There is a law known as the Marchman Act that was passed in 1993 in the State of Florida. It allows a person to be involuntarily committed and taken in for an assessment or treatment against their will if they suffer from substance abuse. As a result of the law, family members may be able to request a court evaluation for their loved one who is suffering from a substance use disorder without their consent.
Still, it is against the law to force an adult to undergo medical treatment, including substance abuse treatment. This is not the case with the Marchman Act. However, the Marchman Act is only enforceable in Florida, but similar laws exist in many states.
Among people aged 12 or older in 2020, over 160 million people used alcohol or an illicit drug in the past month. Roughly 130 million people drank alcohol, and 38.0 million used an illicit drug. (SAMHSA)
What is Involuntary Commitment?
If a person poses a danger to himself or herself or others, a court can order them to be committed to a mental hospital under certain circumstances. Most states allow commitment to public and private mental hospitals as voluntary or under involuntary commitment orders. A legal framework governs the process by which mentally ill people can be required, willing or not, to receive treatment.
Involuntary commitment laws and rules are subject to the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees the right to be free from government restraints and unfairly confined. All fifty states practice involuntary commitment when the situation is warranted.
Who Has the Right to Force Someone into Treatment?
In Florida, the process for admitting a family member or committing to a substance abuse treatment center requires detailed steps. The first and most crucial step is that three people must come forward to file the motion for the act to begin.
It requires the people in the case of a person who has no family; therefore, the police, a community center, or someone who knows the individual can start the process of involuntary commitment.
A spouse, a blood relative, or any three people who have direct knowledge of a person’s substance abuse. There are many people who don’t have any family at all, so the law allows for three people who have independent knowledge. (Florida Dept Health)
Does Treatment Help When It is Not Desired?
Forcing anyone to do anything is usually not going to succeed. However, countless people are required by the court system to attend treatment programs, and some succeed and find treatment to help them, and they quit using substances. Still, the process of the Marchman act is much more invasive.
A person will not be ordered to go to rehab but taken in restraints or otherwise. Whether addiction treatment will help someone if committed against their will depends on the person. Recovery from drugs and alcohol is about a person’s desire; some people never stop, and others thought they would never stop but do.
What Do the Addiction Experts Say?
An uncomfortable and volatile intervention can worsen the person’s addiction without the assistance of an addiction specialist or interventionist, according to the Mayo Clinic.
An intervention is a carefully planned process that may be done by family and friends, in consultation with a doctor or professional such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor or directed by a professional interventionist. A successful intervention must be planned carefully to work as intended. A poorly planned intervention can worsen the situation — your loved one may feel attacked and become isolated or more resistant to treatment. Consulting an addiction professional, such as a licensed alcohol and drug counselor, a social worker, a psychologist, a psychiatrist, or an interventionist, can help you organize an effective intervention. (Mayo Clinic)
Guidelines for When the Marchman Act is Recommended
Involuntary commitment can be challenging to determine when it’s time. Several requirements must be met for an individual to qualify for The Marchman Act. and these usually include the following elements and behaviors:
- Being a danger to themselves or others
- Unable to make healthy decisions due to substance abuse
- Serious medical issues because of substance abuse
- Job loss, homelessness, and legal crimes because of substance abuse
- History of overdose and driving under the influence
- Suicide attempts or threats as a result of their drug abuse
Who Can Help My Loved One Right Now?
Addicts can often be persuaded to go to rehab by their loved ones, but this does not always work. The experts available to speak to your loved one have years of experience talking to them about their condition.
There is no other time better than now to talk to our professionals about who should help your loved one receive the treatment they need to save their lives. We provide 24-hour phone communication, and our staff will immediately place your loved one into a rehab program the same day.
Medically Reviewed: October 25, 2022
All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.