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Can I Force My Loved One to Go to Rehab in Florida?

Watching a loved one struggle with drug or alcohol addiction is painful and scary. You may confront them, punish them, and even stage an intervention–all to no avail. Unfortunately, denial and refusal are common among people with substance use disorders. 

Denial is common because it can be difficult to admit having a problem with drugs or alcohol and refusal is common because going to treatment can be extremely intimidating. The problem is that denial and refusal can stop your loved ones from getting the help they desperately need, paving the way for far more harmful consequences in the future.

If someone you love is addicted, you may wonder whether or not you can force them to go to rehab in Florida. You’ll be pleased to find out that there are several options for involuntary commitment in the Sunshine State.

The Marchman Act: A Florida Law Allowing Involuntary Commitment to a Rehab Center

The Marchman Act, a law that is formally known as Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act, is a Florida statute that allows loved ones to go through a legal process that may allow them to force a loved one to go to rehab. It was passed in 1993 as a way to help people stay healthy and cope with substance abuse issues even when they can’t make sound decisions in regard to their own care. In other words, the Marchman Act allows friends and family members to involuntarily commit a loved one to a treatment facility against his or her will.

The Marchman Act can only be used when a person is in serious need of treatment and is refusing to seek help willingly. Instead, the law guides family members or loved ones through the process of petitioning the court for someone else’s involuntary commitment.

When Can I Invoke the Florida Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act is only valid in the state of Florida, but the individual who needs treatment does not have to be a resident of the state in order to qualify for involuntary commitment. As long as the person is currently in the state of Florida and meets one or more of the following three criteria, they may be forced to go to rehab.

Three circumstances in which you can file a Marchman Act petition include:

  1. Your loved one has inflicted, threatened to inflict, or attempted to cause physical harm to themselves or another person.
  2. Your loved one has lost the power to control his or her drug use as well as the ability to care for themselves adequately.
  3. Your loved one is clearly in need of professional treatment but is too impaired to make a rational decision about their health.

If your loved one meets one or more of the criteria and you are a spouse or relative, you may file a Marchman Act petition yourself. However, if you are not related, Florida allows for any three adults with direct knowledge of a person’s addiction to petition the courts and force someone to go to rehab.

How to Use the Marchman Act to Force Someone to Go to Rehab in Florida

If you have already tried staging an intervention, setting boundaries, and confronting your loved one about his or her substance abuse, but they still fail to accept treatment, you may consider taking matters to your local court system. The first step in filing for involuntary commitment in Florida is to fill out a Petition for Involuntary Assessment and Stabilization. You can obtain the forms from your local county clerk’s office or on their website. The forms require you to:

  • Describe your loved one in-depth
  • Provide details on where and when he or she can be located
  • Locate an open bed at a nearby rehab facility that will accept your loved one
  • Report the day and time of admission that the rehab facility has agreed to
  • Provide a list of any medical conditions your loved one may have

After completing and submitting your petition, a hearing will be held within the next 10 days during which the judge will either agree to or deny the petition. If the petition is granted, law enforcement personnel will serve the individual with a Marchman Act order. If your loved one doesn’t agree to go to treatment voluntarily, a law enforcement officer will escort them to the designated facility.

Once at the rehab facility, your loved one will undergo a mandatory psychiatric and physical health exam where an addiction specialist will determine whether or not further treatment is needed. The specialist will make a recommendation to the judge as to what type of treatment is appropriate and the judge will mandate your loved one to complete said treatment.

Other Ways to Force Someone to Go to Rehab in Florida

While the Marchman Act is the most popular way to obtain court-ordered rehab in Florida, there are other ways to approach involuntary commitment. These include:

  • General involuntary admission – A judge may mandate someone to rehab if they are impaired and have an evident problem with substance abuse.
  • Protective custody – A police officer may escort a person to treatment if he or she meets the legal criteria.
  • Physician’s certificate – A physician can complete a certificate that is often submitted alongside the Marchman Act petition to encourage a judge to mandate someone to a rehab facility.
  • Emergency admission – A loved one may file for emergency admission if the person is in crisis and in need of addiction treatment.
  • Extension of involuntary commitment – Medical service providers, as well as the court, may grant an extension of treatment if a person is already in rehab due to the Marchman Act but needs to stay in rehab longer.

Find Help for a Loved One Who is Struggling With Addiction

Addiction is a devastating but treatable condition. While many people who struggle with addiction are in denial that they need help, court-ordered rehab can offer concerned loved ones a way around someone else’s denial. If you’ve tried everything else and are at your wit’s end, you may consider trying to force your loved one into rehab in Florida.

If you or someone you love is affected by addiction, please don’t hesitate to give us a call. A qualified admissions coordinator is available to answer your questions, provide you with guidance, and help you begin the journey toward recovery.