Understanding the Marchman Act

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Riverside Recovery of Tampa

If you or a loved one is struggling with thoughts of suicide, PLEASE call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

The Marchman Act is a Florida law that allows for addicts to be involuntarily stabilized and treated if they are unable or unwilling to seek out treatment themselves. Addicts’ loved ones might find that they need to pursue action under this law if they are concerned for their safety and well-being, and if they are refusing to get the help they need. In order to help ourselves prepare for situations such as these, it is important to understand this law, and if we’re already grappling with this very difficult situation, knowing more about the law can help us decide if we need to pursue action.

There are a few criteria required for the Marchman Act to be put into effect. For one, the person in question has to be impaired by an addictive substance such as alcohol or drugs. This can make it difficult for family members and friends of addicts who are highly functioning in their addictions, because if they aren’t impaired if they are acting normally for the most part or coping with their regular routines normally, the Act may not be able to be enacted. Many of us struggling with addiction are still functional in our daily lives, and we often don’t present outward signs of distress or dysfunction. Under the Act, the patient must visibly have lost self-control and the ability to function.

Similarly, patients must show tangible signs that they pose an actual threat to themselves or others. They may have already physically harmed themselves, loved ones, acquaintances or even strangers. They might be threatening to hurt themselves or to end their lives. They may have attempted suicide. They might be acting erratic and volatile. Their mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, panic attacks, and suicidal thoughts might be worsening. Very often they won’t admit that they are in danger or that they are endangering others. They don’t always realize the full extent of their problems, especially when they’re still inebriated and impaired. As we know, our addictions can impair our judgment, cloud our thinking and alter our decision-making abilities. When addicts are unable to keep themselves safe, or when they are presenting signs of potentially harming themselves or others, the Marchman Act can be enacted.

Many addicts will voluntarily agree to professional treatment, but when they don’t, that is when the Marchman Act would take effect, and court-ordered treatment might be mandated.

These kinds of circumstances are difficult, to say the least, and can cause everyone involved considerable pain. To help ourselves navigate these challenges, it can help immeasurably to be as well-informed as possible.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction, you are not alone. Reach out for support. The community of Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Call (800) 871-5440 today.

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