You’re caught in the whirlwind of a loved one’s active addiction. You’re in crisis and you have questions.
If your loved one was in the middle of a medical emergency, like a heart attack, you would call an ambulance. Within a short period of time you wouldn’t feel alone in your crisis —you’d have outside assistance. You’d have experts to consult with, second opinions, support. Addiction is tricky. It enters our family unannounced, and like bacteria, it often grows in darkness, taking a little more ground every day, generally leaving everyone affected unsure of what to do.
What to Do When The Crisis of Addiction Hits
Then there is the aspect of shame. Addiction is still, to a very real degree, marked with a stigma. This only adds to the dilemma. “Should we tell anyone? We don’t want to bring embarrassment on our family, or them. We don’t want to ruin his or her chances of a normal life.” These are the conversations that often go on in the family of an addict and the individual operating in active addiction tends to agree with ‘keeping things under wraps.’ Minimizing the severity of the situation generally takes a front seat in the dynamics of the addict’s family.
Is there a ‘right way’ to handle this surreal time period that begins the moment you discover your loved one is operating in addiction until they seek help? The days, months, or years of struggle can be brutal. Every family member is affected in some way.
The first and most important thing you can do is accept the fact that you are in crisis.
Come Face-to-Face With Reality
Learning to accept the reality of what is happening is the most important first step for the family. Accepting that you are a family facing crisis and that parts of your life may be out of control as a direct result of an addict’s behavior is important. You don’t have to minimize the fact that you are constantly worried or feeling awkward about being asked for money. You also don’t have to walk on eggshells in order to keep the peace around the house. This is happening to you. It is real, and it is okay for you to be angry, confused or hurt. Once you fully accept the reality of the situation you can move forward into options.
In subsequent articles, we will discuss topics like intervention and family boundaries. Today, we’re going to explain the Baker Act and The Marchman Act, since these are phrases that come up. “Can we (or should we) Baker Act our child/spouse/loved one?” is a common question we are asked, so here is an explanation of what these actually are:
What is the Baker Act?
The term, Baker Act is heard quite a bit. There is some confusion regarding what it is and how it is used.
The Baker Act and The Marchman Act are two acts under Florida law intended to help people receive the help they need.
The Baker Act is Florida’s Mental Health Act which states, “The Baker Act encourages the voluntary admission of persons for psychiatric care, but only when they are able to understand the decision and its consequences and are able to fully exercise their rights for themselves. When this is not possible due to the severity of the person’s condition, the law requires that the person be extended the due process rights assured under the involuntary provisions of the Baker Act.” (dcf.state.fl.us, 2011) Under certain criteria, a person can be admitted involuntarily for evaluation and/or psychiatric care in circumstances where the person’s well being is truly at stake due to their mental illness. If the admission is involuntary, they can be held for up to three days for a psychiatric evaluation.
What is the Marchman Act?
The Marchman Act is Florida’s Substance Abuse Impairment Act which is intended to get treatment for those who are suffering from an addiction. This can be voluntary or involuntary, but certain criteria must be met. The Marchman Act begins with a petition and hearing. If a person is admitted involuntarily, they can be held for up to five days to be evaluated and stabilized.
The Baker Act is meant to help those with a mental illness while the The Marchman Act can help an individual get into treatment for substance abuse. It may be hard to take the step to have a loved one admitted into a treatment facility, but in the end it may be one of the only ways they will receive the help they need.
How to Decide What to Do To Help An Addict
No one can make the choice for you. As the family of an addict, you are only working with a portion of the facts. It is important to realize that your loved one may be much further along in his or her addiction than you even realize. Based on the facts you have, it is a good idea to sit down with a counselor or qualified interventionist who can help you sort through your questions, emotions, and provide clarity to the crisis you are now facing.
If you’d like to speak to someone today about the treatment for alcohol or drug addiction, please do not hesitate to call us. The Shores Treatment and Recovery has professionals and on-staff interventionists who can direct you in your time of need. The most important thing you can do is make the decision to reach out.