Understanding the Marchman Act

The Marchman Act is a law under the Florida Statute that allows for individuals struggling with substance abuse to receive an involuntary assessment and be treated if they are unable or unwilling to seek out voluntary admission to a treatment facility. Unlike the Baker Act, the Marchman act enables family members to seek help for their loved one who is unwilling to receive treatment for their substance abuse. Family members might find that they need to petition this law if they are concerned for their loved one’s 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.

The Criteria for Effecting a Marchman Act in Florida

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 addicted individuals who are highly functioning in their addictions. If they aren’t seemingly impaired, if they are acting normally for the most part, or coping with their regular routines, the act may not be able to be enacted. 

Many of those struggling with addiction are still functional in their daily lives, and often don’t present outward signs of distress or dysfunction. 

Under the Marchman Act, the patient must visibly have lost self-control with substance use and the ability to function.

There Must be Proof of an Actual Threat to Themselves or Others to Enact the Marchman Act

In addition to clear signs of substance abuse interfering in daily life, individuals 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, addictions can impair our judgment, cloud thinking, and alter someone’s decision-making abilities. When individuals are unable to keep themselves safe, or when they are presenting signs of potentially harming themselves or others, the Marchman Act can be enacted.

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How Long Does the Involuntary Assessment Take?

The law allows for up to 5 days in which to complete a court-ordered assessment. During that time, the facility may ask the judge for an extension, release the client if they so choose, or file with courts asking them to order treatment services.

How Long Can Someone Be Court Ordered Into Substance Abuse Treatment?

After the evaluation, the facility must decide whether to discharge and release the client or file a request with the court for admission of involuntary treatment or change their status to voluntary. The judge may order up to 60 days of court-ordered services (up to 90 days in some counties with renewals every 90 days if needed).

The Marchman Act Steps in When Voluntary Treatment is Not an Option

Many people suffering from addiction will voluntarily agree to professional treatment, but when they don’t, that is when the Marchman Act would take effect. An involuntary assessment and involuntary treatment might be mandated.

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

When aiding a loved one with a substance use disorder, it is important to keep in mind that a petition for an involuntary commitment should always be a last resort. If you feel your loved one is in need of help, consider contacting a physician or an addiction treatment specialist. You can also consult someone trained specifically for this task such as intervention specialists who are specially trained and qualified professionals when intervening on behalf of other people’s needs. If you’ve tried everything but are still unable to get your loved one into treatment, the Marchman Act may be the best solution for involuntary admission.

If you or your loved one is struggling with addiction and in need of substance abuse treatment, you are not alone. Reach out for support. Riverside Recovery has personal experience with addiction and recovery, and we’re here to help you reclaim the life you love. Contact our admissions team today. 

  • https://www.myflfamilies.com/sites/default/files/2022-11/marchmanacthand03p.pdf