Keep Kids Drug Free

Does someone in your family need professional assistance?

It is difficult to watch someone you love slide into the world of addiction. All the words of wisdom and logic from well intentioned family and friends seem to not be heard and the loved one continues self destructive behavior. It seems nearly impossible for families affected by substance abuse.

We’ve all heard that people need to hit “rock bottom”… yet help is available before that point. Convincing an addict that help or rehabilitation is needed is a daunting task. Interventions are possible, but often the addict still won’t budge.

In such instances, it may be necessary to force an addict into substance abuse rehab. Florida’s Marchman Act is among the most progressive processes in the country regarding involuntary commitment.

The Marchman Act is a civil, confidential involuntary commitment statute in the state of Florida. It is a law devised to assist families via the court system to get loved ones into court ordered and monitored assessment and stabilization (detox) and long term treatment when the individual won’t or is not able to do so for themselves.

  • The Marchman Act is initiated by three people familiar with the individual and have direct knowledge of the substance abuse. The three people do not need to be family, but must be familiar with the problem.
  • It must be demonstrated that the person of concern may indeed inflict harm on themselves or others and that she/he has lost the power of self control with respect to substances they are using. It must be demonstrated that they do not have the capacity to understand their own need for care. It must also be evident that the person is not willing or able to do this voluntarily.
  • It has been noted that often times once the addict realizes this paperwork has been filed, they are willing to seek assistance.
  • The petition is filed with the Clerk of Court and is set for hearing within ten (10) days. Notice of hearing is provided by mail to the petitioners and is served to the party by a plainclothes Deputy Sheriff. The petition basically states that the petitioners want the judge to have the person assessed and stabilized. If the court deems it prudent to do so, an Order for Involuntary Assessment is entered and the person will be held for five days for medical stabilization and assessment.
  • Following this stage a recommendation, based on findings, is made to the court. If it has been determined that the party is in need of substance abuse treatment a Petition for Treatment must be filed with the court and a second hearing is held to review the assessment and recommendation(s). Based on this, the judge can order a 60 day treatment period, with a possible 90 day extension if deemed necessary. (NOTE: This may necessitate that the parties utilizing the Marchman Act file for the second hearing and be present in court.)
  • If an addict leaves treatment before completion, it is a violation of a court order. This gives the Marchman act its strength.

Throughout this process, it is wise for the friends or family members to be exploring information and assistance via Al Anon or Nar Anon to learn and to understand that we cannot control the addictions of our loved ones, but we can learn what we can do to support our family member or friend and what options are available.

For Marchman Act paperwork contact your local Clerk of Courts in any county and ask for Marchman Act paperwork.

For additional information

To locate a treatment program near you, go to and click on DCF Directory of Treatment Programs. This will provide you with an extensive listing of Florida treatment programs. Many of these programs are also very active within their communities and can offer education and intervention services as well.