Far too many people know how painful it is to watch a loved one struggle with an addiction to drugs or alcohol. For some friends and family members, the pain is very personal because they have suffered collateral damage at the hands of their loved one’s addiction. The problem is it’s difficult for family members to exert any influence over a loved one who is unwilling to admit they are dealing with the cycle of addiction.
Family members can only hope there will come a time when their addicted loved one comes to the realization there’s a problem. At that point, there’s hope the addiction sufferer will finally reach out for help. Short of that happening, the only other recourse family and friends might have is an intervention. Sometimes interventions work and sometimes they don’t. If an intervention fails, loved ones don’t have the option of putting a gun to their addicted loved one’s head to drag them into rehab.
With all that said, there is a law in Florida that empowers family members to force a loved one into rehab if they can establish the loved one’s addiction makes the loved one danger to themselves or to others. The name of that law is the “Marchman Act.” FYI: The Marchman Act is officially listed as the “Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993”.
At this point, we would like to engage in further discussion about the Marchman Act and how it works.
Using the Marchman Act to Get a Loved One Into Rehab
Before we begin this discussion, it seems prudent to point out something that should be evident. Contrary to some people’s beliefs, using the Matchman to have a loved one involuntarily placed in an addiction treatment facility is not an adversarial action. In many cases, it is being done out of legitimate love and concern for the addicted family member.
Think about it for a moment. An individual is trying to survive life caught up in a substantial addiction to drugs or alcohol. Their life is crumbling before their very eyes. Maybe they are homeless or dealing with financial, health and relationship problems. They won’t seek help because they either don’t want help, don’t believe they have an addiction or have given up hope. Left to their own devices, there’s real potential these kinds of addiction sufferers are headed down the road towards prison, insanity or even death. What kind of a relative or friend would just stand by and let that happen?
The Marchman Act exists for this very reason. It’s not a blanket option for family members to exercise in order to remove an unwanted nuisance from their own lives. Like any other restrictive law on the books, a family member has to show just cause that their addicted loved one poses a real danger to themselves or others. Making that claim has to be adjudicated in a court of law.
Reasons Marchman Act Can Be Exercised
Remember, a family member has to show just cause as to why their loved one should be involuntarily subjected to addiction treatment. The first qualification is the addiction sufferer must show a high level of impairment whether sober or not. If they are impaired, it becomes reasonable to assume they don’t have the capacity for taking proper care of themselves or making good judgments. They have basically lost the ability to control their lives.
The other reason why the courts might exercise the Marchman act is if the family member can show that their loved one has made threats or is a danger to others. Under the influence of a substance, any signs of aggression should be given extra scrutiny.
If a family member makes the decision to attempt to have the courts invoke the Marchman Act on their loved one, there’s a very specific process the family member must follow. Here are the steps in order:
- Petition the court with a sworn affidavit
- A court hearing is held for involuntary assessment
- The defendant is held for up to five days for medical and mental health evaluation
- If found impaired, the court will issue order for involuntary treatment of up to 60 days
- If the defendant refuses, they are held in civil contempt of court
If you have concerns about the welfare of an addicted loved one living in Florida, we would like to offer our addiction treatment services. If you need help with the process, you can contact us at 800-737-0933.