Author: Justin Mckibben
Sometimes new policy can be good. Sometimes, not so much.
The opiate epidemic in America has hit some states with staggering rates of overdose and death. The paralyzing truth gripping the nation today is that more people are dying from drug overdose than homicides and car crashes. Heroin, fentanyl and prescription painkillers collectively decimate entire communities. People from all over are starting to push officials and lawmakers for more progressive and effective solutions.
Addiction has led to an overdose outbreak that shakes the country to the core, everywhere. Now, Florida lawmakers are pushing for new legislation to try and protect and serve those who suffer from an overdose. One of the first bills on the 2017 agenda is one that hopes to change how law enforcement treats overdose victims.
Although, another bill is trying to turn things in a very different direction.
Florida HB 61 Bill
Florida Representative Larry Lee, a Democrat from Port St. Lucie, has filed a proposal titled HB 61. If approved, this piece of reform would require several new policies for healthcare providers, starting with hospitals.
- It would require hospitals to screen overdose victims to determine the need for additional health care services
- Prohibits hospitals from discharging overdose patients to a detox or treatment facility until stabilized
- Requires attending physician to attempt contact with patients primary care physician, or other treatment providers, who prescribe controlled substances to notify them of overdose
- Requires hospital to inform medical director of treatment center (if patient is currently in treatment) of the overdose
- Hospital must inform overdose victim’s family or emergency contact of overdose
- Must inform contacts what drugs they suspect to have caused overdose
- Attending physician must provide list of drug treatment providers and information about Florida’s Marchman act and Backer act in case the family or contact wishes to seek legal action to protect the addict
The Big Change in HB 61
Lastly, what is probably the most progressive part of this legislation, is the HB 61 bill would prohibit criminal charges from police officers and prosecutors against the overdose victim for possession of any drugs found on them during the incident.
This final aspect of HB 61 this writer thinks is a big deal, because from personal experience I have seen and heard many stories of individuals not calling for help in the event of an overdose out of fear of prosecution. In some cases people actually die because of the fear of criminal punishment. Adding this kind of measure to the bill is an attempt at eliminating the loss of life due to fear of discrimination. Even if it is not a perfect system, this kind of reform takes first responders and law enforcement a step closer to dealing with addicts who are fighting a fatal illness like sick people instead of criminals.
Florida SB 150 Bill Attacks Fentanyl
From across the aisle we see another push from Republican Senator Greg Steube from Sarasota. The question is, will this push go in the right direction? On December 12, he introduced bill SB 150. This is set to be a direct attack on fentanyl.
For those who are not yet familiar, fentanyl is an incredibly powerful, and lethal, opioid painkiller. It’s medical use is to sedate surgical patients and relieve chronic pain. However, being several times more powerful than heroin, it has crept into the illicit drug trade in various parts of the country. And with its arrival also came a horrifying increase in overdose and death.
This proposal means to make 4 grams or more of fentanyl a first-degree felony through:
November 20, the Palm Beach Post released an analysis of people who died in 2015 from heroin-related overdoses. Out of the 216 individuals profiled in this report, 42% of the cases were found to involve fentanyl. So of course, with Steube coming from a district hit particularly hard by the opiate epidemic, it is logical to want to do everything you can to cut the flow of fentanyl off.
Yet, some say that this kind of strategy is too close to the concept of mandatory minimums.
Is SB 150 Too Close to Mandatory Minimums?
For those who need more clarification, mandatory minimum sentencing laws were a “one-size-fits-all” strategy implemented originally back in 1951 against marijuana, then repealed in the 1970s, and refined in 1986. In 1973, New York State enacted mandatory minimums of 15 years to life for possession of more than 4 ounces of any hard drug.
The idea is that regardless of the individual or the circumstances that a certain crime will have an inflexible punishment across the board. Ever since their introduction, criminal justice advocates have fought these laws, and they have always been surrounded by debate and controversy.
Essentially, some are already saying that SB 150 will ruthlessly make addicts into victims of the already overpopulated prison system. To be clear and fair- the bill does not seem to directly require a specific prison sentence like mandatory minimums, but it’s similar in that it treats every issue related to fentanyl the same.
The issue has already been argued time and time again that non-violent low-level drug offenders have spent excessive amounts of time in prison for possession of a substance. In some cases, an individual will do more time behind bars for possessing a large quantity of drugs than someone who has actually killed someone. Some have come to the conclusion that this tactic just doesn’t work.
The fear with SB 150 is not about the manufacturers or the dealers as much as it is for the consumers. Sometimes individuals purchase drugs on the street believing it to be heroin or another substance without even knowing there is fentanyl in it. So this bill would make first-degree felons out of desperate addicts?
What is Right?
The big question we all face at the end of the day is- what is the right thing to do? How is the best way to handle something that feels so utterly out of hand?
Well, it would seem like its time to finally let go of the archaic stigma. More states and law enforcement officials are turning to compassionate and supportive progress. Many places in America are starting to do everything they can to help people struggling with addiction to find help before it is too late. So why move backwards?
In my opinion, strictly based on what has been presented so far, SB 150 seems dangerous. There are countless advocates out there who say that intensifying the punishment is not how you deter the crime. Especially when it comes to addiction, because this kind of method still suggests it is a moral failing and not a psychological and physical illness.
HB 61 seems to be trying to call health care providers to action and add more accountability on the front lines in the fight against the overdose outbreak. At the same time it seems to move in the opposite direction of SB 150 by trying to limit the persecution of addicts. HB 61 makes more room to help preserve life and offer treatment and solutions. By now we should already know, the solution isn’t a War on Drugs, it is community and compassion.
These are some of the initial responses to recommendations recently made by the grand jury. Every day there are countless people suffering. And every day there are countless more recovering and fighting to help others recover. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now. We want to help. You are not alone.
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Can I force my child to get drug treatment is the question many parents ask when their loved one that is abusing drugs is absolutely refusing and unwilling to seek help for themselves. It is scary to have a child that is using drugs and drinking dangerously and won’t help themselves. A parent feels as if it is their job to protect their children from pretty much everything. So what can you do as a parent if you have a child who is bad off on drugs and alcohol and won’t go to rehab? Luckily, there are things in place for just this scenario and you can force rehab if it is absolutely necessary. The hope, to force rehab is that the person once they get to rehab would give it a try.
Force rehab with an intervention:
If your child refuses to go to rehab and you must force rehab then staging an intervention may be a way to make that person understand that people care and that their behavior is hurting themselves and the other people around them that they love. Conveniently enough there are people who specialize in helping you stage an intervention with your child to force rehab. It is not recommended that you try to force rehab with an intervention on your own. An intervention is usually a surprise to the person and themore people who are close to that person who can tell him or her how they feel about their drug use and drinking the better because the more it can force rehab with that person. The goal is to show the person how much you care and that they need to get help through a rehab facility.
Force rehab with the Baker act:
If a person is over eighteen that is when the Baker Act would want to be used. If the person you are trying to force rehab with was under eighteen you could simply make them go. Unfortunately if they are over 18 they have a say in the matter and that’s where the Baker Act comes in. The Baker Act or the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971, allows for involuntary examination (what some call emergency or involuntary commitment). It can be initiated by judges, law enforcement officials, physicians, or mental health professionals. There must be evidence that the person:
- Has a mental illness (as defined in the Baker Act)
- Is a harm to self, harm to others, or self-neglectful (as defined in the Baker Act)
Force rehab with the Marchman Act:
The Marchman Act is somewhat similar to the Baker Act (involuntary commitment) and is especially helpful for those individuals who are over the age of 18 and don’t want to seek out help through a rehab on their own. Forcing rehab with the Marchman Act allows you to put an individual in rehab for up to 48 hours without any mental illness or other issues and the hold is usually released after the 48 hours is up unless the person asks for help themselves at that time. Each state has varying laws when it comes to the Marchman Act so if you want to use this to force rehab check out your state’s laws.
If you want to force rehab realize that it may be unrealistic to expect your child to get well. Most addicts and alcoholics have to want help in order to get sober and stay sober. There are many instances though where parents force rehab and the child goes on to live a happy and fulfilling life. In fact if the parents hadn’t forced rehab they may not even be alive today. So if you feel it is necessary never hesitate to force rehab it could save your loved one’s life.
For more information on how to stage an intervention or how to use the Florida Baker Act or Marchman Act to force your loved one to get drug treatment, please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
Getting someone psychiatric help is an emotional and stomach turning thing to do but sometimes it is for their own good and it must be done. The procedure for getting some psychiatric help varies from state to state but in general an involuntary commitment is done by a doctor, therapist, and/or court. In many cases getting someone psychiatric help through an involuntary commitment is done after they have done something that makes them a danger to themselves or others. It is not easy but sometimes getting someone psychiatric help is absolutely necessary.
For psychiatric help that is involuntary
If you feel that a person is an immediate danger to themselves or to others then dial 991 and get emergency assistance. It’s better to be safe now than sorry later. Calling the police or emergency services on a loved one can be a very tough thing to do but it’s important to know that you are not doing it to hurt them. You have to emotionally detach yourself from the situation at hand and think of their safety and the safety of other people.
Someone who is in danger of seriously injuring themselves or another because they are not in a stable mindset is not their fault. They need someone to intervene and sometimes that person is going to have to be you. Although it may not sound ideal at the time having phoned for emergency help can you later on in court if and when you need to show proof as to why this person needs to be monitored and evaluated by a mental health professional.
If you are in Florida you have the Florida Marchman Act and the Florida Baker Act on your side.
What is the Florida Marchman Act?
A Marchman Act is a means of providing an individual in need of substance abuse services with emergency services and temporary detention for substance abuse evaluation and treatment when required, either on a voluntary or involuntary basis.
What is the Florida Baker Act?
The Florida Baker Act is actually the Florida Mental Health Act of 1971. The Florida Baker Act allows for involuntary examination or what some know it as, involuntary commitment. The Florida Baker Act can be initiated by judges, law enforcement, physicians or mental health professionals. In order for an individual to have the Florida Baker Act initiated on them there must be proof that the person has a mental illness or is a danger to themselves, a danger to others or is self-neglectful.
Other Options for Involuntary Psychiatric Care…
- Visit your city or county courthouse to get someone psychiatric help. This will need to be done in the district where the person you want to commit to psychiatric help, lives. Ask the clerk of court for the right papers and application papers. Fill those out.
- Attend the hearing. If there is not a reason for immediate involuntary commitment a hearing will because the judge will make the final decision based on the evidence. Once all the papers are filed you will have little say in what happens to the person you are trying to get psychiatric help for. You may be asked to testify in the hearing as well.
- Be prepared for problems. The person you are trying to get psychiatric help for may be very upset with being placed in a mental institution. If the person you are trying to get psychiatric help doesn’t immediately get into the mental institution and you feel like you are in danger then have a restraining order put in place. If they violate that you can then call the police and have the mental health professionals act enforced.
For voluntary psychiatric help
Psychiatric help can come in the form of inpatient treatment in a mental health facility, outpatient programs and/or groups with a therapist. The hardest parts about getting someone psychiatric help is convincing the person that they need help. Many times individuals do not feel that they need help, are aggressively against the idea or some are incapable of understanding what is going on.
Either way, if you are trying to get someone psychiatric help make sure that you:
- Tell them that you love them and support them.
- Educate yourself on their illness.
- Drive them to appointments.
- Find them psychiatric help.
- Make sure they have their medications.
- Make sure they are talking to their doctor and/or therapist.
- Make sure they are doing ok.
- Offer to help them where and when you can.
And last but not least if you are looking to get psychiatric help for someone else you must also get help for yourself. It’s hard to be there for a sick person and remain level headed. It can stress you out and be very hard on you – emotionally, physically, financially, socially, etc.
If your loved one is in need of alcohol or drug addiction treatment please give us a call at 800-951-6135.
How can I use the Marchman Act to help my loved one?
The Marchman Act is a way for family and loved one’s to help someone, struggling with addiction, who cannot help themselves. A Marchman Act is a legal means of providing an individual in need of drug treatment, drug alcohol detox, or a medical/mental facility with emergency services and temporary detention for substance abuse evaluation and treatment when required either on an involuntary or voluntary basis.
How can I use the Marchman Act to help my loved one who’s struggling with addiction?
It is very easy for the person struggling with addiction to find multiple reasons why they don’t want or need to go to treatment; it is also easy for that person to lose the mental capacity to make healthy decisions for themselves even if it means they may die; that’s where the Marchman Act comes into play. The Marchman Act helps your loved one receive emergency treatment whether they want substance abuse treatment for their addiction or not. Regardless if the loved one struggling with addiction think they need substance abuse the Marchman Act allows the family and friends to find help for that person and make sure they utilize it. The Marchman Act is legal process that consists of different steps but it is easily utilized when someone is in desperate need of drug treatment, drug alcohol detox, or a medical/mental facility. The Marchman Act is meant to help your loved one struggling with addiction.
How does the Marchman Act work?
An involuntary admission through use of the Marchman act to help your loved one struggling with addiction can be one of the greatest gifts you ever give them even if they don’t see it initially. An involuntary admission is when there is good faith and reason to believe the person is substance abuse impaired and, because of said impairment, has lost the power of self-control over their substance use; either has inflicted, attempted or threatened to inflict or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself or herself or another person; or the persons judgment has been so impaired because of substance abuse that he/she is incapable of appreciating the need for substance abuse treatment. After a Marchman act has been put in place it will be used to help your loved one through the legal process that goes along with it.
Who has permission to enforce a Marchman Act?
A law enforcement officer may also take your loved one into protective custody until your loved one appears to meet the admission criteria and is brought to the attention of law enforcement officer in a public place. A law enforcement officer has the authority to implement the Marchman Act or protective custody. Also a private practitioner, the persons spouse or relative of the person, the director of a licensed service provider or the directors designee, 3 responsible adults who have personal knowledge of the persons substance abuse problem or, in the case of a minor, the minor’s parents, legal guardian, legal custodian, or a licensed service provider can file an involuntary Marchman Act petition.
If you have personal knowledge of a person’s substance abuse problem and because of this impairment the person has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse, drinking and drugging; and you have reason to believe that that person is a danger to him/herself or others you may file a Marchman Act petition which you can use to help your loved one struggling with addiction. If you’d like to know how Palm Partners can help you in the process of a Marchman Act for your loved one please give our 24-hour crisis counselors a call at 800-951-6135.
Palm Partners can help the addict or alcohol suffering from alcoholism and addiction understand the specifics of their disease but we can also help those of us looking for help understanding a wide range of issues, ideas, and aspects of addiction and alcoholism. Palm Partners can help you understand the complicated process of the Marchman Act. If you have struggled with your loved ones addiction and want to action to help them get on the road to recovery then the Marchman Act can work in your favor. Sometimes the Marchman Act can be tricky and confusing and some people don’t want to be the one to “do” it to their loved ones. Don’t worry you’re not alone and this will only help your loved on in their fight against addiction. Palm Partners can help you understand the Marchman Act and the legalizations around it.
A Marchman Act is a means of providing an individual in need of drug treatment, drug alcohol detox, or a medical/mental facility with emergency services and temporary detention for substance abuse evaluation and treatment when required either on an involuntary or voluntary basis.
A voluntary admission is when a person who wishes to enter treatment for substance abuse services applies to a service provider for voluntary admission. An involuntary admission is when there is good faith reason to believe the person is substance abuse impaired and, because of said impairment, has lost the power of self-control over their substance use; either has inflicted, attempted or threatened to inflict or is likely to inflict physical harm on himself or herself or another person; or the persons judgment has been so impaired because of substance abuse that he/she is incapable of appreciating the need for substance abuse treatment.
There is additional criterion for a voluntary and involuntary Marchman Act. For instance, a minor may seek voluntary admission for substance abuse services without parental or guardian consent. A law enforcement officer may take a person into protective custody when the minor or adult appears to meet the admission criteria and is brought to the attention of law enforcement officer in a public place. Along with the ability of a law enforcement officer’s authority to implement protective custody, a private practitioner, the persons spouse or relative of the person, the director of a licensed service provider or the directors designee, 3 responsible adults who have personal knowledge of the persons substance abuse problem or, in the case of a minor, the minor’s parents, legal guardian, legal custodian, or a licensed service provider can file an involuntary Marchman Act petition.
If you have personal knowledge of a person’s substance abuse problem and because of this impairment the person has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance abuse, drinking and drugging; and you have reason to believe that that person is a danger to him/herself or others you may file a Marchman Act petition. You will need to contact a licensed service provider treatment center to confirm that a bed is available for that impaired person.
If you feel that you may want to utilize the Marchman Act or will ever need it in the future for you or your loved one Palm Partners can help with understanding the Marchman Act and can even help you with the intervention process that you may want to look into before you utilize this tool.