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Where Did The Marchman Act Come From?

Understanding The Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993

One of the things you may have stumbled into on Reco Intensive’s site is a few references to our Marchman Act services. But what exactly is the Marchman Act, where does it come from, and what does it have to do with substance abuse treatment?

To start with: the Marchman Act is a Florida law allowing for the involuntary assessment, and, potentially, involuntary treatment of someone who is a danger to themselves or others due to their substance abuse or who cannot exercise his or her judgment to make a rational decision about his or her need for addiction treatment.

Though it may sound harsh, this law is just one of many involuntary commitment laws enacted in America, with a full forty six states having their own version of such a law. In fact, the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993 (more commonly referred to as simply the Marchman Act) is a successor to two earlier Florida statutes that separately addressed involuntary commitment for substance abuse impairment and for alcohol impairment.

Since alcohol and other drug abuse tends to co occur, it was more simple to address the two under one law, the Marchman Act was enacted, and remains in use to this day. It’s also worth nothing that the Marchman Act should not be confused with the Baker Act, a similar law that covers involuntary commitment for those who are lacking in judgement and self control due to a mental illness rather than a drug dependency.

Though there are also situations where a Marchman Act order and a Baker Act court order could both be applicable due to the substantial overlap between substance use and mental illness, only a law enforcement officer or other medical service provider can request treatment under the Baker Act.

By putting a person who cannot control their substance use in a safe environment and giving them tools with which they can conquer that substance use, the Marchman Act can be literally life-saving.

What To Expect If You Request Involuntary Treatment Using The Marchman Act

If you believe that the Marchman Act may be applicable to somebody in your life whose substance abuse impairment is interfering with their ability to make rational decisions and who refuses to submit to a voluntary assessment regarding their need for care, you can begin the Marchman Act process by filing a petition for involuntary assessment at your local county courthouse.

A petition for involuntary assessment can be filed by a first degree relative, such as by children, spouses, parents, or a legal guardian. A parent may also be able to request an alternative involuntary assessment for minor children who exhibit a need for involuntary treatment, a slightly different process than Marchman Act court involved admissions.

This is because children under eighteen are still considered to incapable of medical consent in most situations even besides their potential incapacitation by substance use. The Marchman Act can also be filed by three adults who are unrelated to the Marchman Act petition’s subject person and have no specific relationship to the person but who do have personal knowledge of the person’s substance use that they are willing to testify to.

Aside from by families and loved ones, a Marchman Act petition can also be filed by a law enforcement officer, if that law enforcement officer observes that the person is incapable of making sound decisions and clearly lacking in self control due to their substance abuse in a public place.

Finally, a Marchman Act petition can also be initiated by a medical professional who has relevant knowledge of the person’s need for substance abuse services, such as a psychologist, psychiatrist, or other private practitioner or licensed service provider.

This petition for involuntary assessment will have to include specific information about the person’s recent behavior that indicates their incapacitation or their risk to themselves or others— and mere refusal to submit to addiction treatment does not in itself indicate a dangerous lack of judgement.

Within ten days of when this petition is filed, a hearing for involuntary assessment must take place, unless the judge determines that the situation warrants an ex parte order, which can be carried out without a hearing.

If the hearing determines that the respondent meets appropriate criteria, the must then undergo a substance abuse assessment at the nearest Marchman Act receiving treatment facility.

The treatment facility will have seventy two hours to assess the patient. If the treatment facility determines that the standards for involuntary admission are not met, the person will then be free to go, unless they have become willing to agree to voluntary admission in the meantime.

If the person meets the criteria for involuntary admission, another hearing will then commence once the facility files a petition for involuntary commitment for substance abuse services. This second petition must be filed by the facility administrator rather than the filers of the initial Marchman Act petition, and the hearing should take place only up to five days after this second petition is filed.

The service provider who conducted the assessment must deliver relevant testimony at the hearing explaining why court ordered treatment for substance abuse is necessary, as well as why no less restrictive option for treatment would be appropriate.

It is only then that court orders may be placed for an involuntary admission for addiction services, either at the treatment facility that carried out the initial assessment or at another facility that the court determines is better able to provide for the person’s needs.

The court may order treatment that is either inpatient or outpatient, though such treatment is more often inpatient due to the high need for care usually necessary in court involved admissions. However, certain facilities do provide such services on an outpatient basis, especially to a person who has an unusually supportive family environment.

The treatment order can be valid for up to ninety days, with the option of an additional ninety day extension if an additional petition is filed. For more information on involuntary commitment and court involved admissions for substance abuse assessment and treatment, you can also peruse these resources from the Florida Department of Children and Families.

Substance Abuse Treatment And Marchman Act Services At Reco Intensive

Reco Intensive is a South Florida treatment facility with the capacity to receive patients who come our way due to court involved admissions, such as those involving the Marchman Act. Families who are considering filing a Marchman Act petition and would like to have someone guide them through the process have the option of hiring an attorney, but that tends to be quite expensive, which may be prohibitive for many concerned families.

Thus, we are happy to offer another quality option in the form of our intervention services, which can help guide families through the process of obtaining involuntary treatment if an initial, less extreme intervention is unsuccessful.

To learn more about such services and about why Reco Intensive is one of the best treatment facilities for those struggling with substance abuse, feel free to call us anytime at 844.955.3042 or to contact us online anytime here.



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