How Does the Marchman Act Affect Options for Loved Ones of Addicts?

Florida’s lawmakers passed the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act in 1993. It is known as the Marchman Act. The law presents both voluntary and involuntary treatment options for addicts, alcoholics and their families. What is most important is how the Marchman Act of 1993 has affected the options for loved ones of addicts.

How the Marchman Act Works

A first important point to appreciate is that the Marchman Act is a civil procedure, not criminal. The addict or alcoholic involved in the process is referred to as the Respondent. As with all civil and criminal court proceedings in the US, they have the right to be present during every step of the process.

A Respondent also has the right to be represented by counsel at each stage of the Marchman Act process. If they cannot afford an attorney, one can be appointed. However, there may be a single initial hearing held without the Respondent even being aware.

This initial hearing involves the petition presented to the court. If the judge deems there to be valid and viable evidence that a Marchman Act petition is warranted, a hearing date will be set and the Respondent notified.

Important Aspects of the Marchman Act Process

There are a few aspects of the Marchman Act process that are the foundation of its success. Beyond the court-based process itself, these are aspects of the process that protect both the integrity of the family unit and the rights of the respondent.

  • Number one is the confidentiality component. Pursuant to Florida Statute 397, every step of the Marchman Act process must be confidential and never a matter for public record.
  • One often frustrating aspect of the process is if the Respondent refuses to authorize the release of information. According to the US Federal Law HIPAA, they are not compelled to sign for the release of their medical or treatment records.
  • If the previous issue arises, the individual or individuals filing the Marchman Act petition may request a court order asking the treatment service provider to testify in support of the petition.
  • When the efforts of your family to encourage a voluntarily receptive response to the petition by the petition are blocked, an Ex-Parte Petition can be filed. If the evidence is profound enough to support such, a request can be made for the court to order the Respondent into treatment involuntarily.
  • Regarding Marchman Act medical records and treatment records, Federal HIPAA Law and the rules of confidentiality are very strict and can be frustrating for the client when the Respondent refuses to sign an “Authorization for Release of Information”.

With a 10-day window that requires a hearing within this period on the Marchman Act petition, loved ones do not have to wait for an extended period to help possibly save someone’s life. The law is designed to save the lives of alcoholics and addicts. It has proved to be of immeasurable value to family members.

The Marchman Act provides a solution to an agonizing problem that prior to 1993 left many at a point of hopelessness. If you feel you have a drug or alcohol problem, ask for help because it’s there. If you’re a family member of an alcoholic or addict in Florida, you also have help. It’s the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, and it’s there to save lives. Call one of our counselors today at 866-441-8725.