My Family has Successfully Petitioned the Court for a Marchman Act - What Happens Now?




Your family has had enough of your self-destructive behavior in active addiction, and they have taken action and successfully convinced a judge to mandate your enrolling in a substance abuse treatment program. There are probably dozens of questions swirling around your conscious mind, as well as a measure of anxiety and perhaps even anger at your feeling attacked and cornered. How can you expect things to proceed for you, and what exactly are your obligations as a result of the court order?


First, you should let go of any thoughts of resistance or refusal to comply with the court order, as this will only result in your being jailed which is a far worse environment to find yourself in than that of a residential treatment center. As a result of the court order, you must accept admission to a predetermined treatment center for an initial evaluation which can take anywhere from one to five days. During this time, you will be under round the clock supervision and will receive medication assistance for any withdrawal symptoms you experience. Your time spent in treatment during this initial evaluation will not be unpleasant, and may even provide you a period of mental clarity in which you decide to enroll in treatment regardless of the judge’s decision resulting from the evaluation results.


Should you still be firmly against the idea of attending substance abuse treatment on your own, the judge may review your evaluation and issue another order mandating your participation in a treatment program for up to sixty days. The particular treatment center will have already been determined by those family members who petitioned the court to begin with, and is often dependent on your insurance provider and financial means. All substance abuse treatment centers are open door facilities, so you will not be physically restrained from exiting the treatment center should that be your wish. Bear in mind, failure to comply with a court order will result in your being found in contempt of court and jailed so should you leave treatment before successful completion a warrant for your arrest will be issued by the courts.


The Marchman Act was established to provide family members of an addict with recourse to compel the substance abuser to participate in a treatment program for their disorder. Those addicts on the receiving end of a Marchman Act are often frustrated and angry with their family for taking this step, and their instinct may be to look for a way to subvert the order and avoid attending treatment. This response is both futile and self-destructive, as any noncompliance with a court order will result in your being incarcerated until you come into compliance. Rather than trying to run from this reality, you should instead accept the situation and try to make the best of it, taking advantage of this opportunity to get sober. You may come to see your family’s forcing you into treatment as the best thing they have ever done for you, as it is the catalyst for your entering recovery and achieving a life beyond your wildest dreams!



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