The Florida Marchman Act and Addiction Treatment

The Florida Marchman Act and Addiction Treatment
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The Hal. S. Marchman Alcohol and other Drug Service Act of 1993, often simply called the “Marchman Act,” is a legislative act that provides intervention, detention, and assistance for individuals struggling with drug and alcohol abuse. The Marchman Act forces an individual located in Florida into addiction treatment.

A court order for treatment is issued following a petition filed by a person, recognized as a person who in good faith, that possesses knowledge of an individual that has lost control over their addiction and poses a threat to themselves or others. The individual in need of treatment must also lack the ability to make rational decisions about treatment for their addiction. After the court order is officially issued, the impaired person must complete an involuntary assessment in five days or less. Once complete, a judge reviews the findings and can order an individual into an addiction treatment program, sometimes for up to 60-90 days.

There are designated attorneys that can file the Marchman Act for you and see that placement into an addiction treatment program is successful.  Joe Considine, Esq. is a distinguished Marchman Act attorney that serves the South Florida area. Practicing since 1983, Joe has helped hundreds of families in need of addiction and mental health intervention through the utilization of the Marchman Act. If you would like to inquire about filing a Marchman Act case with Joe, please visit his website at

A few frequently asked questions answered by Joe Considine Esq. about Florida’s Marchman Act:


  1. Does the potential individual or someone in the family have to be a resident of Florida to get a court for order an assessment of the individual who is suffering from Substance Use Disorder, with the goal of “triggering” a Marchman Act?

The substance abuser does not have to be a resident of Florida. It is enough that the individual is living, even temporarily, in the state. Moreover, the family need not be Florida residents either. Many of our clients are out of state families who are able to suggest to their loved one that they visit Florida under the suggestion that they investigate treatment centers or just to enjoy our beaches and weather. Once the individual is in Florida for whatever reason, the family or friend can file the Marchman Act papers and the Court can enter an order.


  1. How difficult is it to receive this assessment order and what needs to be proved to warrant issuing the Marchman Act?

It is not difficult to obtain such an assessment order. There has to be a “good faith” reason to believe that the person is substance abuse impaired or has a co-occurring mental health disorder and because of the impairment or disorder:

 1) The person lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse or the person needs substance abuse services because his judgment has been so impaired that he is incapable of appreciating his need for such services and of making a rational decision about services; or

2)  Without help, will the person likely suffer from neglect or refusal to care for himself which poses a real threat of substantial harm.

For most people who have been abusing substances for any length of time, the above criteria is not difficult to establish to the Court in order to obtain an order for the assessment and detox.


  1. Doesn’t having an individual committed through the Marchman Act take away their personal commitment to treatment and desire to recover? In other words don’t they have to reach that “Rock Bottom” point to where treatment is truly effective?

We must re-evaluate the belief that no one gets sober until unless they want to. This belief has to be scrutinized especially in the context of the staggering number of deaths brought about by the opioid epidemic.  Can we afford to wait for the addict to want to get clean?  This new thinking is supported by science. There are many studies that demonstrate that Court-ordered treatment is at least as effective, if not more effective, than voluntary treatment.

United States Surgeon General Vivek Murthy and mental health professionals tell us that addiction is a disease of the brain. The addict’s dopamine receptors are so highly and persistently stimulated by the use of substances that they stunt the executive decision-making function of the prefrontal cortex (the part that tells the addict to stop using).

It can take 12-18 months of abstinence for the creation of healthy neuropathways and for dopamine receptors to “quiet down” so that the usual pleasures of life – a beautiful sunset, a baby cooing, exercise, and tasty food – are satisfying.

In my law practice, I see the effects of court-ordered moderate and longer-term treatment upon individual substance abusers who wanted no part of treatment and had to be compelled to treatment by the court. In many instances, these people know their lives are a mess and they do not like what they are doing to themselves but they could not imagine life without substances – their best friend. Often, in many instances, we see the person weeks later with a much healthier attitude and appearance than the person we first dragged into court. They are grateful that their families stood up for them.


  1. Won’t having my loved one committed to treatment via Marchman Act threaten our relationship or damage any trust we have left remaining between us?

I was very impressed by the comments of a client, the words of a father, who filed the case notwithstanding that his daughter would be very angry with him.  He remarked to me “I want to know that if her substance abuse kills her, I did everything possible to get her help.”

Some family members will love the substance abuser right into a grave.  Family members worry that the addict will be upset with them for taking action to save the addict’s lives.  In some instances, family members think that the addict can be reasoned with to go to treatment.  These concerned friends and family need to know that the executive decision making part of the brain of the addict is not working and that the family member/friend needs to act in the best interest of the substance abuser by having them court-ordered to treatment. 

They also need to know that once the addict in treatment for a period of time, in many cases, they are relieved and grateful that the loved ones had the courage to act on their behalf.


Lifeskills South Florida is one of the most distinguished drug rehabs in the Fort Lauderdale area with our accreditation to effectively treat both addiction and common mental health disorders. We currently offer treatment services in both residential and outpatient settings and offer a clinical track for addiction. To learn more about the enrollment process, please contact us.





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