This is a difficult realization to process and has likely left you reeling. Perhaps you have spent months or years avoiding it, making excuses and putting treatment off for another day. Maybe you have known and have tried to overcome it before without success and have given up hope that a treatment program will ever work. You are feeling lost and unsure of your options — you want to get sober and get your life back but taking the first step toward recovery seems overwhelming.

As a member of the addiction treatment team at Burning Tree Ranch for over seven years now, I have discovered that we can recognize a “Burning Tree client” from a mile away. While we do have formal clinical criteria for our clientele, the truth is that more often than not our gut will sound the alarm that an individual is a perfect fit for Burning Tree. A five-minute phone call with a family member can usually give us all the information we need to spot this fit for Burning Tree.  This may not sound especially scientific or clinical, but what I can tell you, is that we know the character traits of the relapser. And we know how to get them well.


One tell-tale sign of our clients is they are often off the charts with their IQ and also have an incredible amount of wit, quick thinking, survival skills and a mastery of the English language. However, their intelligence has become a liability as they have used it to disarm loved ones, treatment providers, and even 12-step sponsors. They are masters at dishonesty, justification, persuasion, providing excuses, telling stories, and disarming people. They leave you wondering if you are the crazy one.

The tragic part is that they are so delusional and truly believe they know what’s best for them. Believing they are right and trusting in their own reasoning, to the point of total destruction. Because of their intelligence, efforts at running the show have unfortunately worked a lot of the time, which perpetuates a cycle of self-reliance. They may have been to 22 treatment centers and been unable to stay sober, but are still invested in calling the shots even at the 23rd treatment – where they will go, how they will go, when they will go, how long they will go. They have adopted the “Cafeteria-Style” approach to recovery and treatment, strategically selecting and deciding what they are willing to do and not willing to do.

Call us


The Burning Tree client more times than not is an emotional terrorist and vampire sucking the life out of their loved ones and they hold them emotionally hostage. In relationships, these clients use the “I hate you, don’t leave” approach, which leaves loved ones terrified, confused and all used up. Loved ones end up walking on eggshells to avoid setting them off into a drug relapse.

In addition, their self-centeredness is at such an extreme, they literally take everything personally. This is evident with clients even in treatment with their counselor – if their counselor doesn’t show up for work because they woke up sick, the client will often take it personally and feel abandoned, victimized, guilty, and spend all day wondering why their counselor “left them.” Even just rescheduling an individual counseling session to a different time can ignite all kinds of upset with a Burning Tree client.


Third, Burning Tree clients are incredibly lovable.  They are magnetic, charming, adorable and clever. Their personalities can actually be quite intoxicating. We hear stories during treatment about our clients excelling in academics, sports, fine arts, social skills, and their career, only to eventually waste all this talent through years of addiction. These individuals gained their ability to survive by using a natural charm to avoid consequences.  In fact, this unique talent for manipulation is many times why the client has survived so long– a lot of individuals would be dead by the time their loved ones call us without this talent.  By using their magnetic personality, they acquired the art of survival, in and out of treatment. They know what you want to hear and exactly how to pull your heart strings. They have been able to get around the rules and the consequences in all areas of life– family, school, work, the legal system, etc. I cannot begin to tell you how many clients I have worked with that had developed a “special” relationship with the probation officer to a point where the probation officer has actually become part of their enabling system.

Here’s the good news . . . The Burning Tree staff is uniquely equipped to address these patterns and personalities in chronic relapsers. As a staff, we are able to see the clients through the attempts at manipulation, emotional terrorism and using their intellect as a weapon. We get to stay one step ahead of them, know their idiosyncrasy, and help them find permanent recovery. To learn more don’t hesitate to reach out to us today!

There Is No Better Time to Reach Out For Help

If you or someone close to you is struggling with addiction and is seeking a recovery experience like the one we offer here, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. Our Austin-area residential facility is accepting clients and we are always here to speak with you about the admissions process. Call us at (877) 389-0500 or fill out our online form now to get started.

Call us