For those suffering from addiction, and for the families that love them, the holiday season is always a difficult time. Family obligations and responsibilities abound, and often those dealing with substance use disorder find it difficult to handle. Dinners and events are missed or ruined, family members and loved ones are disappointed or angry, feelings of guilt, shame and remorse are all-consuming. Often, the stress of the holiday season is enough to cause those dealing with drug or alcohol issues to completely implode, isolate, or cause massive destruction at what should in other cases be a wonderful time to spend with family and friends. For many in very early recovery, the stress, discomfort or fear can cause a relapse. At many family gatherings, blame is thrown around for past holiday season issues, and those uncomfortable feelings can cause a person in early recovery, without a strong foundation, to search for a substance to alleviate powerful feelings.


Many people in active addiction simply stay away altogether and drown their sorrows in a bottle or go off in a drug-induced rampage. Meanwhile, parents, children, grandparents, and other family members and loved ones yearn for days when their holidays weren’t interrupted by addiction. Or, if the person in active addiction does show up, for families uneducated in addiction or without the necessary support, they can begin to play the blame game, bringing up everything that the person with substance use disorder has done wrong at all the holiday gatherings over the years.


Regardless of the specifics of the situation, there is little doubt that the holiday season, and the undeniable stress that accompanies it, can be difficult for someone dealing with an addiction to deal with, and sometimes even more so, for their family and the people that love them.


Here at Maryland Addiction Recovery Center, we want you to know that we understand what you are dealing with, whether you are a person in active addiction or the family member of someone suffering from drug addiction, alcoholism, substance use disorder, or mental health issues. We know how stressful this time of year can be for everyone. We know everyone just wants a nice, happy time to spend with family. And we know that often when addiction is involved, this is rarely the case. The blowups, the empty chairs at dinner tables, the missing money, the missed events, the crying parents, spouses, and children. The shouting. The uncomfortable silence. We understand. Many of us that work here have been through it on both sides of that proverbial coin, and we are here to help.


We want you to know that we are here. We are here to offer help to those who need it, whatever that may be. If you or a loved one needs treatment? We are here. If you are the loved one of someone in need of help, but they aren’t ready or willing to engage in necessary care, we are still here to talk with you. We are here to offer suggestions and support to the family members and loved ones. We are here to offer referrals to community support systems, to therapy and treatment options, to support groups, even to individuals outside of the field who have dealt with these issues and are only happy to help other family members going through it. Our admissions staff is available during the holiday season to pick up the phone and talk with you. And our Community Relations Specialists Mallorie Schwartzman and Ryan Burton, both employees of MARC but also people in long-term recovery, are here for you, ready, willing and able to talk with you or meet with you to see how we can help.


Discussing their own personal experience during the holiday season, Mallorie and Ryan had these thoughts:


Mallorie Schwartzman, MARC Community Relations Specialist

“As the holidays approach and talk around gratitude picks up in our daily lives and on social media outlets, I can’t help but to think of those who haven’t had that profound shift in their hearts. Those who still live in the darkness and need our support. I am one of the fortunate ones. I get to practice gratitude on daily basis as a result of my own path in long term recovery. It’s in the everyday things, the laughter of my children and husband, the clean water and fresh food, a warm home, a job I get to have, a phone that rings and people who want me to be around. I remember the hopelessness and the isolation especially around the holidays. Surrounded by those I loved most and felt like an imposter. Or in some cases, asked to simply not come- or just never showed. The damage of the empty seat at the dinner table was wasted on me then. It is important that amongst the hustle of the holiday season those still struggling know we are here. It is never a bad time or a wrong time to reach out and ask for help. Freedom from the darkness is available to us all.”


Ryan Burton, MARC Community Relations Specialist

“For me, the holidays have always been significant. When I was in active addiction and dealing with alcoholism, I would always choose drinking over family. Even though I didn’t want to and always felt guilt and shame over my behaviors, I would choose drinking. Everything came second to alcohol. It was very important to me to be around family during the holidays, but often I fell short. Now, as a person in long-term recovery, I find that it is vital for me to be present during these holidays. When I found sobriety, I received the wonderful gift of being able to be there for the people that loved me the most and that I loved the most. I found the ability to show up, to be a part of, and to make sure that I no longer disappointed anyone during a time of year that is focused on family. That was one of the major gifts that I got back when I stopped drinking. I know the toll that alcohol and drugs took on my life and the life of my family, and now I’m able to be present and a part of the family, rather than apart from them. That is a gift that everyone deserves, all year long but especially during the holiday season. And I want everyone that is currently suffering from drug or alcohol addiction, the people that are hurting, and the families that are hurting, to also experience that gift. We are here for you if you need help.”


Both Mallorie and Ryan have been through it and are available to help in any possible way during what can be a very difficult holiday season for those individuals and families impacted by addiction. And MARC is here to help however we may be able, to help guide or support you and your family to finding that gift of joy, happiness, and recovery. You deserve it, your family deserves it, and it is absolutely available to you or your loved one.


To reach Mallorie Schwartzman, please call (443) 478-6966 or email


To reach Ryan Burton, please call (443) 391-2258 or email


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorder issues, please give us a call. Maryland Addiction Recovery Center offers the most comprehensive dual diagnosis addiction treatment in the Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or your loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (410) 773-0500 or email our team at For more information on all of our drug addiction, alcohol addiction and co-occurring disorder services and recovery resources, please visit our web site at