Substance Use

Marchman Act: What Is It and Which States?

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The Marchman Act of Florida

The Marchman Act is a Florida law supporting the voluntary and involuntary assessment/stabilization of someone struggling with substance abuse. This Act was developed to help people get the help they need when they refuse to seek it themselves. People can file a petition on behalf of someone in need, and the Marchman Act could potentially save their lives. While this law is unique to Florida, most other states share similar laws. 

If you or your loved one have lost control over drugs or alcohol, Zinnia Health can help. We offer many levels of care within comprehensive, personalized treatment programs. Please call our treatment hotline staffed with compassionate substance use professionals at (855) 430-9439.

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What Is the Marchman Act?

If you live in Florida, knowing about chapter 397 of the Florida Statutes could save your loved one’s life. Known as the Marchman Act, this legislation was put into effect in 1993 as a means of achieving court-mandated, involuntary rehabilitation.

The Marchman Act, also known as the Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Services Act of 1993, is a Florida Statute best known for its impact on those who are abusing drugs or alcohol — and are at risk of harming themselves or others.

This unique law allows family members to petition the courts as they seek mandatory assessment and treatment of a severe substance abuse disorder. 

Much like the Baker Act, which focuses on helping those who need mental health support, this Act aims to protect patients and the public. Many loved ones unsuccessfully convince those suffering from addiction to get help.

While the state recommends consulting an interventionist first, that’s not always an option if an individual is high-risk — for example, threatening to harm themselves or others. 

So, the Marchman Act is typically implemented when an individual abusing drugs or alcohol has lost self-control. It’s a law that helps families navigate through the court system to get loved ones into a court-ordered assessment, detox, or long-term treatment program when they refuse treatment. 

Do You Have To Be a Family Member To File a Petition?

A spouse or blood relative can file a petition. However, this Act does not limit its services to immediate family.

Since some individuals do not have any family, the court also allows three people who have direct knowledge of a person’s substance abuse to file. The person petitioning can also be a licensed practitioner or licensed provider. 

What States Have Marchman Acts?

The Marchman Act is specific to Florida. However, most states have created similar laws across the nation. 

These statutes overlap in many ways. Each statute has its own criteria, but there are many overarching similarities.

For example, an individual must:

  • Be a danger to themselves or others
  • Showcase grave disability 
  • Lack the decision-making capacity to seek help or make rational decisions
  • Have lost the ability to care for their basic needs
  • Have lost control over their drug addiction or alcohol addiction

Example Statutes Across the United States 

Most states do not have dedicated names for their involuntary commitment laws — although they largely overlap with the Marchman Act. However, a few laws are dedicated to specific individuals, like Casey’s Law and Ricky’s Law.

  • Alaska: Alaska Stat. § 47.37.190 allows individuals to petition a court for a 30-day involuntary commitment order for someone addicted to drugs or alcohol and presents physical harm.
  • California: Cal. Welf. & Inst. Code Ann. §5201 allows family members, doctors, and guardians to apply for involuntary treatment. The individuals must suffer from a substance abuse disorder and pose a danger to themselves or others. 
  • Kentucky & Ohio: Casey’s Law is named after Matthew Casey Wethington, who died at the age of 22 from a heroin overdose. This law offers a means to intervene with someone who does not recognize the level of harm they are causing to themselves or others. 
  • New York: Kendra’s Law provides options for court-ordered assisted outpatient addiction treatment programs. This law focuses on substance abuse issues and the mental health crisis. 
  • Washington: Ricky’s Law, or the Involuntary Treatment Act (ITA), allows for involuntary commitment for substance abuse. 

As of this writing, 37 states and the District of Columbia have laws for involuntary commitment of individuals with a substance abuse disorder. Learn more about the options available in your state

If you are ready to seek help or support as a loved one, Zinnia Health has professional substance abuse treatment facilities nationwide. Call us at (855) 430-9439 for the next steps. Detox, inpatient, and outpatient programs are available. 

The History of the Marchman Act

Rev. Hal. S Marchman is the individual who the Marchman Act is named after. Rev. Marchman was a preacher, a tireless advocate for the disadvantaged, and someone who suffered from substance abuse.

He played a monumental role in this Act, which continues to save countless lives. Considering the state of Florida is second in the nation for most overdose deaths, involuntary petitions could mean the difference between life and death.

Before 1993, substance use disorder cases were addressed via chapters 396 and 397. These chapters distinctly separated drug dependency and alcoholism.

Under the Florida Marchman Act, substance use disorder is used when referencing alcoholism or drug abuse. While the Act has changed over the years, its intent remains the same — protect an addicted person who meets the Marchman Act criteria with the support of the court system. 

What’s the Difference Between the Baker Act and Marchman Act?

The Baker Act was first passed in 1971 and primarily focuses on cases involving mental health concerns. The Marchman Act wasn’t passed until decades later and applies primarily to substance use disorders. 

Both of these Acts intend to protect those suffering from a mental illness or substance abuse disorder and allow for involuntary commitment. The Marchman Act involves an initial assessment order of up to five days and successive substance abuse treatment of up to 60 days.

In contrast, the Baker Act is used to commit individuals to a mental health facility for up to 72 hours — particularly when they appear dangerous to themselves and those around them. 

Zinnia Health Can Help

No one should have to suffer from the grips of substance use disorder — and neither should their loved ones. Addiction is a family disease, so the Marchman Act is important. It helps families who feel like they are out of options to heal. Family therapy is just one option at Zinnia Health treatment centers, providing support for everyone involved. 

Zinnia Health is helping people regain control of their lives. Please look at the array of evidence-based treatment options we provide and call our dedicated team at (855) 430-9439 when you’re ready to take the next step. We have helped thousands heal for good — we’re here to help you, too. 

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