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The Marchman Act: Court-Ordered Rehab?

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If you ever wished for a legal way to somehow lock your loved one up in rehab, the state of Florida just may have the statute to make your wish come true! I recently suggested the concept of "Laying down the law with love," rather than acting out of pure emotion when trying to deal with a loved one battling an addiction. One of the most powerful tools to actually help accomplish that goal just might be the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, or more commonly referred to as the Marchman Act.

The Marchman Act essentially provides for emergency assistance and temporary detention for individuals requiring substance abuse evaluation and treatment in the state of Florida. When properly applied to a well-balanced, long-term plan, the Marchman Act has the potential to help an individual reach a healthy bottom by putting into place a court-ordered framework to help support their recovery.

The Marchman Act is initiated by filing a petition for involuntary assessment in the county court where the impaired individual resides. The petition must be filed in good faith by a person recognized by the court to do so. The petitioner must have reason to believe, and/or direct knowledge that an individual has lost the power of self-control with regard to substance abuse and that there exists the likelihood that the individual has the potential to inflict harm upon themselves or others unless they get help. Furthermore, it must also be demonstrated that the impaired individual is without the capacity to make rational decisions with regard to appreciating the need for treatment.

Once all relevant testimony has been heard by the court, it may enter an order for involuntary assessment to assess and stabilize the impaired individual for a period not to exceed five days. The findings of that assessment are then reviewed with the court which may then enter an order for involuntary treatment for a period not to exceed 60 days. Keeping those proceedings in mind, in the hands of a well-trained professional interventionist, working with the support of likeminded professionals within the legal community, the Marchman Act can be introduced by the friends and family of the impaired individual as a healthy boundary to actually help them break through their own level of resistance.

But before you go ahead and book your brother's flight to Miami with the intention of luring him into some kind of therapeutic beachfront intervention trap, you should definitely consult with a trained professional to explore. The Marchman Act and how it can work in your particular situation. As with any court-related matter, it often boils down to what you can prove, rather than what you know. Even though you may have seen your brother get as high as a kite in college, or fall flat on his face at the family reunion, when he gets to court, he may appear as cool as a cucumber and as clean cut as Clooney.