Is The Marchman Act an Involuntary Commitment?

Denial is a common trait among drug/alcohol abusers. It’s simply amazing how many people will justify their substance abuse by stating it is commonplace or it is not causing any harm. A reasonable person knows that is not true, but addicts are seldom reasonable people when in the throes of their addiction. Sometimes, a person’s addictive behavior becomes too destructive.

They are causing great damage to themselves and many times to others as well. We can all hope that when things become too trying, the addiction sufferer will eventually come to terms with their addiction and seek help. With that said, what about the addiction sufferers who don’t get it that their behavior keeps getting worse to the point it is putting their lives in danger? Unfortunately, this exact scenario does occur. In the state of Florida, there is an actual law in place that helps family members deal with these kinds of situations.

This law is on the books as the “Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993” or the Marchman Act for short. To answer the titled question, yes, the Marchman Act is a law that provides family members with a path towards an involuntary commitment process. It’s a necessary law that has been put in place to help protect the addiction sufferer who has lost the capacity to protect themselves from their addiction.

It’s also in place to give family members some type of recourse to use when they want to help a loved one who is suffering. If you live in Florida and have concerns about a family member or close friend who is jammed up in the cycle of addiction, you might benefit from having some knowledge about this law. We would like to provide you some of that information below.

Details About the Marchman Act

Clearly, taking away someone’s rights is something we all want to avoid at all costs. However, we also have an obligation to protect ourselves and the people we love. That’s the reason involuntary commitment acts exist. Of course, the bar has to be set very high before a court is going to rule that any American citizen is going to be denied the right to their freedom. That means you need to be prepared to vigorously defend your attempt to use the Marchman Act if you decide to help a loved one.

We will go directly to this law to define the requirements for involuntary commitment: “There is good faith reason to believe the person is substance abuse impaired and, because of such impairment:

1. Has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use; AND EITHER

2a. Has inflicted, or threatened or attempted to inflict, or unless admitted is likely to inflict, physical harm on himself or herself or another; OR

b. Is in need of substance abuse services and, by reason of substance abuse impairment, his or her judgment has been so impaired that the person is incapable of appreciating his or her need for such services and of making a rational decision in regard thereto; however, mere refusal to receive such services does not constitute evidence of lack of judgment with respect to his or her need for such services.” If you decide to go forward with this process, there are three ways to file.

Direct Filing

You do have the option of filing the proper documents yourself directly with the court of jurisdiction. However, you have an obligation to make sure everything is handled properly. Failure to do so is a proximate cause of denial.

Hire an Attorney

While this is probably the most efficient and effective option, it is also the most expensive option. Your attorney would be able to file the documents in court and advocate for the involuntary commitment on your behalf, but that is where their involvement would stop.

Hire a Professional Comprehensive Intervention Counselor

Such a counselor could help you through the entire process. That would include helping you with the actual filing as well as helping you find a treatment plan that the court would improve and implement under the terms of the Marchman Act. We would like to invite you to contact us at 833-497-3808.

We could be of assistance with answering any of your questions regarding the Marchman Act and providing you access to treatment programs we can customize for your loved one. If you would like more information, we encourage you to contact us at your earliest convenience.