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Can You Force Someone to Go to Rehab in Florida?

Denial is a common trait exhibited by people who suffer from addiction. Even when a person’s entire family and friend group express their concern, an individual may still be unwilling to admit they have a problem with drugs or alcohol. The outcome of this denial is a reluctance to accept professional help in the form of addiction treatment. 

If someone you care about is struggling with addiction and refusing to get help, you may begin to explore alternative options such as interventions or involuntary commitment. Fortunately, the state of Florida is unique in that they have a specific law designed to allow friends and family members to force someone to go to rehab. This law is called the Marchman Act.

What is the Marchman Act?

The Florida Marchman Act, formally known as Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act, is a statute that allows qualifying individuals to force people they love into a substance abuse treatment facility. It allows family members to petition the court to admit a person to a treatment facility against his or her will.[1] Ultimately, this act allows friends and family members to accomplish court-ordered rehab and other medical services in the event that a person is unwilling to get necessary help themselves.

Does My Loved One Qualify for The Marchman Act?

Before you can force someone to go to rehab in Florida, you must make sure the individual qualifies for the Marchman Act. Unfortunately, refusal to get help does not constitute court-ordered rehab on its own. Instead, individuals must meet one of the following three criteria:

  • Your loved one has lost the power to control his or her substance use and can benefit from professional help
  • The person in question has inflicted, attempted to inflict, or threatened to cause any type of physical harm to themselves or another person
  • Your loved one needs treatment but is mentally impaired to the point where he or she cannot make a sound or rational decision based on that specific need

If your loved one meets one or more of the above criteria, you may begin the process of involuntary commitment by petitioning the court. In order to file a petition, you need a spouse, guardian, relative, or any other three adults with knowledge of the person’s substance abuse.

Florida Residency Requirements

The Marchman Act is a state law that only allows people to force someone to go to rehab in the state of Florida. However, an individual does not have to be a Florida resident in order to qualify for court-ordered rehab. Anyone who is in the state and qualifies for involuntary commitment can be subject to the Marchman Act. The flexibility when it comes to residency requirements can help people from all across the United States get the help they desperately need.

Do I Need a Lawyer to Force My Loved One to Go to Rehab in Florida?

Even when legal provisions allow you to accomplish essential tasks, people may hesitate because they are fearful of the cost of hiring an attorney. Fortunately, Florida does not require you to have an attorney to petition the court for the Marchman Act. All you need is three adults with first-hand knowledge of the person’s addiction.

With that being said, the expert guidance of a lawyer can improve your chances of successfully getting your loved one into a treatment program. A lawyer can help you understand the ins and outs of this complex civil procedure. For example, some Marchman Act petitions are denied because families do not have the right evidence. A lawyer will make sure you have your evidence lined up before your court hearing to ensure your success.

Another reason to consider hiring an attorney is that your loved one who you are trying to force into rehab has a right to a fair trial, so he or she will be appointed an attorney by the court.[2] This attorney’s job is to help the individual achieve a case dismissal and avoid going to rehab. Having an attorney on your side can help you win the battle.

Other Methods of Involuntary Commitment in Florida

The Marchman Act is the most commonly used civil procedure to force individuals to go to rehab in Florida because it was created specifically for individuals struggling with substance abuse.[3] However, there are other ways to achieve court-ordered rehab for a loved one. These include:

  • General Involuntary Admission – A person may be admitted to rehab if there is reason to believe they are impaired and have a problem with drugs or alcohol.
  • Protective Custody Procedure – While not considered an arrest, this involves a police officer escorting an individual to treatment if he or she meets the criteria for involuntary admission.
  • Physician’s Certificate Procedure – A physician who has examined an individual and believes he or she needs treatment may complete a certificate that is filed with the Marchman Act stating a person needs help.
  • Emergency Admission Procedure – When in the event of an emergency, one individual with knowledge of a person’s substance abuse may file for Emergency Admission Procedure to force their loved one to go to rehab.
  • Extension of Involuntary Treatment – If a person has already been subject to the Marchman Act and needs further treatment, service providers can file a new petition to extend treatment before the initial order expires.

Find Help for an Addicted Loved One Today

Addiction is a painful and devastating condition that affects everyone close to the individual who is suffering. If your loved one is hooked on drugs and alcohol and refusing to get help, your next step may be trying to force them to go to rehab in Florida.

Whether you are interested in learning more about involuntary commitment, interventions, or your treatment options in West Palm Beach, our dedicated admissions counselors are standing by ready to take your call. Don’t wait any longer. Call now.


  1. pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih
  3. marchmanactflorida

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