The Marchman Act

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Addiction is a disorder of the mind with far-reaching consequences in our families, communities, and society. Substance abuse disorders cause behavior and personality changes, placing obtaining drugs and alcohol above all else, including family, friends, responsibilities, and old passions. When drug abuse or alcoholism interferes with one’s ability to make rational decisions regarding their health and safety, legal measures can be taken to protect both the individual and communities.

In the state of Florida, one such measure is to utilize the Marchman Act.

What Is the Marchman Act?

Chapter 397 of the Florida statutes, put into effect in 1993, is a means of achieving court mandated involuntary rehabilitation for people with addictions. Under this state legislation a judge may legally place your loved one in a substance abuse treatment program.

The Marchman Act is specifically geared toward addressing the substance abuse epidemic and comorbid mental health disorders. By granting health care surrogacy rights to family members in instances where one is deemed incapable of acting in their own self interest, it allows for legal interventions to help prevent tragedy. 

Five involuntary treatment admission options exist under this Florida legislature, three of which do not require court intervention. These include protective custody for the safety of one’s self or others, emergency admissions into psychiatric or medical care, and involuntary assessment alternatives for minors. Electing to take non-court mandated action under the Marchman Act expedites the process, but still carries the legal weight of required completion. 

The two court-mandated options under the Florida’s Marchman Act includes:

  • Involuntary assessment and stabilization
  • Involuntary treatment

How Does the Marchman Act Work?

Florida families who are concerned about the well-being of a loved one can petition the court for mandatory substance abuse treatment. If one chooses a court-ordered option, a judge must agree that the person in question is no longer able to act in their own self-interest. Once the motion for involuntary admission is successful, the party served is required to attend rehabilitation.

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