change in the lives of those suffering from chronic relapse. With a hands-on approach, involved presence, and unyielding commitment to excellence, David serves as the heartbeat of our organization’s steadfast commitment to long-term, progress-based treatment. “My favorite part of what we do is to witness the evolution that individuals undergo during the course of treatment at Burning Tree.” An avid dog lover, Mr. Elliott resides in Dallas, TX. He has been sober since 1992.
Dawn Wilson

Dawn WIlson

BS | Director of Transition Services

Dawn Wilson serves as Director of Transition Services for Burning Tree Ranch and has a Bachelor of Science in Speech Language Pathology and Audiology from The University of Texas at Dallas. Responsible for extending Burning Tree’s standard of excellence into the transitional phase of the program, Dawn incorporates accountability, structure, and consistency to help our clients reintegrate into independent living. A weekly participant at Burning Tree’s Master Treatment Planning, Dawn is familiar with every client, from their very first week all the way to graduation. An active participant in the Down Syndrome Community, Dawn fundraises for the Down Syndrome Guild and The Rise School of Dallas, a non-profit that serves children with Down Syndrome. Happily married, she is the loving mother of 6 beautiful children. Dawn has been sober since 2004.

Carey Ferren

Carey Ferren

LCDC, Director of Alumni
Carey Ferren serves as the Alumni Director for Burning Tree Ranch. With fifteen years of service as a Ranch team member, Carey has participated in multiple roles throughout his career ranging from Counselor to Assistant Clinical Director. Today, as Director of Alumni, Carey incorporates his therapeutic background to engage our Alumni in a host of community-based activities designed to inspire a deeper sense of fellowship and connectedness. An alumnus of Burning Tree Ranch himself, Carey became sober in 2004. He is happily married and the proud father of two children ages 18 and 14.
Brook McKenzie, COO

Brook McKenzie

LCDCI, Chief Operating Officer
Brook McKenzie serves as Chief Operating Officer for Burning Tree Programs. Based at the Ranch facility in Kaufman, TX, Brook plays an everyday part in the lives of our clients and families. His leadership style is informed by his own experience as a Burning Tree Ranch alumnus. With compassion, understanding, and a deep insight into the mind of the chronic relapser, Brook gets to engage in the healing experience of every family that Burning Tree serves. Happily married with two young boys, Brook enjoys fatherhood, sobriety, and all the wonders of living a full life in recovery.
Ashley Martinez, Personal Trainer

Ashley Martinez

Professional Fitness Trainer
Ashley Martinez is a Professional Fitness Trainer at Burning Tree Ranch. With a background working for Camp Gladiator and a certificate in drug and alcohol counseling, Ashley’s goal is to make fitness fun and show her clients that they are capable of overcoming challenges. Ashley works on all types of fitness and sees a direct link between working out and growing stronger physically, mentally, and spiritually. She finds her passion in seeing others overcome their addictions and struggles. Ashley also sings and plays guitar. She has been married 10 years, and enjoys her three beautiful children.
Colleen Quinn, Licensed Counselor Intern

Colleen Quinn

LCDCI, Clinical Team
Colleen Quinn serves as a valuable member of the Burning Tree Ranch clinical team. Utilizing her multi-year training in the behavioral health field, Colleen incorporates practical experience with sound clinical interventions to help facilitate the therapeutic process. Through Colleen’s own recovery, she has learned that once dysfunction has been addressed, lives can drastically change. Colleen’s goal is to help others discover what is not working in their lives and make lasting changes. Sober since 2017, Colleen is an alumnus of Burning Tree Ranch. She lives in Dallas TX where she participates in a vibrant women’s recovery community.
Meghan Bohlman, Clinical Director

Meghan Bohlman

LPC, LCDC, EMDR-Trained, Clinical Director

Meghan Bohlman serves as Clinical Director for Burning Tree Ranch. Holding a Master of Arts in International Disaster Psychology, Meghan’s therapeutic specialties include Trauma, Addiction and Family Dynamics. Her leadership style encourages the team to integrate objectivity with compassion while remaining consistently focused on the mission of offering ethical and authentic clinical interventions to the chronic relapser. A published researcher, Division I athlete, and EMDR-Trained therapist, Meghan embodies the Burning Tree standard of excellence. Happily married, she and her husband reside in Kaufman, TX.

Jesse Earwood, Executive Director

Jesse Earwood

Executive Director
Jesse Earwood serves as Executive Director for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for upholding Burning Tree’s core philosophy of “creating a life of excellence beyond sobriety,” Jesse’s primary function is to help the client community realize their full potential in recovery. His leadership style inspires trust, confidence, and security as our clients navigate through the difficult challenges of becoming fully and permanently sober. As an alumnus of Burning Tree Ranch himself, Jesse utilizes practical, real-life experience to help our clients establish their own “life of excellence beyond sobriety.” A scratch golfer, Jesse lives in Forney, TX with his wife and daughter. He’s been sober since 2010.

Jennifer Boofer

BA | Neurofeedback Technician
Jennifer Boofer serves as Neurofeedback Technician at Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for managing the program’s neurotherapy department, Jennifer works collaboratively with the clinical department to help address a host of brain-based disorders. Known for her charismatic smile and warm, easy-going demeanor, Jennifer holds degrees in both Health Information and Sociology. While the science of biological activity and behavior are her specialty, Jennifer also helps manage Burning Tree’s state licensing and compliance standards. A Texas native, Jennifer joined Burning Tree in 2007. She is happily married with two children and ten beautiful grandchildren.

Terry Busse

MS, LCDC | Counselor
Terry Busse serves as Counselor for Burning Tree Ranch. Holding a Bachelor’s in Criminal Justice and Masters of Science in Industrial-Organizational Psychology, Terry believes that anyone suffering from addiction can make a full and permanent recovery. “The best thing about Burning Tree is that we address co-occurring and addiction disorders simultaneously. This allows us to focus on the big picture and the big result.” says Terry. “Supported by the gift of time, our clients finally get down to root causes and conditions; and because of that, they finally get to heal.” Originally from Minnesota, Terry has been sober in 1977.

Keyana Lee

MS, LCDC | Counselor
Keyna Lee serves as Counselor for Burning Tree Ranch. Informed by her own lived experience in sobriety and supported by her advanced degree in psychology, Keyna offers invaluable insight to the client community as they engage their own opportunity for permanent recovery. Her dedication to the Burning Tree standard of excellence, coupled with a collaborative, teamwork approach help Keyna fulfill her shared goal of “offering quality care that makes good things happen for someone else.” Following a successful career in law enforcement, Keyna joined the Burning Tree team in 2016. She and her family reside in Kaufman, TX.

Drew McLaughlin

LPC-A, LCDC | Counselor
Drew McLaughlin serves as Counselor for Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for helping advance the Burning Tree philosophy of love, service, and excellence, Drew blends clinical expertise with over twelve years of personal recovery experience to assist the client community in realizing their own “life of excellence beyond sobriety.” As a Burning Tree Ranch graduate, Drew feels privileged to get to help others find freedom from the bondage of addiction. A team member since 2013, Drew holds a Masters Degree in Professional Counseling from Amberton University. He is most proud of being a sober father, husband, son and brother.
Dr. Leslie H. Secrest | Medical Director/Psychiatrist

Dr. Leslie H. Secrest

Medical Director, Psychiatrist
Dr. Leslie H. Secrest serves as Medical Director and Psychiatrist at Burning Tree Ranch. Responsible for helping uphold the organization’s commitment to excellence, Dr Secrest believes in a holistic approach to treating mental health and addiction. Specializing in Adult Psychiatry, Addiction Medicine and Psychotherapy, Dr. Secrest is board-certified by both the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology and the American Board of Preventive Medicine / Addiction Medicine. A native of Dallas, TX his numerous awards and recognitions serve as a testament to his 20+ years of service in the field of medicine.
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Peter Piraino

Peter Piraino

LMSW, LCDC | Chief Executive Officer

Peter Piraino, LMSW, serves as Chief Executive Officer for Burning Tree Programs. Responsible for executing the vision of Burning Tree’s philosophy of excellence, Peter’s primary goal is to help as many clients as possible gain access to the treatment they need. A clinician by training, Peter incorporates sound, ethical business practices to help inform the organization of its duties to the greater community. By placing the needs of his staff and company ahead of his own, Peter leads with a team approach that continues to inspire the mission of Burning Tree Programs. A proud father, Peter and his wife count five dogs amongst their family members.