How Do I Know My Loved One Is Suffering From Addiction?
If you are interested in learning about The Marchman Act, you should first understand addiction. Addiction is a disease, unlike many think, and it requires proper treatment. It is not a choice, and it is not the same as casual drinking. A person might not be aware that they suffer from addiction. But the matter of the fact is that addiction can still become dangerous for them – and others around them. Some of the red flags are:
- Extreme mood swings or emotional stability
- Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
- Less interest in activities or people they once enjoyed
- Smelling of smoke and/or alcohol (either on their breath or clothes)
- Lack of personal hygiene or overall diminished personal appearance
- Secretive behavior or being more introverted than they tend to be
- Stashing alcohol or drugs in unusual places (and unusual amounts)
- Significant changes in their eating and/or sleeping habits (either too much or too little)
- Manipulative behavior and/or lying (especially regarding substance abuse)
- Getting into legal, financial, or professional trouble because of substance abuse
Checking off one or two boxes might not be a sign that there’s anything wrong. But multiple and recurrent behaviors might mean that they could be in trouble. Especially if they constantly engage in risky behavior due to substance use. If you think they might be in danger, then it might be time to use The Marchman Act.
What Is “The Marchman Act”? How Can It Help Someone Who is Addicted?
The Marchman Act, known formally as the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, was put into law in Florida in an effort to help those who are abusing alcohol or illegal drugs. Through the Marchman Act, you may be able to help get your loved one in rehab and on the road to complete recovery.
Not everyone knows that the Marchman Act allows for both voluntary and involuntary assessment and stabilization of people using drugs or alcohol. However, the process of obtaining help will differ depending on whether: you’re seeking help on behalf of someone who you believe has completely lost control of their substance abuse; or if you want to encourage them to seek out help on their own.
If your loved one is so impaired that they cannot seek treatment, you can file a petition for involuntary assessment with the Clerk of Court. While this is often a step in the right direction, the process to get them into rehab may take a fair amount of time. If you choose to file a petition for involuntary assessment, the process might go as follows:
- You and the person that you are concerned about will be summoned for a hearing.
- At the hearing, the court will determine whether an order for involuntary assessment will be necessary.
- If the order is issued, you can either arrange for your loved one to be taken to a private facility, or have the state choose a state-sponsored facility for stabilization and treatment.
- The facility will take care of them for no more than five days.
- After this, the facility will send an assessment to the court, and from there, the court may or may not decide to file an order for involuntary treatment.
- Should the court decide that treatment is needed, the standard procedure is to request a 90-day treatment program
- If by the end of the program the treatment team advises that the subject should stay for longer, it is possible to extend the treatment period to as many as 90 additional days
It is also possible to file for an emergency order in extreme cases. For these individuals, a hearing might be skipped to speed things along. A judge might actually rule that themselves during hearings in what is called an Ex Parte order. If they do so, law enforcement will take the potential patient to the designated facility if they are impaired.
A recent change to the law made it easier for the filing to take place. Before, it would require a blood relative or three responsible adults to file it. Now, thanks to this modification, a single person might be able to do, as long as they have first-hand knowledge of the addiction.
Generally speaking, the method mentioned above is used for those who truly believe their loved one has become temporarily mentally unable due to substance use. If you are concerned about a loved one but think they’re capable of making their own decisions, it may be wise to speak with them first.
Dual Diagnosis Under “The Marchman Act” and “The Baker Act”
People suffering from dual diagnosis are also included in the Marchman Act. Dual diagnosis is a condition where a person suffers from both a psychiatric and a substance abuse disorder. About 60% of addicts in the U.S. report having also been diagnosed with a mental illness. So these cases are not rare, but treatment is a little different in this case.
Dual-diagnosis patients must address both disorders separately. That means an assessment for addiction might not refer to or help treat the mental disorder. Since the two disorders feed off of each other, treatment is not fully efficient if there is not proper treatment for both.
The main issue is that many counties might not offer programs for co-occurring disorders. While they are protected under The Marchman Act, getting treatment for dual-diagnosis patients might be harder since the focus is on the substance abuse disorder.
However, there is a legal solution to mental disorders as well. The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, commonly referred to as The Baker Act, works in a similar way to The Marchman Act, but for mental illnesses. It allows for involuntary examination and institutionalization of someone suspected of suffering from a mental disorder.
The criteria for it is a bit more specific, too. People can only be Baker Acted should they resist voluntary examination or if they are unable to determine if it is necessary. But the decisive factor is that there is reason to believe they could cause bodily harm upon others on themselves. Unless the individual is a threat in that sense, they cannot be Baker Acted. It is a bit harder to apply it than the Marchman Act, but it can be a viable option for many.
What Should I Do If I Feel My Loved One Needs Help?
Before even mentioning the Marchman Act, you need to speak to them objectively about the problem. That can be done either in a direct conversation or even in an intervention setting. No matter which you choose, there are some things you should keep in mind and/or do to make it more productive:
- Write down everything you might want to say before you talk to them, to make sure you address all your concerns and that you have the right tone
- Talk to your family, relatives, and/or mutual friends about what they think needs to be said (maybe even invite them if you choose to have an intervention)
- Choose a time when you will not be interrupted, and you do not have to worry about ending the conversation at a certain time
- Make sure that they will be sober and paying attention when you talk, and there are no distractions around
- When you are talking, you should be objective with them and make yourself clear – even as you describe how you feel
- You can try to describe how their addiction affects you and even them, as addicts often are not aware of that
- Even if they start yelling or get angry, you should always try to keep your cool, and not lose your temper – this might even help them calm down
- Define what you expect or hope that they will do, maybe even setting milestones (i.e. start treatment, join a support group, etc.)
- Follow up and/or make sure they are actually keeping to their goals and not breaking any promises (you might want help from family members or friends for this as well)
If you do mention the Marchman Act, be sure that you clarify that you are encouraging your loved one to seek voluntary treatment first. Threatening to force them into treatment against their will can likely do more harm than good. Ideally, they would need to understand why they need help and want it themselves in order to get better. The Marchman Act should be a last resort to someone who has become a menace to themselves and those around.
But it is important that you provide them the tools to get help instead of enabling them. Enabling means you are covering for them, making up excuses for their behavior, or even taking on their responsibilities – and that includes getting treatment. While you can help them, they should be the ones to take that step, do their research, and follow through on their word.
By talking to them directly, you are showing them the consequences of their actions. That is something they wouldn’t be aware of if they’ve been shielded from them by an enabler. Enabling is usually done with the best of intentions by someone who is trying to be understanding. But by letting them prolong the substance abuse, you’re just hurting them more. Taking action, intervening, facing them, and telling them that they need help will be much better in the long run.
How Does Treatment Under “The Marchman Act” Work?
Most Marchman Act admissions begin with an initial assessment and stabilization phase. This is when the facility attempts to determine the severity of the dependency and start a detoxification process. In the case of involuntary admission, the court will read the facility’s report and decide whether involuntary treatment (admission to a drug rehab) is needed.
If your loved one seeks treatment voluntarily, most facilities will follow similar steps. Upon admission, the patient will then be assessed, detoxed if needed, and stabilized. Most facilities taking involuntary admissions will talk to the patient about their options. Some facilities offer a detox-only option, but most recommend pursuing rehab after detox to ensure a stable foundation for recovery.
Even in involuntary procedures, the patient does not stay locked in the facility. This means that it is possible for them to just not finish the treatment as ordered. Should they decide to do so, they can be held in contempt of the court. That might also be done for cases where the patient failed to stay abstinent from substance abuse. For these cases, a rule to show cause can be filed, but it is up to the judge to decide what will happen. Legally, the individual could even face jail time.
Insurance plans are required by law to provide some level of coverage for rehab treatment. Thankfully, all costs regarding evaluation and treatment can be submitted to the patient’s insurer. Should they not have insurance, they will be sent to a country provider to receive treatment. Costs will vary depending on the program and the time they spend in treatment.
Are You Ready to Pursue Treatment?
The Marchman Act should help people get the help they need and not realize that they do. But if you or a loved one are aware that you need help, it is just one phone call away. We at Coastal Detox can help you through every step of the process, from evaluation to full treatment.
We understand that the idea of getting help for addiction might be scary, or that some people might be hesitant to get treatment. That is why we provide top-quality facilities for all our patients, making their journey much more comfortable. We will make sure that all your needs are fulfilled, from nutritious (and delicious) food to zen gardens and common areas for socializing.
If you are concerned about payment, keep in mind that all insurance plans are obligated to provide some level of coverage. Coastal Detox has also partnered with many major insurance providers so that we could offer more affordable options. Our team can help you find out the best payment options for you.
If you have any questions, concerns, or would like to take a tour of our facilities, contact us today. We can give you all the information you might need in order to make an informed decision. Whether you are doing this for yourself or your loved one, we want to give you all the tools you need to overcome addiction because you should sail through recovery.