Differences Between the Baker Act and Marchman Act

While the Baker Act and Marchman Act can both be used to involuntarily commit individuals to treatment while they are in the midst of a mental health crisis, there are significant differences between the two acts and how each should be used.

To explain the contrast between the Baker Act and Marchman Act, we will explore, in depth, how each of these acts can be used to protect someone who is struggling with a serious mental health issue from substantial harm. The following criteria should help give you an idea of which act may be more effective when it comes to getting your loved one into the appropriate form of treatment.

Using The Baker Act To Help A Loved One With Mental Illness

The Baker Act is a Florida law that allows an individual to be held for up to 72 hours for an involuntary assessment if his or her mental illness poses a real and present threat of serious bodily harm to the individual themselves or to others. Such harm often involves the threat of suicide, or of such neglect to his or her well being that person’s ability to make a rational decision about their need for care must be called into question.

Generally, the Baker Act can only be initiated by a qualified professional. This could include a law enforcement officer, psychiatric nurses, or other behavioral health professionals who are familiar with the patient and the risk of physical harm that their mental health issue poses.

One may also technically use the Baker Act to directly petition for involuntary assessment to the court themselves, but this is done far more rarely. So, if you are concerned about someone who refuses to seek treatment or to agree to a voluntary examination, your best bet may be to call emergency services so that the law enforcement professional called to the scene can determine if a Baker Act is necessary.

If it is, and if the court can determine that the patient meets Baker Act criteria, the person will then undergo involuntary assessment, during which a mental health examination will be conducted by two different qualified professionals. If those professionals agree that the person is likely to cause harm to themselves or others, they will then recommend treatment.

The patient will then have another opportunity to agree to voluntary treatment. But, if they remain defiant, the court may enact an ex parte order forcing them into treatment if their refusal poses a clear threat to themselves or others. Court ordered treatment can be inpatient or outpatient, and can last until the person is determined to no longer be in danger.

Using The Marchman Act To Help A Loved One Struggling With Substance Abuse

The Marchman Act is a Florida law that allows for involuntary assessment and, potentially, involuntary treatment of a severely substance impaired person who has refused voluntary examination and/or voluntary treatment. Spouses and family members or law enforcement or mental health professionals may petition the court using the Marchman Act, in which case only a singular filer would be necessary. However, three people who have no specific relationship to the person but have direct personal knowledge of the person’s substance abuse may also jointly file a Marchman Act petition.

Once the loved one or professional can petition the court, the judge will then set a hearing to take place in the next ten days, unless an ex parte or emergency order is deemed necessary to request examination sooner. At the hearing, those who filed the petition for involuntary assessment will testify to the degree to which their substance abuse impaired loved one is incapacitated. For instance, they may describe how recent behavior like extreme self neglect points to a dangerous lack of self control.

If the judge rules that the person meets the criteria for involuntary assessment, the person can be taken into custody and taken to a licensed service provider equipped to handle Marchman Act patients. After an involuntary examination by this licensed service provider, which should be conducted by at least two mental health professionals, the person may be released if professionals determine that their drug use does not qualify them for involuntary services.

If the person does meet the criteria for involuntary treatment based on their initial assessment, they will first be given the opportunity to agree to substance abuse services voluntarily. If they do not, the administrator of the facility must file a new petition for involuntary services, which will result in another hearing. One of the mental health professionals who conducted the involuntary examination must testify at this hearing, though both sides can still call any other family member or loved one that they want as a witness.

If the judge finds that the person does meet the Marchman Act criteria for involuntary substance abuse treatment, and determines that a less restrictive form of treatment has a substantial likelihood being unable to help the person, the court may then order the person into treatment for a maximum of ninety days, with one potential ninety day renewal.

The Connection Between Mental Health Issues And Substance Abuse

The reason that the Baker Act and Marchman Act can sometimes both be applicable to certain situations is because drug addiction, also known as substance use disorder, is technically classified as a mental health disorder.

Thus, Florida citizens may be able to petition for involuntary assessment using either act for a person who is suffering from substance abuse impairment, and even someone initially court ordered to receive treatment under the Baker Act could theoretically be ordered to complete specialized substance abuse treatment if substance use appears to be their primary problem.

And, since mental health issues are known to be highly correlated with addiction, it is highly possible that a person who is in crisis due to their addiction may also be mentally ill. Fortunately, mental health services are also usually offered during addiction treatment, so a person who is ruled unable to exercise self control due to their addiction by the court under the Marchman Act and ultimately enters treatment will likely see their overall mental health improve as well.

However, while the Baker Act can be used on a person suffering from addiction, it does not work the other way around: you cannot use the Marchman Act in court to request examination or treatment for someone who is mentally ill but who is not abusing substances.

To learn more about the Marchman Act, the Baker Act, and which one might be applicable to your loved one, you can review these resources or call our hotline any time at 833-497-3808. We also offer such services as professional intervention counseling, and can help your family to file a Marchman Act petition if your loved one remains unwilling to consider treatment despite our best efforts.

If your loved one is currently struggling with addiction and you believe that they may qualify for involuntary examination under the Marchman Act in the near future, we can guide you through every step of the process, from your initial petition to your court hearing.

We can also assist you in finding a rehab center or private practitioner where your loved one can attend treatment if the intervention or petition is successful. To learn more about this or our other services, feel free to contact us anytime here.

What Happens to My Job if I Attend Rehab?

Why Going To Rehab Is The Best Option To Seek Treatment For Substance Abuse

Risks Of Drug And Alcohol Abuse

Drug addiction, which is medically referred to as a substance use disorder, is an incredibly serious health condition that generally warrants treatment at American addiction centers. Particularly with more severe addictions or substance abuse issues, the risk of irreversibly harming your physical health through frequent drug abuse will only grow larger the longer you delay addiction recovery. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, these risks can range from everything from lowered IQ to bowel decay to permanent brain, liver, lung, or kidney damage.

Aside from those medical reasons to be wary of substance use disorders, there’s also the risk of falling prey to the overdose epidemic, particularly with strong drugs like opiates or any street drug that could be tainted with dangerously powerful fentanyl. There’s also the risk of irreversible legal or physical consequences from engaging in dangerous behaviors like drunk driving or impulsive sexual encounters.

On the mental health side, the longer you continue your drug and alcohol abuse, the more psychologically entrenched your destructive patterns will become, making addiction recovery harder and harder to achieve. Co occurring disorders will also have a chance to worsen into an increasingly complex and serious medical condition.

Though many people delay seeking treatment until they have reached a “rock bottom” following life events that are so catastrophic that they feel as if they have no choice but to go to drug rehab, treatment options and outcomes are generally more positive for those who begin the treatment process earlier in their addiction.

Benefits Of Addiction Treatment

American addiction centers can help you deal with any co occurring disorders that may have fueled your addiction issues, thus likely improving your work performance and productivity as well as your overall mental health and well-being.

Addiction treatment can also educate you on healthier coping mechanisms that you can use to deal with painful feelings instead of resorting to substance abuse to cope, and can help you build connections with the recovery community that will lay the groundwork for you to live a happier, sober life long term.

How Do I Find The Right Treatment Center For My Or A Loved One’s Substance Use Disorder?

American addiction centers vary widely in the types of addiction treatment program they offer. Treatment options like intensive outpatient programs (IOPs) may allow for someone to continue working even as they receive addiction treatment. This is because patients are not required to live in the treatment facility itself, instead spending between 6-30 hours in treatment and the rest free to attend to their responsibilities and live their everyday life as they see fit.

Of course, such a treatment center would not be appropriate for someone who needed acute detox for medical reasons, or whose mental illness was severe enough that they were acutely suicidal or at high risk of relapse. But, it may actually be possible for someone with milder issues to receive treatment for a drug or alcohol addiction without even letting their employer know they are going to rehab at all.

For many workers, though, including those whose severe addictions preclude a less restrictive form of treatment, taking leave from work may be a reality if they need to attend drug rehab.

Going To Rehab If You Have A Job

The decision to attend treatment for substance abuse problems is one of the best decisions you can a make if you are struggling with a substance use disorder. However, you may also be worried about the professional consequences that may occur if you choose to attend treatment, or about the substantial stigma that can come with this diagnosis. Since addiction is one of the most stigmatized conditions in the world, these fears are clearly not groundless.

Luckily, though, federal law protects the rights and privacy of people struggling to control their drug or alcohol use if those people are dedicated to seeking treatment and to following the correct protocol when procuring appropriate treatment options. To learn more about what is and is not required of you and of your employers if you are thinking of taking time off work for going to rehab, you can read through our guide below.

Can I Be Fired For Going To Rehab For Drug And Alcohol Addiction?

Though fear of getting fired for going to American addiction centers is one of the biggest reasons that those struggling with addiction delay entering a rehab program, the fact that addiction is a widely recognized medical condition means that certain legal protections do apply to it. The moment you enter addiction recovery and stop your drug or alcohol use, your past drug use becomes a federally protected disability that you cannot legally be penalized for.

However, while you generally cannot be fired for your past drug use or fired for going to rehab, you can get fired due to do a current substance use disorder that interferes with your job performance. If you are currently in the midst of an active addiction to illegal drugs, you are inherently less trustworthy due to your criminal behavior, and thus you can rightly and legally be fired.

Your employer will also likely have legitimate grounds for your termination if your drug or alcohol use is impairing your work performance or posing a threat to other employees, and be aware that company policy could likely prohibit the use of even legal drugs while in the workplace.

Employers maintain their right to a drug free workplace at all times, which is why the administration of drug tests to scan for illegal drugs are permitted, and why you may be liable for termination if you fail such a drug test. However, you may also be referred to a treatment provider or an employee assistance program and given the chance to attend addiction treatment instead depending on your workplace’s specific policy.

Note, though, that required drug tests cannot be used to fire any employee based on any legitimate prescription drugs they are taking, even if those drugs are also substances of abuse, such as some opiate painkillers and stimulant drugs used for attention deficit disorder. This also applies even to drugs like methadone or Suboxone, which are sometimes used to facilitate addiction recovery.

Furthermore, even if your employer never obtains proof that you have an addiction and thus will not be able to fire you for your addiction per se, they may be able to fire you due to its consequences. Over time, substance use disorders are likely to result in declining physical and mental health and thus to increased absenteeism and declining work performance, all of which can be detrimental to your career and put your job security at risk. In the long run, maintaining a sober life is the best way protect your financial livelihood as well as your more holistic well-being.

What Protections Do I Have If I Seek Treatment For Drug Or Alcohol Use?

How To Use The Family And Medical Leave Act To Seek Substance Abuse Treatment

Federal law protects the job security of those seeking treatment for any serious medical condition, including substance use disorders, with a policy of the United States Department of Labor called the Family and Medical Leave Act, or FMLA.

FMLA also allows for leave based on the serious medical condition of an immediate family member or the birth of or new adoption of a child, and your employer is required to continue providing you with health insurance coverage during whatever leave you end up taking.

FMLA leave can be taken for a period of up to twelve weeks, which will refresh yearly, meaning that you may be able to use this act more than once if you need multiple rounds of addiction treatment after a relapse. Twelve weeks adds up to around 84 days, so a 30 or 60 day stay in an addiction treatment facility would likely fit into that window.

The act is applicable to employees of all private employers with more than 50 employees in any 75 mile radius, employees of all public agencies, and employees of all public or private elementary schools. Eligible employees must have been working at the place in question for at least 12 months and must have worked 1,250 hours or more total.

However, you should be aware that FMLA leave will generally be unpaid leave, unless your employer requires you or unless you choose to take paid leave that you have accrued concurrently. You also will likely be required to submit documentation of your condition, such as through a doctor’s note or proof of your enrollment in a treatment facility.

It’s also possible that you may be asked by your employer to sign a return to work agreement involving stipulations on your behavior after you have completed treatment and rejoined the workplace. For example, you may be asked to refrain from all substance use and required to submit to a regular drug test to prove that you are clean, or to submit proof of your continual attendance at treatment appointments or twelve step meetings to solidify your sobriety.

Provided that those requirements are met, your employer will be required to reinstate you to your former position or to a position that is virtually equivalent in terms of pay, benefits, and working conditions upon your return. Besides those conditions that they set forth to ensure a safe and drug free workplace, it will be illegal for them to discriminate against you because of your health history.

Exceptions to the reinstatement clause may also be made if you are a key employee, one of the highest paid ten percent of employees at your location. If you are a key employee and your employer also determines that reinstating you would cause them undue injury, they may not be required to give you your job back after your leave for addiction treatment, though they must notify you when you request that leave that this will be the case.

How To Use The Americans With Disabilities Act When Seeking Addiction Treatment

The Americans with Disabilities Act is designed to protect qualified employees who suffer from “a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities,” or who have suffered from such an impairment in the past.

This act allows you to request reasonable accommodations for such a condition, including drug or alcohol dependence or another mental health problem, potentially including medical leave for treatment at American addiction centers. While you are not guaranteed leave under this act, you may be able to ask for it as one of the reasonable accommodations the law allows for.

And, again, unless your substance use disorder has been causing problems at work (eg, if you have been coming to work high or drunk), this act will prevent your employer for penalizing you for your drug addiction after you seek treatment, or for using your own personal vacation time to attend rehab.

Unlike the Family and Medical Leave Act, this statute comes with no minimum tenure, and your place of employment only needs to have 15 employees (or be a state or local government agency). Similarly to FMLA leave, your employer will be required to reinstate you upon your return unless that return would pose an undue hardship to them, in which case they will still be required to consider reassigning you to any vacant position that you are still qualified for.

Even if you do not require complete leave, you may qualify for other reasonable accommodations under the Americans With Disabilities Act. For instance, you may be able to arrange a modified work schedule to accommodate your attendance at an outpatient treatment program or regular twelve step meetings, or a part-time schedule to lower your workload and stress levels as you deal with physical withdrawals or the draining psychological work of addiction treatment.

Is My Privacy Protected If I Disclose My Substance Abuse Issues To An Employer?

Both the Family and Medical Leave Act and the Americans with Disabilities act contain provisions that protect your privacy if you disclose a drug or alcohol problem. However, you should be aware that limited exceptions may be permitted, as details of your conditions may be disclosed to your supervisors if it is deemed essential to your health or performance, as well as to first aid personnel in the case of an emergency or to government officials who are investigating your employer’s compliance with the aforementioned statutes.

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, also known as HIPAA, also prevents your treatment providers from disclosing any information about your addiction treatment to others, including your employer. However, there are some exceptions to this act as well, such as if a patient represents an imminent threat to themselves or others, or represents a threat to public health or safety.

Outside of these exceptions, though, it will likely be up to you choose how much about your substance use disorder and your time spent going to rehab you reveal to your other coworkers and colleagues. Though you should not be ashamed of seeking help for your medical condition, you may find it more comfortable or appropriate to refer only to non-specific health issues rather than reveal your full history with substance use disorder, and it is within your rights to do so.

How To Approach My Employer About Going To Rehab?

If you are considering going on medical leave at any American addiction centers to address your drug and alcohol use, you want to start by approaching your human services or human resources department about your plans to receive treatment. FMLA and ADA policies also require that notice of an impending leave or other necessary accommodation be given to your employer as early as is reasonable, so, if you have made a definitive decision to contact a treatment facility, time is of the essence.

When approaching your employer, you should be as honest and straightforward as possible, and should already have your rehab program lined up so that they know that you are serious about wanting to seek help. You should also try to approach your boss or supervisor first, rather than letting them hear of the problem second-hand through potentially toxic gossip.

Dealing With Treatment Costs While Attending Rehab

Treatment options and their affordability will depend on your individual budget and on your health insurance provider, which may be associated with your current employer. However, most providers should recognize your addiction as a serious health condition and be able to cover at least a portion of your addiction treatment. The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act (MHPAEA) actually makes it illegal for large group health plans to offer less favorable treatment to people struggling with drug addiction or other mental health issues than offered those struggling with physical health problems.

Additionally, some workplaces offer an employee assistance program that could be applicable to employees suffering from substance use disorders. This is a voluntary program that can offer services like counseling, treatment referrals, assessments, education, and and consultation to employees dealing with health or personal issues.

Such a service could help connect you or a loved one with treatment centers and to manage their emotions as they deal with addiction. Some American addiction centers will also be able to work with you on payment plans or offer reduced rates or treatment scholarships if you are having trouble paying for treatment options on your own.

Seeking Addiction Treatment For Yourself Or A Loved One

Using The Florida Marchman Act To Force Someone Into Addiction Treatment

If someone who you care about is clearly a danger to themselves or others due to their substance abuse but is unwilling to commit to treatment on their own, you may be able to use the Florida Marchman Act to legally compel them to enter treatment at certain American addiction centers.

Location of this person must be in whatever Florida county you intend on filing a Marchman Act petition in, and you must be able to prove before a judge that they will be a danger to themselves or to others if they are not compelled to seek help from an appropriate treatment provider.

You will also have to pay for this treatment yourself, so you will want to check with your insurance provider to find treatment centers that will accord with your financial as well as medical requirements. Any immediate family member of the person in question, a treatment provider who is familiar with their condition, or any three unrelated individuals can file one of these Marchman Act petitions.

However, invoking the Marchman Act can be an emotionally fraught and financially taxing process, especially if you enlist the guidance of a lawyer to assist you in filing your petition. Thus, we recommend that this only be used as a last resort if a loved one is unwilling to consider treatment centers on their own and other attempted interventions have failed.

Contact Our Helpline Today

To learn more about the Marchman Act process and how you can connect your loved one with an appropriate treatment provider, feel free to contact one of our skilled intervention counselors, who are experts in addiction medicine and in American addiction centers as well as in the Florida Marchman Act. You can call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or contact us online anytime here.

How to Find the Right Addiction Treatment Program

What To Look For In Addiction Treatment Programs

Treating addiction is no simple matter, and finding the right treatment program for yourself or a loved one may not be easy either. Of the multitudes of treatment programs out there for drug and alcohol addiction, not all are created equal, with ineffective and outright corrupt rehab facilities operating along with competent and righteous treatment centers.

For this reason, you’ll want to make sure you do your research on any given drug rehab program before seriously considering their treatment program for yourself or your loved one. You’ll also want to choose a treatment facility that has been in business for an extended period if possible, as even a well meaning “new kid on the block” is unlikely to be as well organized and effectively run as a rehab facility boasting a more extensive track record.

Generally, a treatment center that has been in operation for five years or more should be a good starting point. You can also assess treatment centers by searching for first hand testimonials that former patients have written about their experiences in the treatment facility, which, along with showing you how others feel about the treatment provider, should give you an idea of what treatment models the facility utilizes and what kind of treatment options you can expect your loved one to receive.

Treatment providers should also show evidence of having the appropriate accreditations, such as by reputable organizations like the National Institute of Health, Joint Commission International, or the Commission on Accreditation of Rehab Facilities. To find testimonials and accreditation information online, you can also utilize resources like, a site run by American Addiction Centers that provides in depth information about a multitude of treatment facilities in a convenient and easy to parse format.

You will also want to ensure that the addiction treatment professionals that staff a drug or alcohol treatment center are properly accredited and properly qualified along with the program itself. For instance, you will want to make sure there is at least one addiction medicine physician on staff who can prescribe any appropriate medications and address any other medical conditions that may arise in addiction recovery.

Similarly, all therapists on staff should be licensed counselors, meaning that they have been educated in the field of psychology at the master’s level as well as other specialized training and demonstrated their expertise through examinations.

Then, because mental health issues so often overlap with drug addiction, you will also likely want to get an idea of how any given rehab center deals with dual diagnosis. Dual diagnosis refers to the diagnosis of a mental health disorder in someone who is also struggling with drug abuse.

If this is the case for you or your loved one, you will want to find a treatment center that offers mental health services specific to whatever co occurring disorders they may be dealing with. You’ll also want to make sure you find a substance abuse treatment center that uses an evidence based treatment approach.

Evidence based models are those that use are supported by verifiable facts, such as scientific studies in addiction medicine and documented treatment outcome statistics. Such an approach will likely include individual therapy using proven methodologies like cognitive behavioral therapy, as well as support groups and group therapy to facilitate the fellowship and communion among patients that has been widely associated with positive treatment outcomes.

Then, while it may seem counterintuitive, you should also be particularly wary of any rehab program that seems to guarantee success. While drug rehab programs are usually the most effective treatment option for someone struggling with drug or alcohol addiction and full recovery is possible for most patients, addiction recovery is never a sure thing for any individual, so someone purporting a hundred percent effective treatment plan is naturally being disingenuous.

You should also be skeptical of any rehab centers that offer patients gifts or cash payment in exchange for treatment, which could indicate a dangerous health care provider who seeks to cash in on hefty insurance payments instead of providing the quality addiction treatment that they promise. Similarly, you should be suspicious if a rehab center’s site seems to focus only on issues of insurance and payment without providing much information about the addiction treatment options that they actually provide.

Ideally, rehab centers should also understand that addiction issues affect the entire family, and should thus provide family members the opportunity to engage in programs like family therapy with their loved one and/or to visit or communicate with their loved one regularly.

Along with these general notes, some aspects of finding the right rehab for your loved one will be more individualized. For instance, some rehab facilities cater to specific groups, such as young adults, women and girls, LGBT-Q identifying individuals, veterans, or individuals of a specific faith. Such a program may be able to offer a unique sense of safety and belonging that could help facilitate their recovery, and to focus on issues that may be more specific to their experience than might a more general program.

Then, there’s the matter of what physical treatment setting you are looking for, and thus whether you would prefer to only consider treatment providers close to home. While some practical benefits may be found from attending drug or alcohol abuse treatment nearby, such as the opportunity for a patient to engage with their existing support networks, an individualized treatment plan somewhere completely new may also allow you or your loved one to take a valuable step away from the people, places, and things that they associate with their addiction.

Also on a more practical level, the right rehab for you should also be a healthcare provider who will be able to work with your health insurance provider, and that has costs within an affordable price range for you and your family.

However, as long as medical reviewers are able to ensure the validity of an individual’s situation, insurers will usually be compelled to cover reasonable treatment for their addiction thanks to measures like the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act, which makes it illegal for large group plans to treat mental health conditions like addiction any differently than they treat physical health conditions.

Inpatient VS Outpatient Treatment Centers

In searching for the right treatment center, you also may find yourself wondering about the distinction between inpatient or residential treatment and outpatient addiction treatment. Basically, the main difference between inpatient treatment and outpatient treatment programs is that patients live at their treatment center in the case of the former but not of the latter.

Though inpatient treatment is probably more in line with your idea of a drug rehab center, many patients find that an intensive outpatient program is as or more suited to their needs than residential treatment. This may be because it has the benefit of allowing them to deal with temptation in the real world during their recovery process rather than secluding them from it, and allows them to maintain more connections to their support system and their former life.

As attested to by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, longer rehab programs are also more effective at preventing alcohol and drug relapse than shorter ones, so an intensive outpatient program may also be a convenient way to extend an individual’s treatment plan without requiring them to stay longer in residential treatment.

Inpatient treatment also shouldn’t be confused with a detox unit, which will usually only house patients for a few days to see them through painful and potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, offering necessary clinical care in the case of any acute medical conditions related to withdrawal. While important in their own right, detox services are generally only a stepping stone on an individual’s path to more comprehensive inpatient or outpatient treatment for an addiction.

Using The Marchman Act To Compel Involuntary Commitment

Once you have found the right treatment provider for your loved one, you should be prepared for the unfortunate possibility that you may face the additional struggle of that loved one not being prepared to accept treatment.

Denial and resistance to treatment are both well-documented aspects of the disease of addiction, as those affected by it may be so desperate to continue their drug use that they are incapable of acting in their own best interests or seeing the danger of their situation clearly. In such a circumstance, you may be able to use a Florida statute called the Marchman Act to legally require your loved one to enter substance abuse treatment or risk facing legal consequences if they do not comply.

To learn more about how one of our skilled intervention counselors can guide you through the Marchman Act process and help you ensure that your loved one receives the proper treatment for their addiction, feel free to call our helpline anytime at 833-497-3808 or contact us online here. Though involuntary commitment should be a last resort, it is sometimes a necessary step in saving a patient’s life.

How Enabling Can Fuel Addiction

In a most basic definition, the term “enabling” refers to any behavior performed by the loved one of someone with a substance use disorder that enables that person to continue abusing the substance. This could be behavior as direct as giving the person money with which to buy drugs or alcohol or giving them the substance itself, but there are also many far less direct ways in which the people who surround an addict could, mostly unwittingly, be fueling their continued drug use. 

For instance, if someone loses their job due to an addiction, actions like paying their non-drug related expenses or allowing them to live in your house rent-free could be considered enabling, because they are sparing the person from fully facing the consequences of their job loss, and because the person now does not have to get another job in order to survive or to live in comfort. 

This could in turn “enable” them to spend their days getting high rather than get back on the track to formal employment and a more stable life. Similarly, another common way that loved ones can enable addicts is by covering up for their mistakes—making excuses to their boss for missed days of work or bailing them out of jail after a DUI. 

Enabling may also involve taking over responsibilities for an addict, such as doing work or chores that they are too incapacitated to do themselves, thus enabling them to continue the behaviors that incapacitate them. 

Enabling, though, shouldn’t be confused with offering support, which would look more like the kinds of behaviors that can enable the addict to get help: helping them to find an appropriate form of treatment and assisting them in procuring that treatment when they may lack the emotional or practical resources to do so on their own. 

There are many different reasons behind enabling as there are reasons to enable: you may be in denial of the problem yourself, or you might feel that the person will be safer under your roof or using safely purchased substances than they would be if out on the street procuring from unknown dealers. There may be some truth to these ideas, though another unfortunate truth is that allowing them to remain in their addiction will place them in greater danger in the long-term.

There may also be an element of codependency, which can involve a conscious or subconscious need on your part to feel needed by the addict, or a comfort-through-familiarity with the usual dynamics of your relationship. Or, also as part of a long-standing pattern, you may simply be feeling too emotionally burnt out to have the energy to resist an addict’s sometimes forceful and emotionally manipulative demands. 

If you find yourself in such a fraught situation, it might be worth contacting a mental health professional who can give you individualized insight into the situation and the role you may be playing in your loved one’s addiction.

Another more insidious form of enabling is enabling that takes place through condoning the addict’s behavior. For instance, if you allow the person to abuse the substance or to become severely intoxicated around you without ever mentioning it, you’re basically sending them the message that their behavior is ok. 

Not to say that you shouldn’t offer emotional support to an addict or that you should deny them your love and companionship, as they are likely in incredible mental pain due to their condition and all the guilt, fear, and shame that can come with it, meaning that they be in more need than ever of the respite and affirmation of their worthiness that a caring presence could provide. 

You should also avoid actions like abruptly cutting the addict off, which could send them into a dangerous downward spiral. Instead, you should try calmly drawing a boundary, such as giving the person a clear ultimatum that lets them know the point by which they need to seek help or cease drug use, and clearly stating the consequences if they do not. 

What you should do, though, is send a clear verbal message to them that their behavior is not OK, and try talking to them about the problems you have observed with their current pattern of behavior and the risks you fear they may face if it persists.

In doing so, you should make it clear that the problem is with their disease and their behavior as opposed to with them as a person, and that you are concerned about their health and safety rather than the moral implications of what they are doing. 

In extreme cases, if a loved one remains resistant to getting help themselves and has clearly become a danger to themselves or others, you may be able to compel them to enter addiction treatment by using the Marchman Act, a Florida statute that allows for the involuntary commitment if someone whose substance abuse has severely impaired their judgment when it comes to their own condition. 

To learn more about how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you through the process of confronting a loved one about their addiction or filing a Marchman act petition, feel free to call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or to contact us online anytime here.

How Reactive Attachment Disorder Can Fuel Addiction

Reactive attachment disorder is a relatively rare condition that can present in early childhood, and one that is associated primarily with serious childhood trauma such as abuse or neglect that is suffered during the earliest period of their life, generally before they are 8 months old. It can also be associated with changes to a primary caregiver during the same period or the traumatic loss of a caregiver.  

These factors prevent the child from forming a healthy attachment with their caregiver as most children do, which can seriously disturb the internal model of relationships that normal children eventually form. Such a child will then become unusually withdrawn and less able to form bonds and relationships with others, as evidenced by the fact that they will not seek out comfort from others and may instead react negatively to attempts that are made to comfort them or to provide them with love and care. 

On the other hand, there also exists a “disinhibited” form of reactive attachment disorder, in which children, instead of becoming withdrawn, will instead not exhibit the appropriate discrimination when it comes to their attachment figures. 

Such children may be overeager to trust unfamiliar adults, which can pose a safety issue, and they may not show a preference for their caregiver over a stranger or the developmentally appropriate behavior of checking back in with their caregiver after venturing off. To complicate matters further, some children with reactive attachment disorder may also display behavior that has features of both inhibited and disinhibited attachment. 

Along with the attachment issues that are at the core of their disease, children with reactive attachment disorder will also typically display other signs of behavioral disturbance, such as a decreased ability to regulate their emotions, unexplained sadness, fearfulness, and irritability, or disproportionate responses to change or stress. 

These symptoms will often lead children with reactive attachment disorder to struggle socially in school as well as at home and should be apparent before a child is five years old. They also should not be better explained by a pervasive developmental disorder like autism, which can cause similar symptoms but is not related to a traumatic history. 

There is no standard treatment for reactive attachment disorder, but the child should obviously first and foremost be removed from the neglectful or abusive environment. Then, caregivers can work to establish a safe environment for the child and to establish a more secure attachment with them. Therapy and treatment can focus on improving children’s social and emotional regulation skills, and on providing them with the opportunity to establish meaningful and positive social relationships. 

However, if the child is not given adequate opportunity to form these relationships, or does not adequately resolve their original trauma, symptoms of reactive attachment disorder can persist into adulthood, which is where this diagnosis can potentially intersect with issues of substance abuse. 

Though the condition is rare enough that relatively few formal studies have been done on reactive attachment disorder outcomes, adults who displayed symptoms of reactive attachment disorder may still exhibit disturbed attachment, such as a reluctance to form relationships with others or a diminished ability to establish and maintain those relationships. 

They may also continue to struggle with symptoms like hyperactivity, anxiety, depression, and feelings of loneliness or emptiness, all of which have well-documented associations with the abuse of substances as an attempt to “self-medicate” emotional distress. 

If this behavior becomes sufficiently entrenched, treatment for the substance abuse disorder may be required in the form of a residential or outpatient treatment program. There, intensive therapy can help the person to tease out the roots of their addiction and address their traumatic past, as well as to learn new coping mechanisms and other emotional regulation skills that will help them to build the healthy relationships with others that will help them to maintain their sobriety.

In extreme cases, use of the Marchman Act may be required to force someone who is struggling with substance abuse due to the aftereffects of reactive attachment disorder or any other psychological condition to undergo this intensive treatment and turn their life back around, especially if their loved ones are perceiving clear signs that the person is becoming a danger to themselves or others. 

The Marchman Act is a Florida statute that allows for the involuntary commitment of someone who poses such a danger due to their substance abuse provided certain other conditions are met. Though this extreme measure should typically only be tried after lesser measures like talking to the person have failed, it is sometimes necessary for loved ones to take this painful step to ensure their safety. 

To learn more about the Marchman Act and how one of our skilled intervention counselors can guide you through the process of obtaining your loved one the appropriate treatment, you can call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or contact us online anytime here.

How Fentanyl Is Making Addiction Deadlier Than Ever

Recent statistics have shown that the overdose rates in the United States have risen to an unprecedented high, topping 100,000 for the first time ever in the period between April 2020 and April 2021, representing a 30 percent increase from the year before.

While part of this increase is due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which contributed to overdose deaths by making people more isolated and more despairing, it is also due in alarmingly large part to the proliferation of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid drug that is up to 30 times more potent than heroin and 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine. 

64 percent of the reported overdoses appear to have involved synthetic opioids like fentanyl, which was developed for pain management in cancer patients and is sold in prescription drugs under names like Actiq, Duragesic, and Sublimaze. 

However, synthetic fentanyl that is now being produced mostly in Mexico and China and imported into the United States is now infiltrating much of its drug supply. Fentanyl can be produced in powder forms that can be pressed into pills or in liquid forms sold as eye drops or nasal sprays, and can be injected, smoked, or snorted.

It produces a similar sense of euphoria to other opioid drugs, first showing up in dangerously powerful heroin laced with the substance but then as an additive to other street drugs like cocaine, methamphetamine, MDMA, and even marijuana.

As opposed to heroin, which is made from a poppy plant that must be grown, fentanyl can be made anywhere, making it difficult to regulate. It can also be made and sold far more cheaply, which, combined with its incredible potency, is a recipe for disaster, as dealers add it in to give their drugs a “kick” despite its incredible lethality.  

As little as three milligrams of fentanyl can be a fatal dose, a tenth of the amount of the 30 milligrams of heroin that would pose a similar risk. The strength of fentanyl also means that its overdoses are more difficult to reverse, sometimes showing resistance to the overdose-reducing drug Narcan or requiring higher doses of it. 

Even more worrisome, the DEA recently issued a warning about the proliferation of fentanyl pressed to look like legitimate opioid pain medications like Percocet or Oxycodone that they are far more potent than, dangerously increasing the risk of an unintentional overdose. Fentanyl laced imitators of non-opiate drugs, like Xanax and Adderall, have also been reported. The agency reports seizing 9.5 million of these fake pills this year, more than in the previous two combined. 

Experts refer to fentanyl as a “different beast” than its predecessors and worry that the crisis will only worsen. This is evidenced by tragic stories like the one described in one of the source articles listed below of the death of 13 year old Luca Manuel, who took a counterfeit Percocet laced with fentanyl that he bought to cope with pain from a root canal and died of an overdose. It is now not only heavy drug users who are at risk of overdose but anyone who so much as dabbles in almost any illegal drug. 

On the bright side, the scope of the current overdose crisis has prompted the Biden administration to take action. Reportedly, they are considering making fentanyl easier to research, which could result in better ways of combating its effects. They are also considering reclassifying it as a schedule 1 drug, meaning it would be classified as having no medical use and its possession could be more harshly persecuted. 

They have also allowed for federal funding of test strips that can detect the presence of fentanyl in illicit drugs that can be distributed to at risk users, while New York has opened up the US’s first supervised injection sites, where trained professionals will be on site to reverse any overdoses that do occur. 

While these harm reduction measures are steps in the right direction, the surest way to avoid fentanyl contamination is, of course, by not doing drugs at all. The fact that fentanyl is making so much of our drug supply so unsafe means that drug abuse and addiction is more dangerous than ever, as it only takes one unwitting use of an unsafe batch to invoke an irreversible tragedy. 

If you are worried about a loved one who is currently suffering from addiction, now is no time to let the problem go unaddressed. If you have already tried talking to them about their addiction and they remain resistant to getting help, it may be time to learn more about the Marchman Act, a Florida statute that allows someone who is a danger to themselves or others due to a substance abuse disorder to be involuntarily committed to a treatment program provided certain other conditions are met.  

To learn more about the Marchman Act or about how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you through the process of confronting your loved one or of filing a Marchman Act petition if lesser measures are unsuccessful, feel free to call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or to contact us online anytime here.


When An Addict Tries “Pulling A Geographic”

To those who have not experienced it, many aspects of an addict’s psychology can be baffling, including the tendency that some addicts have to react to the fact that their life has become unmanageable due to their substance abuse by packing up and leaving town to start fresh somewhere else entirely. 

This practice is known informally within recovery circles as “pulling a geographic,” and, like drug addiction itself,  it is a usually misguided way of seeking external changes as a solution to internal problems, a literal running away from one’s problems as opposed to the emotional running away from one’s problems represented by getting high. 

While an addict who is pulling a geographic may admit that they have a problem, they may declare that their surroundings are the problem, and thus that problem can be solved by simply changing where they live. If they can move somewhere else, escape their burnout and change their scenery, perhaps get a new job and then find a new circle of friends, then, they say, everything will be fine. 

This, of course, ignores what might be clear to outsiders what is the most pressing cause of the issues: their substance abuse. While someone who is struggling with an addiction may indeed have problems in many other areas of their life, addressing those problems can be a tempting way for them to avoid facing the hard and scary truth that they have a serious substance problem and that getting clean for good is likely the only lasting solution to the reasons that their lifestyle has become dysfunctional. 

In the worst case scenario, suddenly “pulling a geographic” while exhibiting many of the other signs that their addiction has escalated to a critically dangerous level may also be an indication of a person’s conscious or subconscious plan to go entirely off grid to continue abusing substances in a place where they may have less people looking over their shoulder, a dangerous indication of denial of or apathy to the seriousness of their circumstances. 

However, in other ways, the desire to move to a new place could actually be a good sign insofar as it indicates a willingness to start over, a symbolic new beginning that could actually help them cut ties with the people, places, and things that they associate with addiction. A new start, though, is not in itself a cure, for one important reason that is another common saying in the recovery world: “wherever you go, there you are.”

In other words, if someone simply packs up and runs from a wrecked life without addressing the underlying issues that caused it to collapse and learning better coping mechanisms that they can use to manage their emotions instead, those issues are wont to reappear somewhere else. 

So even if an addict is heading out with better intentions, maybe even intentions of getting clean, being away from one’s support system and any accountability might not be the best recipe for facilitating recovery, especially during their vulnerable early stages of it. 

Pulling a geographic could also be a cause for concern because it may make it harder for loved ones to intervene in the case of an emergency or to even be aware that that emergency is occuring.  For instance, they may not be able to contact emergency services in the case of an overdose, and the Marchman Act, a Florida law that allows for the involuntary commitment of someone whose substance abuse has made them a danger to themselves or others (provided that certain other conditions are met,) can generally only be served if the person is physically in the county that you are filing the Marchman Act petition in.

For these reasons, it might be worth trying to step in before an addict acts on plans to leave the area if you become aware of those plans in advance, perhaps by encouraging them to seek treatment rather than escape. Or, in what might be a good compromise, perhaps you could suggest that they can move in addition to committing to a more traditional treatment plan that will be in place in their new surroundings rather than instead of one. 

If they remain intent on leaving without committing to such a plan, though, it may be best to try to intervene before they do. To learn more about how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you start a conversation with your loved one about their substance abuse, and, if such an effort is unsuccessful, guide you through the process of starting the Marchman Act proceedings, feel free to call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or to contact us online anytime here.

Five Tips For Talking To A Loved One About An Addiction

While the Marchman Act, which allows for the involuntary commitment of people who have become a danger to themselves or others because of their substance abuse, is usually used as a last resort, there are many lesser measures that you can take to help protect your loved one before such a crisis point has been reached. 

For instance, if things have not yet escalated to the point where you fear for their well being, you could try simply talking to them about the possibility of voluntarily undergoing substance abuse treatment. Here are a few tips to give you a framework for how you should approach such a conversation. 

1. Don’t Be Afraid To Reach Out At All

While confronting a loved one about something as weighty as an addiction may be daunting, that doesn’t mean you should be afraid to reach out. The earlier that an addict gets treatment, the more likely they are to recover, as the addiction will simply get more entrenched the longer your loved one engages in it. 

Adding to that, the risk that your loved one could suffer an overdose or another fatal or otherwise irreversible consequence if they continue along their current path should outweigh your fear of experiencing discomfort during the conversation or damaging the relationship by confronting them. 

For someone whose substance abuse problem has not yet escalated into a full-blown addiction, it’s possible that they actually haven’t realized they have a problem, and they may be able to get back on the right path after you point out to them the extremity of their behavior without formal treatment. 

For others, realizing a loved one is concerned enough to step in may be the wake up call they need to consider professional treatment, and they may even be relieved that you have reached out to them and that you no longer have to bear the burden of their addiction alone. 

2. Be Prepared For The Conversation To Be Difficult

However, none of the above is to say that such a conversation will be easy. A loved one may become defensive when confronted about a drug problem that they are too afraid or ashamed to admit to, and instead may make excuses, try to wheedle out of the discussion and deny your accusations, or react with outrage. 

Even if they do have that kind of negative reaction, your willingness to talk to them may open the door for them to reach out down the road when they are more comfortable if you make it clear that you are a safe person to come to. 

To minimize reactivity and turmoil during discussion of such a fraught topic, try to approach them while both you and they are in as calm of a state as possible. Ideally, you also should not approach them while they are intoxicated, but as some addicts may be in the habit of getting high almost constantly, confronting them while they do not have their full faculties available is better than not confronting them at all. 

3. Emphasize Facts Rather Than Your Emotions

While it is reasonable for you to feel all kinds of negative emotions in reaction to a loved one’s substance abuse problem, they are not likely the best thing to bring to the table in a discussion with someone who is struggling. 

Instead, you should make an argument to them by bringing up specific incidents that illustrate why you are concerned: raising examples of things they have done that are illegal, dangerous, or out of line with the moral values of their sober self, or of relationships that they have damaged or opportunities they have lost because of their drug use.  

You could also lend credence to your argument by either confronting them with another person who is also concerned or mentioning that others in their life share your concerns around their substance abuse. 

4. Show Support And Concern As Opposed to Judgement Or Shaming

While addiction can sometimes make it difficult to relate to a loved one, you should never lose sight of the fact that they are a human being deserving of respect, dignity, and empathy rather than a problem to be solved. 

Thus, you should make it clear that you are having this conversation with them because you love them and are concerned about their well-being, not because you have a moral objection to their behavior or think they are a bad person.

You should also avoid using stigmatizing language like “addict” or “junkie,” and try asking them open questions about what they are experiencing that show that you care about their perspective and experience rather than only pursuing the agenda of getting them into treatment, however important that goal may be. 

To prepare for this conversation, you may also want to educate yourself on addiction, which will help you to direct any negative emotions you do express to the disease of addiction and not the loved one themselves. You should also try to be positive about the future and the fact that full recovery is possible, offering examples of role models who prove just that. 

5. Offer Concrete Next Steps

Even if your loved one is able to hear your concerns and agrees with you that treatment is needed, they may say that they are not ready for treatment yet and offer reasons they need to delay getting help that may not amount to anything but excuses. While you don’t want to push your loved one too hard and risk burning a bridge, you should also be aware that condoning a drug addiction can be a slippery slope to enabling one. 

Depending on your relationship with the person and their mental and emotional status, you may arrange a time to check back in so that you can confirm they have begun the process of seeking treatment, or you may proceed directly to helping them through the process of securing a place in a treatment center. 

You should also make clear that you will be supportive to them throughout their recovery—for example, you can promise to visit them or talk to them on the phone if they are entering an inpatient program, or offer to drive them to and from their outpatient appointments.

Get Through To A Loved One With The Help Of A Skilled Intervention Counselor

If an initial attempt to talk to a loved one about their addiction didn’t go as well as you hoped, don’t despair. The help of a professional like one of our skilled intervention counselors may be the bridge you need to get through to your loved one, and they can also assist you in filing a Marchman Act petition if an attempted intervention remains unsuccessful. 

If you have talked to a loved one and found that they are amenable to treatment, you should also feel free to contact us for help with finding a treatment center appropriate to your loved one’s needs and answering any other questions you may have about addiction and recovery. To learn more, reach out anytime by calling 833-497-3808 or contacting us online here.

Is Tough Love the Right Approach for Addiction?

You may have heard the term “tough love” tossed around in relation to how one should deal with addiction in a loved one. But whether or not tough love is the “right” approach for you and the person you are concerned about depends how exactly you define the term and what actions you are considering taking. 

This is because it can sometimes be difficult to distinguish setting appropriate boundaries or ceasing behaviors that may be enabling a loved one’s addiction with a more punitive or demeaning approach. 

While the former may be necessary for your own or your family’s physical safety or emotional health and could spur your loved one to seek treatment, the latter is unlikely to be productive and is far more likely to be harmful. 

When Tough Love Might Be Appropriate

One instance in which tough love may be the way to go is when it refers to the loved ones of an addict deciding to stop behaviors that may have been enabling them. Though it may have been done with the best of intentions, providing an addict with money that they can use for drugs, excusing their bad behavior, or even just giving them a roof over their head, may allow an addict to continue to abuse drugs without experiencing the repercussions that might help them realize that their lifestyle is not sustainable. 

Thus, if you have their best interests at heart, doing something as harsh as monetarily cutting a loved one off or kicking them out of the house until they can get clean may be an appropriate action, especially if their behavior while intoxicated poses a safety risk to you or others in the family. 

Other examples of this kind of tough love could include a refusal to help the addict with legal problems, alerting the addict’s employer or anyone else their addiction is affecting, or alerting the authorities so that they may prosecute the addict for any crimes committed or ensure the safety of any children the addict’s behavior may be putting at risk. For some addicts, it takes measures like this to get them to come to their senses and agree to get help, though they are likely to react with anger before submitting to this help.

In these cases, you should state the tough-love boundaries you plan on enacting clearly and directly, and in a calm, rational manner instead of impulsively and emotionally. Setting these clear boundaries may spur your loved one to consider recovering, or, in sadder situations, it may be the beginning of the process of disentangling yourself from a family member who is unwilling to change. 

When Tough Love Might Not Be The Best Approach

Though tough love can sometimes refer to the boundary-setting practices described above, they can also describe efforts to break down a person’s will and spirit in the hopes of making them so desperate that they will recover. As opposed to protecting them, this type of tough love has the aim of shaming, punishing, and humiliating the addict, who is likely already in an incredibly fragile mental state. 

While anger and resentment of an addicted loved one are completely valid emotions you should take the time to work through on your own, they are unlikely to be productive when directed towards the loved one in question. Likewise, while a reasoned discussion of the risks of drug use could be persuasive to your loved one when they are in a sober and calm state, emotional scare tactics may simply drive them further into denial

On the other hand, making it clear to your loved one how much you still value and care about them and that they will have your full support if and when they decide to seek treatment could be incredibly powerful.

Someone who is suffering from addiction is struggling with a complex disease, which means that the actions they undertake during the course of that disease are not fully their fault, nor are they necessarily a reflection of the person underneath that may have a chance to reemerge if your loved one chooses recovery.  

While giving an active addict material things or practical help could be an enabling slippery slope, giving them compassion costs nothing, and can do no harm. Even if someone is dangerously out of control, you can still for example, take their phone calls, communicate with them virtually, or meet with them in safe, public settings. 

In general, tough love should only be used after gentler approaches have failed. However, each person and situation is different, and a threat that could motivate one addict to recover could be the thing to send another into a dangerous downward spiral. Thus, the safest thing to do when wondering how or if you should use tough love when dealing with an addicted loved one is to contact a professional, such as one of our skilled intervention counselors.  

Using The Marchman Act To Force A Loved One Into Treatment

No matter how much you care about an addicted loved one, there is no surefire way to “make” them stop using drugs. However,  if a loved one’s behavior is so out of control that you believe they may be a danger to themselves or others, you can attempt to invoke the Marchman Act, a Florida statute that allows for the involuntary commitment of someone whose substance abuse has reached such a threshold provided that other criteria are met. 

Though it should always be used as a last resort due to the potential that such a harsh measure could cause lasting damage to your relationship with your loved one, the Marchman Act is an example of the right kind of tough love, as it is invoked with the intention of preserving their well-being rather than punishing or shaming them.

To learn more about the Marchman Act, addiction treatment, and how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you find help for a loved one, feel free to reach out to us today at 833-497-3808.

What To Do If You Think Someone Has Overdosed

If you are a loved one of someone who is struggling with addiction, the idea that the person you are concerned about may suffer an overdose before you are able to convince them to undergo treatment may be one of your worst nightmares. 

And your fear is in fact a very reasonable one. Drug overdoses are devastatingly common, with yearly overdose deaths having surpassed 100,000 per year in the US, making Americans more likely to die from an overdose than they are from car crashes and gunshot wounds combined. Here are some signs that someone may be experiencing a drug overdose, and some simple instructions that could be life-saving if you do find yourself dealing with someone who you think has OD’d. 

Symptoms of An Overdose

Though symptoms of an overdose can vary depending on what drug has been consumed, the most obvious cause for alarm is if someone appears unresponsive or unconscious, especially if you attempt to wake them and they are unable to be roused. 

Another cause for immediate concern is someone whose breathing has become slow and shallow or stopped altogether, or who has an unusually slow, erratic, or stopped heartbeat. You may also notice choking or gurgling sounds from someone who is choking on their own vomit or on their tongue, or that someone appears to be having seizures. Blue lips or fingernails, pale, clammy skin, and chest pain are other immediate causes for alarm. 

Someone who appears unusually confused, disoriented, anxious, uncoordinated, or agitated may also be experiencing an overdose, or are showing signs that they are in an intoxicated state that may progress towards one. With certain drugs, death may also occur from overheating or dehydration, so keep an eye out for signs of these conditions as well. 

What To Do If Someone Is Experiencing An Overdose

As impossible as it may sound, you should try to stay calm as you work through the situation, and the first thing that you will probably want to do is call 911, and let them know immediately that someone is not breathing if that is the case. 

You should be prepared to tell emergency services your address, or about any landmarks that you are near or your approximate location if you do not know the address that you are at. They may also ask for the person’s age and sex and for any relevant medical information, including what the person has taken, which you should answer as accurately as possible to waste no time in getting them the right treatment. If you have access to any of these drugs,

Then, while you wait for first responders, it may be necessary to perform rescue breathing, if the person has a pulse but is not breathing, or CPR, which involves cycles of rescue breaths and chest compressions, if their heart appears to have stopped as well. 

If the person is unconscious but is still breathing, or if they begin breathing again after you perform rescue breathing, you will want to place them in the recovery position to keep their airway open and reduce the risk that they will choke or their breathing will cease. Turn the person onto their side, bend their upper knee to support their body, and turn their face to the side. Then, tilt their head back and lift their chin to open their airway, and make sure that there is not anything blocking it. 

If you are attempting to revive someone from an opioid overdose, you may also be able to do so with naloxone, which is available as the intranasal spray Narcan as well as in an injectable formulation. If someone you know routinely abuses opioids, you should have naloxone on hand in case of just such an emergency, and know the basics of how to use it. This includes appropriate dosing, since a dose too high may send an opioid user into instant, painful withdrawal, which could prompt them to take more drugs and put themselves at further risk. 

You should also beware that since the effects of naloxone are temporary and it will take the person awhile to clear the opiates from their system, you may need to revive the person with it more than once, even if they do not take any more drugs in the meantime. Other complications of opioid overdose can also occur, so you should still call emergency services so they can monitor and assess the situation rather than attempt to handle it yourself. 

What Not To Do If You Think Someone Has Overdosed

Along with what you should do, you should also be aware of things that you should not do if someone appears to be overdosing. For instance, while it is ok to try to wake someone up and a good idea to try to keep them awake, such as by engaging them in conversation, you should not try to perk them up with coffee or give them anything else to drink. This is unlikely to be helpful but may cause vomiting, which presents the risk of choking. You should also not attempt to induce vomiting for the same reason. 

You should also not try putting the person in a bath to wake them up, as this presents a drowning hazard, or try waking them up with ice, since cooling them down could slow down their system further. Nor should you try injuring them or injecting them with another drug (such as an upper if they have OD’d on downers) or with salt water, as this is unlikely to help matters and is likely to cause further harm. 

You also shouldn’t be afraid to contact emergency services because you fear legal retribution for you or your loved one’s drug use—emergency services will usually not contact the police, and most states have Good Samaritan laws to protect anyone who calls 911 in an emergency even if they have been involved in drug-related criminal activity. 

Finally, do not leave the person alone unless it is absolutely necessary. If another safety issue means that you absolutely must, be sure to put the person in the recovery position before you do so, and to leave the door open so that emergency responders will not have any barriers to reaching the person. And under no circumstances should you let the person resume using the substance they have overdosed on or any other drugs, even if they appear to be “recovered.” 

But the best way of protecting someone from an overdose is preventing it altogether by curtailing a person’s substance abuse. If your loved one has been abusing substances and is uninterested in pursuing treatment on their own, you may be able to have them committed involuntarily using the Marchman Act if certain other conditions are met. To learn more about the Marchman Act or how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help guide you through the Marchman Act process, contact us now at 833.995.1007 or online here.