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.