One of the worst aspects of addiction is how powerless family and friends feel and, in many cases, actually are. Although an intervention is often their best chance at getting help for the addict, ultimately, if the addict refuses to enter treatment, relatives and friends must accept their decision and move on with their own lives (Read How to Forgive an Addict). Most states give alcoholics and addicts the legal option of making poor, unhealthy choices unless the addict indicates that they have plans to harm themselves or others. Even then, involuntary detention can usually only occur after requested by a physician or law enforcement officials. However, if you are a resident of the state of Florida and are concerned about the drug or alcohol abuse of someone in your circle, you may have another option available to you.

What is a Marchman Act?

A Marchman Act - a Florida state statute - can be used to help someone who is addicted to one or more substances if the person who applies for it has firsthand knowledge that (a) the addict has already or has plans to do harm to another person and/or to themselves or (b) because of substance abuse, the person does not have insight into the severity of their problem. If approved by the court, the person will be detained, evaluated for substance abuse, and treated if applicable.

Who can submit a petition for an involuntary Marchman Act?

In addition to the police, other people who can submit a Marchman Act include spouses, relatives, guardians, the addict's physician, or three adults not part of the previous categories who are aware of and can testify to someone's problems with one or more substances.

If the person wants to go to treatment, why would they need to file for a voluntary Marchman Act?

This option primarily exists for minors who desire to begin treatment without the expressed consent of their parents or guardians (Read Teen Addiction and Rehab).

How long will it last?

The duration of an involuntary Marchman Act cannot be longer than five days.

What do I need to do to submit it?

To begin the process, first make sure that your preferred rehab facility has space available for the person if everything goes through successfully; it is your responsibility to have a treatment option lined up. After you have done so, go to your local Clerk's Office with identification that has your date of birth and social security number on it. You should also be prepared to provide an address, intersection, or other information that can help law enforcement locate the person. A review of the petition will be conducted and a hearing will be held if the individual in question elects to retain an attorney; this should occur within 10 days of the date of filing. Thereafter, the court either will or will not authorize assessment and stabilization that may lead to treatment.