Marchman Act a tool in the battle against substance abuse and addiction | Local News

When law enforcement responds to a 911 call for a possible overdose, one of the tools used to help a person with a substance addiction is also one of the most misunderstood: the Marchman Act.

Similar to the Baker Act, which deals with mental health crises, the Marchman Act is used for involuntary assessment and treatment of someone who is impaired by drugs or alcohol and appears to be a danger to themselves or others.

According to information from the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office, between Jan. 1, and March 7 of this year, law enforcement initiated 75 Marchman Acts on individuals.

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“Where the Marchman Act comes into place with opioids is when there’s an overdose,” said Sgt. Rachel Montgomery, behavioral health sergeant for the Citrus County Sheriff’s Office. “Usually we’re responding to a call that comes out as a ‘cardiac arrest.’ If Narcan is provided or if we or medical staff do a sternum rub to revive them to bring them back, we’ll do a Marchman Act on them.”

The Marchman Act allows law enforcement on the scene to have the person involuntarily taken to an emergency room, which is the first step.

As Montgomery explained, when Narcan/naloxone is given, the overdose reversal effect generally lasts only 60 to 90 minutes. After that, there’s a danger of re-overdosing.

“With Narcan, they have to go to the ER,” she said.

While the person is still at the emergency room, ER staff calls LifeStream to start the next step in the process, which is transporting the person to the access center in Beverly Hills for initial intake before they’re transported to LifeStream’s crisis stabilization unit in Leesburg .

Also, law enforcement calls a certified peer support specialist with LifeStream, who comes to the ER to talk to the person who has overdosed.

The peer offers “been there, done that” support, encourages them to seek help for their addiction, discusses resources that are available and offers to set up appointments for them.

They also leave doses of Narcan with them to give to family and friends in case of a future overdose.

Once law enforcement initiates a Marchman Act, LifeStream steps in, said Dr. Lisa Woolston, associate vice president of Citrus County Services for Adults at LifeStream.

“The Marchman Act for both law enforcement and LifeStream is about recidivism and prevention,” she said. “If it’s followed through, it’s mandating that these individuals get help, to have an evaluation and address their issues.”

If the process doesn’t breakdown at any point, the Marchman Act gets a person to the crisis stabilization unit where they can undergo an evaluation, see a doctor, get started on Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) if needed and get to a point of stability where they can decide if they want to get further treatment, whether inpatient or outpatient.

However, sometimes there’s a glitch in the process and a person is medically cleared and discharged by the ER before someone arrives to transport the person to the access center.

When that happens, the Marchman Act can’t be completed.

Once released, it’s more common than not to have them go right back to their same environment and start using again, Montgomery said.

So, it’s important that the person remains at the hospital until they’re transferred into LifeStream’s care, Woolston said.

“We’re providing them the front-end care, introducing them to a system of care, getting them peer support, case management, detox and counseling,” she said.

Montgomery said a common misconception of the Marchman Act is that it’s a punishment or that it will affect a person getting a job in the future.

“It’s not an arrest,” she said.

She added that Marchman also allows friends and family members to petition the court to have a person placed under involuntary assessment and stabilization and also for involuntary treatment.

However, it must be filed in the county where the treatment facility is located.

Currently, Citrus County does not have a substance abuse rehab facility, she said.

For more information about the Marchman Act, go online at marchmanactflorida.com.

For crisis help, call the LifeStream 24 Hour Access Center/Crisis Line: 866-355-9394 or 352-315-7800.

To find help for substance abuse, call the SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration national hotline at 800-662-4357.

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