The Differences Between Residential Treatment And Intensive Outpatient

While addiction treatment can take many forms, perhaps the most meaningful distinction to be found is the distinction between residential and outpatient forms of addiction treatment. If a Marchman Act Petition is successful, a defendant may be court ordered to enroll in either of these treatment formats, depending on such factors as the severity of their illness, the availability of beds, and their family situation. 

Here is a little more information about these different forms of treatment, so that you can assess which one may be right for your loved one and know what to expect depending on which choice you, the courts, or your loved one’s treatment team ultimately end up making. 

What Is Residential Treatment?

Residential or inpatient addiction treatment is probably what most people think of when they imagine “rehab.” These closed facilities require patients to physically live inside the facility, and may be preceded by a period of acute detox (which will typically last for a period of around five to seven days) if it is deemed medically necessary for a physically dependent addict. 

This form of treatment is generally recommended for patients who are suffering from severe substance abuse problems, for whom less intensive forms of treatment have previously been unsuccessful, or who do not have strong support systems or family resources at home, meaning that the risk of relapse is high if they remain in that environment. Residential care may also be recommended for patients who present with violent or suicidal behavior that could constitute a risk if they remained in the community. 

Once a patient moves on from detox to residential treatment proper, they will likely stay for an average of around twenty eight days, with a higher end of sixty to ninety days or even longer for patients who present suffering from severe dependencies. Afterward, the patient may transition into an outpatient program or another less intensive form of treatment before moving on to an aftercare plan, which may still involve regular therapy and regular attendance at support group meetings. 

What Is Intensive Outpatient Treatment?

To be considered an intensive outpatient program, treatment typically involves the patient’s participation in treatment programs for around 8 hours a day on at least 3 days a week, making it an appropriate option for patients who have substance dependencies but who are not at acute physical or psychological risk due to their addiction.

Ideally, these patients should have a strong motivation to get sober and a supportive family environment they can safely reside in while undergoing this treatment. Intensive outpatient is also an attractive option for patients who need to continue to fulfill professional or personal obligations while also receiving intensive treatment for an addiction. 

Does My Loved One Need Residential or Intensive Outpatient Treatment For Their Addiction?

Which form of treatment would be most appropriate for your loved one is dependent on their individual needs, as both options have their own unique pros and cons. For instance, while residential treatment has the benefit of practically eliminating the risk of relapse, it is generally more expensive than outpatient programs, and some patients may find the environment so restrictive that they may forgo treatment entirely rather than endure such restrictive confinement. 

On the other hand, while intensive outpatient allows the patient more opportunity to give in to temptation, it provides the benefit of allowing patients to experience all the tension, responsibilities, and triggers of everyday life while still being supported by the guidance of their treatment program, which is why it is so valuable for patients who are transitioning out of a more restrictive treatment program like residential.

One “middle ground” option that allows many patients to strike a successful balance between freedom and supervision is to enroll in an intensive outpatient program while residing in a sober living residence. This way, they will be subject to more strictures than they would be if they were living on their own or in their family home, but will still be able to attend to obligations in the outside world and adapt to the reality of everyday life without substances. 

Traditional requirements in such sober living homes include the maintenance of a one hundred percent substance free living space, regular drug tests, regular attendance at all treatment program appointments, daily curfews, adherence to household guidelines, and/or daily attendance at the appropriate twelve step meeting (i. e. Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, Cocaine Anonymous). 

For more information about the differences between these two forms of substance abuse treatment or how you can use the Marchman Act to help a loved one who is struggling with an addiction, feel free to call our helpline anytime at 833.995.1007 or to contact us online here. Our skilled intervention counselors can guide you through every step of the Marchman Act process, including finding an appropriate inpatient or outpatient facility that is suited to your loved one’s individual needs. 

How Do I Start The Marchman Act Process And What Should I Expect?

While filing the Marchman Act is never an easy thing for a filing family member or their loved one, setting the Marchman Act process into motion is actually fairly simple, only requiring the filing of a Petition for Examination.

The specific procedure for filing this petition varies by county, but to look at Palm Beach County as an example, the petition takes the form of a five page document that requires “specific facts of recent behavior” to support your claim that your loved one is either a danger to themselves or a danger to others or too incapacitated by their substance abuse to recognize their need for care. 

Along with this description sheet, you will also be required you to fill out a date of birth form, notice of related cases, and cover sheet, and will need to get this petition notarized. Then, you will file it to unified family court. Palm Beach County requires no filing fees, but the person you are filing this petition for must be physically located in Palm Beach County at the time of filing. 

Then, in response to this petition, the judge may decide to set a hearing that will take place in the following ten days. Both the petitioner and the respondent are required to be at this hearing, which will determine whether assessment is necessary. The judge may also make an emergency or “exparte” order without hearing, which will take effect immediately. 

Then, law enforcement will be authorized to take the person into custody and to deliver them to the nearest Marchman Act receiving facility. This order will be good for the next seven days, unless the judge specifies that it should last for less. 

Then, the facility will have 72 hours to assess the patient. After that, they will release the patient if they do not meet the criteria for involuntary admission, release them for voluntary inpatient or outpatient treatment if the patient is amenable, or file a petition with the court to request involuntary services.

This petition can only be filed by the facility administrator, not the friend or family member who filed the initial petition for examination, and must include the written opinion of two psychiatrists or clinical psychologists, both of whom must have examined the patient face to face. It is also required that the evaluation prove that no less restrictive treatment option could reasonably be expected to improve the patient’s condition.

Another hearing will be set within five days of the filing of this second Petition for Involuntary Services, and the judge will assign the defendant a public defender unless they have a private attorney. One of the examining psychiatrists must provide testimony, and both sides can call any other witnesses that they wish to. 

Then, if the judge chooses to grant this petition, they will order that the defendant be retained at the facility that assessed them or transferred to a different one that is more appropriate to their needs. They will be ordered to remain in treatment for a period of up to 90 days, and the facility will have the option of filing an additional Petition for Involuntary Services for an extension of the order if they believe the patient requires any additional services. 

The ordered treatment can be inpatient or outpatient, and can only be required based on substance abuse, and not based on another mental health issue (in which case the Baker Act may be more appropriate.) It also cannot interfere with or substitute individual’s existing mental health treatment. 

It’s also worth noting that even inpatient treatment centers are not locked down facilities, so a defendant may choose to leave treatment of their own accord, though they will be risking legal consequences and even jail time if they choose to do so. In this case, a defendant may be ordered back to court for a  hearing that will determine whether they are found in contempt. 

You should also be aware that it will not be the court’s responsibility to find a bed and a receiving facility, or to pay for treatment. A Marchman Act petition also cannot interfere with a criminal case, be used to locate a missing person, or be used solely to make a child obey their parents, though parents can file on a child’s behalf.

For more information about what you can expect and what will be expected of you as you navigate the Marchman Act process, as well as how one of our skilled intervention counselors can guide you through the emotionally fraught proceedings, feel free to contact our helpline anytime at 833-497-3808, or to contact us online anytime here.

Five Signs It Might Be Time To Use The Marchman Act

Someone who finds themselves considering the Marchman Act, the Florida statute that allows for the involuntary commitment of someone who has been abusing substances and meets certain other criteria, is not likely to be taking the matter lightly. Forcing treatment on a loved one is never pleasant for anyone involved, but, in some high-risk situations, it may be the best option to take to ensure their long-term health and safety. The following signs are some serious tip offs that your loved one may be spiraling out of control, and that your intervention may be required.

1. They Are Unable To Manage Their Own Lives

The further one falls into an addiction, the less able they will be to engage in life and attend to even sometimes their most basic responsibilities. Someone who is unable to maintain their professional, personal, or academic obligations due to their substance abuse—i. e., someone who is failing or dropping out of school, quitting or getting fired from a job, or mismanaging significant family responsibilities like childcare, is likely incapacitated enough that the Marchman Act should be seriously considered. 

This also holds true of someone who is only seemingly functional because you or others have been making excuses for them or covering up for their mistakes. The more profound someone’s withdrawal from or inability to cope with life is, the more concerned you should be.

2. Their Physical Health Is Deteriorating

If someone persists in their substance abuse despite the fact that it is causing them serious health consequences, intensive professional treatment is most likely needed. If someone refuses to stop or curtail their use even after showing clear signs of drug-related health issues—for instance, liver problems or cognitive impairment due to alcohol abuse— you absolutely have grounds to step in. 

You may also want to be aware of visual signals of a severe drug problem, such as someone who is seriously underweight. You might notice open sores from untreated wounds, possibly acquired from the injection of IV drugs, or that someone has stopped paying attention to even basic personal hygiene. 

3. They Are Engaging In Increasingly Risky Behavior

Whenever someone uses illicit drugs or abuses legal ones, they are putting themselves at at least some risk, but a pattern of escalating risk-taking demonstrates pretty clearly that that Marchman Act may be warranted. Along with the risks arising from drug use itself, you may notice that someone is engaging in unsafe sex while intoxicated, or engaging in behaviors that come with the risk of legal consequences to be able to abuse or afford drugs, like stealing, intoxicated driving, shoplifting, or even attempting to forge prescriptions. 

Another cause for alarm is escalation in the substance abuse itself: someone switching from snorting or smoking a substance to injecting it, from prescription opioids to a street drug like heroin, or from habitual use to constant intoxication. For certain drugs, and certain drug combinations, overdose is a very real threat that requires the utmost precautions be taken, even if that means involuntary commitment.

4. Their Behavior Or Mental State Has Become Increasingly Volatile

Someone who is out of control due to their addiction may demonstrate increasingly unpredictable behavior. They may appear inordinately depressed or worryingly grandiose or paranoid, going on crying jags or flying into rages at the drop of a hat. They might regularly be so high that they have trouble understanding what is going on or relating to you in any meaningful way, or may even appear be out of touch with reality altogether.

Additionally, you should also be concerned if someone who you believe is suffering from addiction suddenly disappears or becomes uncommunicative. It may be worth tracking them down and attempting to use the Marchman Act in case they have gone off the grid because they are in crisis, in which case you might be able to stop a dangerous spiral. 

5. They Show Signs Of Being A Danger To Themselves Or Others

Patterns of escalating use and increasing emotional instability tie into the most important sign it might be time to use the Marchman Act: if someone is clearly a danger to themselves or others. Danger to others can take the form of abuse or threats of abuse, or another actual or attempted crime, such a threat of harm if someone does not provide them with money for drugs.

It can also involve behaviors like drunk driving, or someone who is engaging in another dangerous activity while intoxicated (e.g. a doctor performing surgery, a pilot flying). Danger to others might also take the form of a parent who is routinely attempting to care for children while also showing signs that they are suffering from a serious substance abuse problem that impairs their judgement. 

As far as danger to oneself, along with neglect of one’s health or escalating drug use, you should beware of potential suicidality. Someone who describes wanting to die or states that they do not care if they do is raising a serious red flag, and in this case, the Baker Act might be an option as well.

As tragic cases like the one behind Casey’s Law indicate, it is far better safe than sorry if you are worried about someone who is exhibiting any of these signs or who is otherwise seriously incapacitated. For guidance on whether the Baker Act or the Marchman Act is more appropriate for your loved one, or for any other questions or inquiries about the Marchman Act and how to begin the process of filing a Marchman Act petition, feel free to call us any time at 833-497-3808, or to contact one of our skilled intervention counselors using this online form

How To Take Care Of Yourself While A Loved One Is Struggling With Addiction

As difficult as addiction is for the person who is going through it, it can also be incredibly difficult for the people who care about that person. Here are a few tips that can help you attend to your own mental well-being as you muddle through this taxing situation.

1. Educate Yourself About Addiction

Addiction is an incredibly complex condition that can have a wide variety of contributing factors. Learning about the condition can help you understand that they are suffering from a disease rather than merely being selfish or making bad choices, as well as that while family dynamics can sometimes play a part in triggering an addiction, you are not at fault for your loved one’s disease or for any of their choices.

You may be better able to help your loved one once you know more about the psychological and physical underpinnings of addiction, or at least to have a better idea of where they are coming from. Being educated about addiction will also allow you to better explain your loved one’s condition to others and to help push back against society-wide stigmatizing beliefs about the condition.

2. Don’t Let Healthy Habits Fall By The Wayside

Aside from the fact that you deserve self-care regardless of a loved one’s addiction, you will be of no use to them if you drive yourself to the point of a mental or physical breakdown. Though paying attention to even your basic needs can feel difficult or even selfish when your loved one may be going in and out of crisis, you should still make an effort not to let the stress drive you to adopt unhealthy habits.

Simple things like eating regular nutritious meals, getting enough sleep, and getting enough exercise are essential to keeping your mental and physical health on track. Since yoga has a meditative component, it may also be a particularly good choice as a stress relieving exercise break!

3. Set Clear Boundaries

As much as you want to be there for your loved one, there is only so much of yourself that you can give, and, taken to the extreme, your earnest attempts at help may actually enable them to continue in their unhealthy habits. It can be difficult to toe the line between wanting to make it clear that you still care and are not excommunicating them for their drug use and inadvertently playing a part in it, setting and holding yourself to clear boundaries when it comes to your loved one could be a great start.

For example, perhaps you will not take phone calls after a certain time, not allow the person in your home if they are intoxicated, or not provide them with money if they are likely to use it to fund drug use. Depending on the nature of relationship, at a certain point you may even want to consider withdrawing from it entirely for the sake of your mental health, painful as that may be, at least until they have committed to finding appropriate treatment.

4. Make Time To Connect And Destress

In order to maintain a healthy support system, it’s important that you not neglect other relationships in your life in favor of your relationship with an addict. Something as simple as scheduling a coffee date or movie night with a trusted friend could be a great way to destress and connect, ensuring that your loved one’s issues do not become all-consuming for you.

You may also find it helpful to begin attending a support group specifically for the loved ones of those struggling with addiction, where you will be able to build camaraderie and friendships with others in similar situations. In sharing your story and listening to the stories of others, you may be able to find not only commiseration but advice, empathy, and hope.

In the spirit of destressing, you may also find it useful to take up a relaxing hobby. Aside from exercise, pursuits like the creative arts, gardening, or baking can help keep you busy as a respite from your worries and elevate your mood and give you a sense of productivity even when matters with your loved one are not going as well as you have hoped. In the same vein, dedicating your time to some sort of charity project, maybe even one related to those struggling with addiction, may help you heal and give you a sense of purpose.

5. Seek Professional Guidance

A loved one’s addiction is liable to bring out all kinds of emotions in you—anger, depression, guilt, shame, fear—a lot for anyone to sort out! You may not be able to cope with it all on your own, and there’s no shame in that. Enlisting the help of a therapist can help you to work through your feelings and to learn coping skills with which you can better manage them, allowing you to maintain a sense of calm that will make you better able to handle stressors and to deal with your loved one even in intense circumstances.

There may be other cases in the course of a loved one’s addiction in which professional intervention becomes necessary. If matters get so extreme that you believe your loved one has become a danger to themselves but remains unwilling to seek treatment, you may find it beneficial to reach out to one of our skilled intervention counselors to help you get through to your loved one.

If an intervention is unsuccessful and the situation is severe enough to warrant it, they will also be able to help you through the process of filing a Marchman Act petition, which may allow for your loved one to be involuntarily committed to a rehabilitation facility. If this becomes the case, feel free to reach out to us any time at 833-497-3808 to learn more or to contact us using this form.

Understanding And Confronting Denial In Addiction

Suggesting to a loved one that they may need treatment for substance abuse is never an easy conversation. But it can be even harder if your loved one doesn’t even want to admit that they have a problem—in other words, if your loved one is in denial.

What is Denial?

Denial is a well-documented defense mechanism often seen in people who are in the grips of addiction. This mechanism is thought to occur mostly unconsciously, and to occur when someone feels unable to face the negative emotions that would ensue if they were able to face the full truth of their situation. 

When the full truth of their situation is a full-blown addiction to drugs or alcohol, it is easy to understand why these negative emotions might be too much to bear. This is because when someone who has regularly been numbing themselves with drugs or alcohol realizes and admits that they have a problem, they will have to face the fact that they have no other option than to get sober, which will cause them a great deal of anxiety and sadness if they feel that they do not know how to cope with life without using substances. 

Admitting that they have a drug problem may also invoke a great deal of shame, as they are essentially admitting that they have been unable to handle this problem on their own, which could be very threatening to their ego. It may also involve coming to grips with guilt as they face the full truth of the negative consequences that their addiction has caused. 

Signs of Denial/ Common Denial Tactics 

Denial of a substance abuse problem can take many different forms, but here is a list of some of the most common ways that an addict may try to deny that they have a problem.

1. Minimizing

An addict may point to the fact that they are still able to function, or that their problem isn’t as bad as it could be, as justification for why they do not have a problem or do not need treatment. 

E.g: “Lots of people drink everyday/use drugs sometimes. What’s the big deal? “

This minimization can extend to downplaying the risks and consequences of their continual drug use. E.g:

“It’s just a little DUI, I don’t know why you’re making such a big deal of it!”

“Yeah, I know that some people overdose on heroin, but that’s not going to happen to me.” 

2. Claiming Control

It may too threatening for a drug addict to admit they are not actually in control of their substance abuse even if this is the case. Thus, they may consistently claim that they can stop anytime they want to while demonstrating no ability to curb or set limits on their consumption.

One way that this might manifest is an addict pointing to the fact that they were able to go for a short period of time without using as evidence that they are fine while conveniently downplaying the fact that they went right back to their problematic habits afterward.

Or, they may point out to their ability to maintain certain limits, eg, “I never drink or use drugs while at work or while driving,” or “It isn’t as if I shoot up every day” as proof that they are in control when other aspects of their behavior show that this is not in fact the case.

3. Rationalizing

Someone who is exhibiting denial in the course of a substance abuse problem may also deny responsibility for their problem, or deny that their problem necessitates an intervention or treatment, rather than denying that they have a problem per se. 

For instance, they may point out the benefits their substance abuse gives them while ignoring all of the pitfalls. They might claim that they cannot stop using because drugs helps them to relax, socialize, or be more productive. They may also try to assert that they have no choice but to use drugs because they have a traumatic past or suffer from a mental illness. 

While these are potential factors in causing or reinforcing someone’s drug abuse that should be respected and taken seriously, they should always be addressed through appropriate mental health treatment or other healthier coping skills rather than used as by an addict as an excuse for continual drug abuse. 

Are You In Denial?

It’s also important to remember that the phenomenon of denial is in no way limited to people suffering from addiction. Denial as to the seriousness of the situation can also occur in the loved ones of someone who has a substance abuse problem.

It can be scary to admit to yourself that someone you care about has lost control of their use of drugs or alcohol, and, depending on your relationship to them, it might also bring up feelings of shame, guilt, or helplessness.

For instance, if your child or spouse is suffering from addiction, you may deny to yourself that they have a problem, or deny the seriousness of that problem, to avoid confronting issues in your relationship or the idea that you have been a bad parent or partner.

In truth, your loved one may be abusing drugs for all kinds of complicated reasons that have nothing to do with you, and the fact that you are committed enough to try to help them to be considering formal intervention services shows how much you actually care about their well-being.

The danger here, though, is that your denial will allow you to justify enabling behavior, which you might minimize or rationalize in much the same way the addict rationalizes their drug abuse. Helping an addict to function despite their serious substance abuse or even simply not intervening if they pose a clear danger to themselves or others could allow them to continue indefinitely on an incredibly destructive path.

What To Do If Someone Is In Denial

Denial is a relatively common stage in the process of coming to grips with an addiction problem, and the fact that your loved one is currently in denial in no way means they will be never be able to come to grips with their substance abuse and eventually achieve a full recovery. 

However, if you wait for them to reach that point on their own, the terrifying truth is that they may cause irreversible to damage to their health, invoke lifelong legal consequences, or, in the worst case scenario, lose their life to an overdose or an intoxication-related accident before they are ready to face their disorder on their own.

This is true even of an addict who does not deny that they have a problem but continually claims that they are going to get help “eventually” or “when they are ready” despite the fact that negative consequences are amassing in the meantime.

Thus, it may be necessary for you to confront them about their problem rather than wait for them to come to their senses. If you do go this route, try to approach them when they are in a calm, sober state rather than when they are intoxicated or emotional, and try to come at the matter from a reasoned, rational place rather than focusing on your own negative emotions or condemning the addict for their behavior. 

Instead of trying to invoke guilt or shame, emphasize the concrete proof that their behavior is out of control: for instance, you can try pointing out the number of alcoholic drinks they are having per day, or making a list of all of the negative consequences their drug addiction has caused them. Then, calmly explain why you are concerned and the risks that they face if they continue on their current path, and offer any emotional and practical support you can to help them in pursuing the appropriate treatment.

If this all seems a little overwhelming, you should also know that you don’t have to go at this alone. If you are worried about a loved one who is currently struggling with addiction, you could also enlist the help of one of our skilled intervention counselors to act as a buffer between  and to help you find the most effective way to convey your concern.

In extreme cases, if your loved one remains unresponsive and deep in denial even after a professionally guided confrontation, our intervention counselor will be able to guide you through the process of filing a Marchman Act petition.  

This Marchman Act petition will, if successful, require your loved one to be involuntarily committed to a drug treatment program, in which mental health professionals will be able to gradually chip away at their denial and help them find a path toward lasting sobriety. 

To learn more about the Marchman Act and how our skilled intervention services can help your loved one today, call us anytime at 833-497-3808 or contact us using this form.

Who Can File A Marchman Act?

If you’ve stumbled upon this site and read any of the other marvelous resources that we provide about Florida’s Marchman Act, you may already know that the statute allows for the involuntary commitment of someone whose impairment due to a substance use disorder has rendered them “unable to make rational decisions regarding treatment.” 

The Marchman Act also applies if someone who is impaired due to substance abuse has inflicted or attempted to inflict harm to themselves or to others. 

Now, there is a lot more fine print to the law than that, and its full text can be found on the official website for Florida’s legislature here if you’d like to look into the nitty gritty details.

But one thing that is relatively straightforward about the Marchman Act is the matter of who has the power to file it, and the thankfully short answer to that question is “almost anyone,” with a few notable qualifications. 

While you will have an easier time if you are the spouse, relative, or guardian of the person that you would like to enact a Marchman Act petition to protect, that is not the only way that the law offers concerned loved ones you to go about the matter.

If you have one of those first degree connections to the person who you seek to commit, you can serve as the sole petitioner for them, as can you if you are the parent, legal guardian, or legal custodian of a child under eighteen. 

But if you have some other relationship to the person you believe needs involuntary commitment due to their substance abuse, there’s no need to fear. Three unrelated adults who need not have any particular professional or personal association with the patient but who have “personal knowledge of a person’s substance abuse impairment,” can also file a Marchman Act petition. 


So, these three people could be friends, teachers, co-workers, non-spouse significant others, or really anyone to the patient, as long as all three are willing to go on the record and put in the work to testify as to the patient’s need for involuntary commitment due to their impairment from substance abuse. 


Medical professionals who have certain relationships to the patient who is impaired by substance abuse can also enact an emergency Marchman Act petition. These include the person’s therapist, their physician, or the director of a facility licensed under Chapter 397, Florida Statutes for the purposes of providing care and treatment for patients with substance abuse illnesses or his or her designee. 


Finally, a law enforcement officer who witnesses a patient exhibiting a need for substance abuse treatment “in a public place” or “in a way that attracts the officer’s attention,” can have them placed in protective custody for further evaluation under the Marchman Act. 


Calling law enforcement on someone who is behaving in this manner in the hopes of them initiating Marchman Act proceedings should be an absolute last resort, but, in certain cases, it may be an effective method of getting your loved one into treatment. 


In this sort of high stakes situation, it’s possible that the Baker Act may also apply. The Baker Act is another Florida statute dealing with involuntary commitment, but it generally covers a need for treatment relating to mental illness rather than relating to substance abuse. 


However, since mental illness and substance abuse can so often overlap, the Baker Act may sometimes be appropriate for someone whose impairment due to substance abuse has made them an immediate danger to themselves or others.


While a Baker Act can technically be filed directly to the court, it is much more commonly enacted by law enforcement officers, medical professionals, and mental health professionals who observe a patient’s potentially life threatening behavior. 


So, if you request the assistance of one of these professionals, most likely by calling emergency services, you may be able to play an important part in making them aware of the situation and ensuring that a Baker Act is enacted if it is necessary. 


Someone cannot be held under the Baker Act for as long as they can under the Marchman Act, but it could still be an important measure in keeping someone safe if they pose an immediate danger to themselves or others and an important first step in obtaining further treatment for them. 

If you have any questions about this information or about the Marchman or Baker Acts more generally, feel free to get in touch with one of our skilled intervention counselors. While there are never any guarantees in a situation as fraught as one that calls for the filing of a Marchman Act petition, we can guide you through the process to the best of our ability and give our all to ensure that you get the help you need. Call 833-497-3808 to learn more today.

How The Marchman Act Got Its Name

According to the dictionary, the word marchman means “a person living on the border territories.” At least in some vague metaphorical sense, one could see how that description applies to someone struggling with addiction, who is living on the outskirts of our reality, technically “here” but largely lost in their own world of substance abuse. 

But the Marchman Act is actually named after a specific person, and quite a colorful character at that. It’s the reverend Hal S. Marchman, who is known for the many years he spent as a chaplain for NASCAR as well as for his work in advocating for people who struggle with substance abuse.

Like many of the most admirable crusaders in the fight against addiction, Marchman drew inspiration from his own struggle with the disease. A book published about Marchman’s life, Shalom and Amen: The Life and Work of Hal Marchman, the Racers’ Preacher, itself gets its name from Marchman’s trademark ending to his prayers, which showcases his inclusivity and open-heartedness in its incorporation of both traditionally Christian and traditionally Jewish language.

According to Shalom, Marchman described himself as a “drunk in recovery” who became a role model for others and had over six decades of sobriety under his belt by the time he died in 2009. As an ahead-of-his-time advocate for “the community that lives on the streets,” Marchman also established various church programs and community treatment centers for alcoholics and drug addicts as well as his own Daytona Beach rehabilitation program, where his direct counsel helped inspire thousands in their recoveries.

That isn’t Marchman’s only legacy, though; his alma mater Stetson University has also named the Hal S. Marchman Program for Civic and Social Responsibility after the reverend. The school is admiring of his commitment to “bettering the lives of the marginalized and worked to help those with chemical dependencies and others who tend to be forgotten by society at large,” and names his life, work, and values inspirational. 

And then, of course, there’s the Marchman Act. From 1970 until 1993, Florida law actually had two separate statutes dealing with involuntary commitment, one that covered incapacitation related to alcohol abuse and another one that dealt with abuse of other drugs.

But given how often alcohol and drug abuse co-occur, and the potential for confusion due to slight differences in the terms of involuntary admission under each of the two laws, state legislator Steven Wise wrote a new statute that would apply in both circumstances to add some clarity to the proceedings.

Given Hal S. Marchman’s tireless advocacy for those struggling with addiction, he was an obvious choice to be honored as the law’s namesake, and given the many people that the Marchman Act has and will continue to help over the years, it’s a fitting honor and remembrance.

Since then, the Marchman Act has been altered slightly but remained fundamentally intact in providing a way that concerned loved ones can court-order involuntary commitment for someone who is incapacitated due to their substance use provided that certain conditions are met. 

And while ordering a loved one to get addiction treatment against their will is certainly never something to be taken lightly, Hal S. Marchman’s own story of recovery from addiction and the many he helped inspire remind us why it could be worth the struggle. With the right treatment, someone can be brought back from addiction’s dismal border territories and back into a life filled with hope and light. If you would like to learn more about how our skilled intervention counselors can guide you through the process of filing a Marchman Act petition, feel free to call us today at 833-497-3808. 




How The Tragic Story Behind Casey’s Law Illustrates The Need For The Marchman Act

While the Marchman Act, which allows for the involuntary commitment of someone who has lost their capacity to undertake the appropriate actions to procure treatment for their substance abuse by themselves, is specific to Florida, most other states in the USA have their own version of an involuntary commitment act. In fact, a full 46 of them do, and in Kentucky, Ohio, and Indiana, the law allowing for involuntary treatment to be court-ordered is called Casey’s Law. 


The law is named after Matthew “Casey” Wethington, an “energetic young man who enjoyed life until it was “taken” by drugs.” He lived a largely typical middle-class suburban life, enjoying pastimes like soccer, baseball, basketball, wrestling, collecting baseball cards, playing video games, playing the guitar, riding bikes, and skateboarding.


But, despite the fact that Casey’s parents wanted nothing more than to give him the ‘right’ to a life in recovery, they were unable to get their son to consent to treatment. Tragically, he passed away due to a heroin overdose on August 19, 2002, when he was only 23 years old.


His parents were determined to use their son’s story and legacy to ensure that no other parents would have to suffer the same fate, which led them to lobby for Casey’s Law, which was officially put on the books in Kentucky in 2004 and later expanded to Ohio and Indiana.


Casey’s parents suggest that enforced treatment would have been warranted because their son’s development was arrested at the age of fourteen or fifteen, when he started using drugs. While such an assertion is likely true, it’s also important to remember that even someone who became of legal age before they started abusing drugs could regress, under the influence, to a more immature and irrational mental state, clouded by disorientation and denial.


“Every effort to intervene on his disease was stymied because he was over the age of 18 and was not in the criminal justice system. I was told that “he has to want to lose enough and hit bottom.” That is contrary to the best practices for treatment of any other chronic, progressive, and potentially fatal disease. With other diseases, we know that the sooner the disease is recognized, the longer it’s treated, the better the chances for recovery,” Casey’s mother, Charlotte Wethington, poignantly writes on a website informing about Casey’s Law and Casey’s story. 


Her words do in fact have some significant academic evidence to back them up, with one study finding that involuntary forms of treatment actually produce greater adherence to treatment protocols because patients have an external reason not to drop out of treatment.


Though the statute was initially used sparingly, petitions filed under Casey’s Law have become more and more as the opioid epidemic has continued to take hold of the midwest. Casey’s parents also hope to further their son’s legacy by bringing Casey’s Law to even more states, and the process to enact is has already been started in West Virginia and in Georgia. 


To end this sad story on a more positive note, some of the stories of people suffering from addiction whose loved ones were forced to intervene using Casey’s law actually do have happier endings. Matt Peterson’s father Paul was at one point so worried about his son, who was sleeping in his car and subsisting entirely on heroin and stolen peanut M and M’s, that he stood in front of his son’s closet picking out burial clothes. 


But when after Paul and his wife were able to order Matt into involuntary treatment thanks to Casey’s Law, he was eventually able to recover, and has now been sober for more than six years.


In another memorable Casey’s Law story, a couple who credit treatment mandated by Casey’s Law with saving their lives actually gave their son the middle name “Casey” to honor the statute’s namesake. 


Using involuntary commitment acts like Casey’s Law or the Florida Marchman Act isn’t without its pitfalls, and it certainly isn’t easy. But as these stories attest, sometimes it is the best and only option when a loved one is severely incapacitated by substance abuse. 


So if you are a Florida resident who believes that someone you love is at risk of suffering the same tragic fate that befell Casey Wethington,  it may be time to consider using the Marchman Act. To learn more about the logistics of filing a Marchman Act petition and how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you through the process, please contact us anytime at 833-497-3808.



How Do I Know If My Loved One Is Abusing Drugs?

Nobody is happy to entertain the possibility that someone who they love has been abusing drugs. But if you fear that that unfortunate situation is a loved one’s reality, it may be your responsibility to determine whether your loved one has indeed been abusing substances and what action you now need to take to protect their safety and well-being.

Some signs of a substance use disorder are the same across different kinds of drugs. These signs of addiction include poor performance at school or work, unexplained personality changes or mood swings, sudden change in eating or sleeping patterns, unexplained weight loss, uncharacteristic secretiveness, and unexplained withdrawal from social life.

Other signs differ depending on the type of substance involved. For example, if someone is struggling with an addiction to a legal drug like alcohol or a medication that was initially prescribed to them, you may notice a pattern of escalating use, as a few drinks with dinner or an occasional Xanax to wind down gradually becomes a more constant intoxication. 

But if someone is abusing an illegal drug or a medication that was never prescribed to them, they are more likely to try to hide their drug use completely, especially if they suspect you will disapprove.

Other signs of drug abuse that can differ depending on what drug someone is abusing have more to do with the specific symptoms of intoxication that tend to occur with different drug types.

Classes Of Drugs And Common Symptoms

One type of commonly abused drugs are stimulants, a class which includes illegal drugs like cocaine and amphetamines as well as some prescription drugs commonly used in the treatment of ADHD, like Adderall, Ritalin, and Concerta.

Since these drugs rev up the nervous system, someone who is high on them will likely appear wired, restless, and hyperactive. They can appear more talkative, energetic, and confident than usual but can also display frightening psychological symptoms like aggression, paranoia, and loss of touch with reality. Stimulant use can also come with the risk of physical complications from overdose like seizures and heart failure.

Depressants are another class of drugs that can foster addiction that work in an almost opposite way, slowing down thought and bodily processes in a way that those who abuse them find relaxing. This category includes alcohol as well as some prescription drugs like benzodiazepines and opioid painkillers, plus some illegal drugs like heroin.

You’re probably familiar with the behavior of someone who is drunk, but someone who is using opiates or sedatives is likely to appear more zoned-out and lethargic, though also perhaps strangely euphoric. You also might notice dilated pupils, slower breathing, or slurred speech. If someone who you suspect has been abusing depressants appears unresponsive, you should seek medical attention immediately in case of an overdose.

Last but not least, there are hallucinogens, which tend to be less addictive than stimulants or depressants but can still indicate a serious substance problem. Some commonly abused hallucinogens include LSD, PCP, ketamine, and psilocybin. These drugs work by altering someone’s awareness of the world around them, either by causing a state of dissociation or by invoking hallucinations that take them into another world entirely.

You can recognize someone who is high on a hallucinogen if they appear to be seeing things that are not there, out of touch with or detached from reality, or speaking in a way that does not make sense. Depending on the drug used, they also may appear paranoid, aggressive, or even entirely immobilized. Some of these drugs also come with physical indicators, like an increased heart rate or dilated pupils.

It’s also worth noting that some drugs, like marijuana and ecstasy, have qualities of more than one “class,” as well as that many people who abuse substances have issues involving more than one drug, a condition known as “polydrug abuse.” 

Withdrawal from many of these drugs also comes with its own psychological side effects, like irritability, anxiety, or lethargy, that could be hard to differentiate from intoxication. Thus, any confusing mixture of symptoms that could potentially be attributed to substance abuse might be worth investigating further.  

However, it’s also important to remember that drug use is not the only possible explanation. Some mental illnesses, like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or even severe depression, could present similarly to abuse of certain substances. Either way, though, if your loved one is sufficiently incapacitated, they may need your help in obtaining appropriate treatment for their condition.

What To Watch Out For

Aside from the behavioral signs of drug abuse, you may be able to figure out that your loved one is abusing drugs if you catch them with the physical drugs themselves. Be on the lookout for strange powders, liquids, or substances, or perhaps for a baggies of unmarked pills or a pill bottle with someone else’s name on it. 

Your suspicions about your loved one’s drug abuse might also be given more credence if you find drug paraphernalia. Drugs that can be smoked could be indicated by the presence of rolling papers, lighters or pipes. And drugs that can be snorted might be signaled by the presence of rolled up dollar bills or straws to snort through, or a razor blade or credit card used to move powdered substances into lines.

For drugs that can be injected, besides the obvious syringes, you may also want to look for lighters and burnt spoons used to heat up substances before injection, or something that might have been used as a tourniquet to tie off an injection site, like a belt, rubber band, or shoelace. 

Snorting or smoking drugs can also cause upper respiratory symptoms that could be a tip-off to your loved one’s drug use. And the surest sign that someone has been injecting them is the presence of track marks, usually on the person’s non-dominant arm but occasionally on other body parts as well. Someone who is constantly wearing long sleeves, even in warm weather, may also be making an effort to cover up these marks. 

Some drugs also have a distinct smell, and you might notice either the scent itself or your loved ones’ efforts to disguise it; for example, an alcoholic might frequently chew gum or suck on mints to hide the stench of liquor on their breath. 

Help Your Loved One Using The Marchman Act

If you are able to ascertain that your loved one does indeed have a drug problem, your next move will depend on how severe the problem is and whether or not your loved one is willing to seek help themselves. But if they are not, and they are clearly causing serious harm to themselves, your hands are not tied.

Though such a measure should be a last resort given its potential to cause lasting damage to you and your loved ones’ relationship, the Marchman Act is a Florida statute that allows for someone whose substance abuse has made them a danger to themselves or others to be involuntarily committed to a treatment program. To learn more about filing the Marchman Act and how one of our skilled intervention counselors can help you through the process, feel free to contact us anytime at 833-497-3808.

Suicide, Substance Abuse, And The Marchman Act

If you are considering using the Marchman Act, a Florida statute that allows concerned loved ones to file a petition for someone who is struggling with alcohol or drug abuse to undergo involuntary assessment and treatment, a person that you care about is probably in dire straits. And since September is Suicide Awareness Month, there’s no better time to look into the connection between substance abuse and suicide and how you can use the legal system to help someone who may be a danger to themselves. 

The good news, insofar as there is any silver lining to be found in a situation this unpleasant for all involved, is that someone who has expressed their intentions to commit suicide or even attempted it has made the fact that they are a danger to themselves immediately obvious. 

However, though substance abuse and other mental health issues often co-ocur, a suicidal threat or gesture would probably mean that the Baker Act, another Florida law that is meant to allow for the involuntary treatment of individuals who are experiencing mental health crises, may be more applicable to your loved one’s situation than would the Marchman Act. 

Under the Baker Act, one can commit a person who:

  • is refusing examination or can’t determine if they need an examination
  • Shows a strong likelihood that they will harm themselves by neglecting or refusing to take care of themselves
  • Shows a strong likelihood that they will cause harm to themselves or others

Though both acts allow someone to be held for up to 72 hours for an assessment to determine whether further treatment is needed, the Marchman Act instead applies to someone who:

  • has lost the power of self-control over their substance abuse
  • does not appreciate their own need for help and cannot make rational decisions regarding their care as a result of their substance abuse
  • has become a danger to themselves or others.

However, the strong connection between suicide and substance abuse means that forcing your loved one into treatment under the Marchman Act may end up saving their life in the long run. Statistics show that suicide is six times more common in people suffering from a substance abuse disorder than it is in the general population, as well as that as many as twenty-five percent of alcoholics and drug addicts may eventually go on to commit suicide. 

People who are suffering from addiction also often have underlying mental health conditions, conditions that can predispose them to suicidal ideation as well and that are almost certainly going untreated if you believe that their situation is severe enough to warrant the Marchman Act. 

Someone who is self-medicating a mental health disorder with their drug of abuse may be particularly resistant to treatment, because they fear that the symptoms they have been suppressing with substances will return if they stop using. 

However, if you are able to enroll your loved one in a treatment program, even if you have to do so against their will, it will likely be able to help them address their underlying issues as well as their substance abuse, thus laying the groundwork for them to achieve a lasting recovery. 

Thinking about the connection between addiction and suicide also underscores ther urgency of convincing your loved one to seek help. Addiction can often be a progressive disease, so allowing someone you love to continue in their downward spiral of drug use may result in them becoming suicidal down the line as they become more desperate, more hopeless, and lose ever more resources and connections that could help them reestablish a healthy, sober life.

Both the Baker Act and the Marchman Act can be used to help you get your loved ones the help they need, and you can always reach out to a professional to help you determine which of these two acts is applicable to your situation and how you should proceed. 

Because the Baker Act is easier to file, it would likely be more appropriate in an emergency situation, requiring only a mental health, medical or law enforcement professional to co-sign rather than the extensive petition process required to file a successful Marchman Act claim. 

However, the Baker Act also comes with the downside of only ensuring a 72 hour psych hold as opposed to a longer period of treatment that could be required if someone who is detained under the Marchman Act is determined to be a danger to themselves due to their addiction in their initial evaluation. 

In the meantime, if you are worried your loved one may be suicidal but don’t feel you yet have the evidence to file a successful Marchman Act or Baker Act claim, there are other steps you can take to keep your loved one safe. 

Be alert to signs of an intentional overdose and to the presence of any potential lethal methods your loved one may use to end their life, and to expressions of hopelessness, out of character behavior, and someone who seems to be getting their affairs in order without another logical explanation for doing so.

Suicidal ideation or threats should always be taken seriously, and that you can always reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or your local emergency services for help dealing with an acute suicidal crisis in yourself or a loved one. And to learn more about the Marchman Act and how our skilled intervention counselors can help you procure treatment for someone whom you care about, call 833-497-3808.