Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Police: Chiropractor may have been using drugs before shooting


A South Florida chiropractor and pain clinic operator may have been paranoid or delusional from using drugs or alcohol when he opened fire at police outside the Lighthouse Point station, police said Monday.

"It Cannot Happen to My Child" by Howard Spector

It would seem most all of us are related to, or know someone whose life has been adversely affected by the Disease of Drug or Alcohol Addiction. This known in the professional circles as Chemical Dependency. How many of us, unless it has affected a true loved one in our life has paid much attention to the damage this has done to our society? What really happens to those who become addicted?
What causes young people to start to use drugs? Is it peer pressure, is it a desire to experiment, is it a place for them to hide from the pressures of adolescence or perceived self inadequacies, or is it a combination of all of these issues?
The problem is that we as parents and they as children do not fully understand. Once the usage crosses over from using to feel good, to using to prevent the awful pain of withdrawal, you are then an Addict (Chemically Dependent).Your life then becomes a living hell. Every waking hour is dictated by your drug. It is as though your brain is a prisoner to the drug. It is the only thing that occupies your mind and physical being.
My source of insight to this disease is my life experience with and the loss of my son David to a drug overdose at the age of Thirty Three.
I wrote a previous article of David’s accomplishments during an almost seven your period that he did not use and how he improved his life and advocated for others living with the disease. In the end, he lost the battle. I will never forget one of my last conversations with him after he relapsed the last time. His exact words were “my addiction has reared its ugly head”.
I tell this story, not for sympathy, but to try to make parents understand how compelling addiction is with a child that starts using at an early age and uses over a long period of time. These urges became so deeply ingrained that I truly believe they are even more susceptible to relapse.
I write this because I hope to make parents and children understand that this can and does happen to thousands of others and this can happen to you. You and your child need to understand the consequences. I do not have the opportunity to change things I wish I would have done differently as a parent during my son’s formative years, but you can.
If you have well founded suspicions, such as drop in grades, isolation, (a big indicator), change in attitude towards you and avoidance of other family members, do not allow your child’s denials and justification deter you, as you need to know lying and justifying are by products of using drugs. Their quest for drugs is only equaled by their effort to prevent being detained in their pursuit to get high. If they tell you they are only a “social user” as a method to minimize your concerns, I will tell you that every addict was once a “social user”. If this pattern of behavior does not change, do not expect their proposed compromises. If they then remain unwilling to be drug tested and if necessary, seek help in the form of one and one, group therapy, and if need be, inpatient care. Intervention should be used if all else fails. The bottom line is unless they realize and acknowledge that they need help, the chances of success are not good, however, you must try.

The important things to do before all of these measures are needed, is to stay involved in their lives during these formative years, which means finding time to do so in an appropriate way. Try to create an atmosphere in which they enjoy interacting with you in shared activates such as ballgames, movies, etc. Talk to your local school board about including a drug education course to the school curriculum. Most importantly, make a point to tell your child you love them every day.

Stay Well
Howard Spector

I want to thank my good friend Ray Ferrero III for his great help in organizing the David Spector Memorial Award at Nova Southeastern University. The University acknowledges a Medical Student each year that stands out in the interest and participation in the area of addiction medicine.

Another Celebrity Overdose - Brittany Murphy


(CBS/AP) Authorities said Monday it appeared actress Brittany Murphy died of natural causes after becoming ill with flulike symptoms in the days before she collapsed in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home.

But at least one leading pathologist tells "The Early Show" he'd bet a lethal combination of prescription drugs was involved.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Research Shows Parenting Can Prevent Drug Use, Aid Brain Development, NIDA Chief Says

From the founding of National Families in Action during the height of the War on Drugs to Joseph A. Califano's book, How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid, parents and communities have been touted as the keys to preventing alcohol and other drug problems among youth, and research now shows that environmental and genetic risk factors can be trumped by parental engagement during the critical adolescent years, according to Nora D. Volkow, M.D., director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA).

ARLS Response to Anonymous

The following post was left on the Blog from "Anonymous" re: my December 3, 2009 post "This Has Gone Too Far: Some Calif. Doctors Prescribe Medical Marijuana to Kids."

Anonymous writes:
"Doctors give far more dangerous meds to young kids all the time! If the doctor doesn't think it will help they won't recommend it. NO ONE, OF ANY AGE, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, IN ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY, HAS EVER DIED FROM THE INGREDIENTS IN MARIJUANA! LEARN THE FACTS ABOUT DRUGS AND DRUG LAWS! BE SURE TO READ "WHY IS MARIJUANA ILLEGAL" and "MARIJUANA FACTS THE GOVERNMENT DOES NOT WANT YOU TO KNOW" END THE MADNESS, CHANGE THE DRUG LAWS!"

Let me respond by thanking "Anonymous" for the post. I will start out by agreeing with him re: one very important point in his post. The U.S. needs to re-examine and restructure its current drug policy. The Florida State Prison System, as an example, is busting at the seams with NON-VIOLENT DRUG OFFENDERS. It is estimated that over 70% of its prison population are incarcerated for the use, possession or sale of some illegal drug; including, marijuana. Furthermore, a great deal of that population suffer from addiction and/or a combination of a drug addiction and a mental health issue, without being provided any treatment whatsoever for these problems; and, despite the fact that Florida legislators are aware that every dollar spent on treatment saves fifteen dollars for our state. Yet, nothing is done. So, "Anonymous, on this point we agree.

However, I totally disagree with "Anonymous" concerning the remainder of the argument put forth. He/She writes:

"Doctors give far more dangerous meds to young kids all the time! If the doctor doesn't think it will help they won't recommend it.".

First of all that statement is simply overly broad, vague and naive. Florida, for example, is in a state of emergency due to disreputable doctors flooding our streets with "legal" opiates with no legitimate medical condition present from patients. Sadly, some doctors do prescribe medication without any concern for the safety of the patient; their only concern - making a profit. Furthermore, marijuana has been proven to have an ill effect upon the developing adolescent brain. It is an intoxicant, a hallucinogen and far more powerful a drug than it ever has been in history due to advances in horticulture. Children simply do not need to be introduced to intoxicants before their brains fully develop (actually, estimated to conclude at the age of 20-21). Children do not need to be introduced to intoxicants before they are of a legal age to make such decisions for themselves re: the pros and cons of drug use. Or, before their personalities have a chance to develop. I find the prescription of such substances to kids to be criminal having seen first hand in my law practice what marijuana can do to children; specifically, when that child has an underlying mental health issue. Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley put it best when he said:

“How many ways can one say ‘one of the worst ideas of all time?”

Hinshaw, cited studies showing that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, disrupts attention, memory and concentration — functions already compromised in people with the attention-deficit disorder. I would urge Anynomous to read these studies and not confuse and mix his anger with drug laws with the realities of the effect of drugs upon the minds of children and adults.

Finally, "Anonymous" wrote:

"NO ONE, OF ANY AGE, ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD, IN ALL OF RECORDED HISTORY, HAS EVER DIED FROM THE INGREDIENTS IN MARIJUANA!"

Again, vague and an overly broad statement. However, for argument sake, let's take this statement as true. Can "Anonymous" deny that a staggering number of lives are lost annually as a direct result of adolescents and adults operating automobiles, or, being involved in accidents, while "someone" was under the influence of drugs and alcohol; including marijuana...I think not. Thanks again for posting. Your thoughts?

Friday, December 4, 2009

Some MRI centers help addicts, dealers get pain pills

It's a midnight scene detectives have watched many times in the past year:

Patrons of a Palm Beach County strip club walk outside and climb into a semi trailer parked in back. Cars pull into the lot beside the trailer, where the drivers take their turn inside and then drive away.

Each gets an MRI.

Most of the truck's customers were pain-pill dealers or abusers who needed magnetic resonance imaging scans to get a supply of narcotic drugs from one of South Florida's pill mills, detectives said.

Good Parenting Creates Drug-Free Kids, Conference Experts Say

Of all the answers offered at a recent conference on "How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope," perhaps the one from Joseph A. Califano, Chairman and Founder of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University, best summed up the advice to parents.

Boca police, DEA, announce arrests after undercover operation

Boca Raton - Police arrested a dozen people suspected of participating in a drug-trafficking enterprise that mostly dealt in crack cocaine and was entrenched in the Pearl City neighborhood, authorities said on Thursday (SEE VIDEO COVERAGE)

The arrests came after a yearlong undercover operation by
Boca Raton police and the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which included 40 crack cocaine buys.

Arrested Wednesday and Thursday were: Courtney Hughes, 27, of Delray Beach; Tobias Seays, 30, Iman Albury, 22 and Patrick Johnson, 22, all of Boca Raton; Detavious Wring, 20, of Deerfield Beach; and Jay Eaford, 38, of Pompano Beach...(READ ARTICLE)

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Oddity of the Day: Obama Ecstasy

There is now a line of Ecstasy pills made in the image of the 44th president of the United States, according to Texas police who have snatched a batch off the streets.

Oddity of the Day: New Video - Marilyn Monroe Smoking Pot?


Newly uncovered home video creates buzz

This newly released video of Marilyn Monroe is causing quite a stir. Believed to have been filmed almost 50 years ago, this silent film was allegedly recorded in a New Jersey apartment belonging to Monroe's friend. A collector purchased the film for $275,000 and plans to auction it off on eBay later this week.

This Has Gone Too Far: Some Calif. Doctors Recommend Medical Marijuana for Kids

Some teenagers with psychiatric conditions like attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have become medical-marijuana users in California, the

New York Times reported Nov. 22.

Some Bay Area physicians have recommended marijuana to their adolescent patients, and the operator of Oakland's MediCann clinic network estimates that staffers have provided medical marijuana to around 50 users ages 14 to 18. Another patients collective, the Wo/Men's Alliance for Medical Marijuana in Santa Cruz, has 24 minors among its clients.

“How many ways can one say ‘one of the worst ideas of all time?’ ” asked Stephen Hinshaw, the chairman of the psychology department at the University of California, Berkeley. He cited studies showing that tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, the active ingredient in cannabis, disrupts attention, memory and concentration — functions already compromised in people with the attention-deficit disorder.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Monday, November 23, 2009

Broward County Grand Jury Recommends Steps to Clean Up Pill Mills

In a Nov. 19 report, a Broward County grand jury recommended 18 steps to help crack down on the proliferation of pain clinics in South Florida. The report noted that in the past two years, the number of Broward County clinics has risen from four to 115.

Among the grand jury's recommendations:

* Curbing doctor shopping by reducing the 15-day reporting requirement
* Requiring doctors at pain clinics to access and view patients' databases prior to prescribing and dispensing medication to patients
* Prohibiting prescription drugs from being dispensed at clinics, unless there is no pharmacy within 10 miles of the pain clinic. Or, as an alternative, allowing only a 3-day supply of prescription drugs rather than a 30-day supply
* Barring people with criminal records from owning pain clinics

To view a Miami-Herald story about the recommendations, visit http://www.miamiherald.com/news/florida/story/1342972.html

Prescription Drug Victims: Michael Jackson’s doctor returning to work Monday


Despite an on-going criminal investigation and a cloud of suspicion over him, Michael Jackson’s former personal physician is returning to work at his Houston clinic for the first time since the pop singer’s death.

Murray last worked at the clinic in April, before suspending his regular practices in Las Vegas and Houston to take a lucrative $150,000-per-month job as Jackson’s personal physician.

The physician continues to be the focus of a homicide investigation since telling investigators he administered propofol, a powerful operating room anesthetic, to Jackson. Los Angeles police say they will not decide whether to prosecute Murray, until next year.

Prescription Drug Victims: Sopranos actor Brancato goes on trial for killing of police officer


Lillo Brancato made a name for himself playing mob characters on the small and big screen. With his Italian New York upbringing, and an uncanny ability to imitate the tough dialect of local crime families, he was recruited to play opposite Robert De Niro and appeared in six episodes of the TV series the Sopranos as a wannabe mobster who was killed before he could achieve his dreams.

Now Brancato's own ambitions face extinction as he goes on trial for the second degree murder of a police officer in 2005. Brancato is alleged to have been involved in a bungled robbery in search of prescription drugs, in which his accomplice, Steven Armento, shot the officer at close range.

Prison Treatment Cuts Could Feed Recidivism in Calif.

Prison Treatment Cuts Could Feed Recidivism in Calif.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Campaign Designed to Tackle Teen Prescription Abuse

Broward County educators, parents, health professionals and child advocates may be interested in a new campaign aimed at curbing illegal prescription drug use among teenagers.

"Maximizing Your Role as a Teen Influencer: What You Can Do to Help Prevent Teen Prescription Drug Abuse" was recently launched by the National Council on Patient Information and Education (NCPIE), along with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and 15 other groups.

Some of the staggering facts about teen drug use are:
* More than 1 in 10 teens (or 2.8 million) have abused prescription drugs in their lifetimes according to SAMHSA
* 1 in 3 teens surveyed said there is "nothing wrong" when using prescription drugs "every once in a while," according to the Partnership for a Drug-Free America's 2007 Partnership Attitude Tracking Study

To read full story, click here.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Alcohol Deaths Rise among College Students

Alcohol-related deaths among U.S. college students have increased from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 less than a decade later, in 2005, according to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

In response to the increasingly complex issue of alcohol abuse among college students, the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism created the Task Force on College Drinking in 1998. Visit the task force site with facts on college drinking here.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Florida Drug & Alcohol Deaths Estimated at 11,000 per Year

A staggering 11,000 Floridians die every year from the effects of drug and alcohol abuse, according to a news item on Capitol News Service.

The story reports, "The deaths result from overdoses, car wrecks, and violent acts committed by the drug abusers. The addicts are costing state, city and county governments an estimate 43 billion dollars a year in emergency room visits, crime scene investigations, and prison costs. Florida TaxWatch spokesman Harvey Bennett says drugs and alcohol also keep people from paying taxes and using their skills for the greater good."

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Find a Substance Abuse Treatment Center

Locate a substance abuse treatment center in your area by using a convenient database maintained by The Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services Administration, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Click here for details.

You will be able to search for drug or alcohol treatment centers by city, state, zip code, or street address. For example, a search of Fort Lauderdale, Florida results in almost 150 treatment centers offering a wide range of services.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Florida Sheriff Launches Narcotics Strategic Diversion Unit

In drug terms, "diversion" refers to legal prescription medicine that is redirected for illegal purposes. The Pinellas County (Florida) Sheriff's Office announced the formation of the Diversion Unit to partner with other federal, state and local law enforcement agencies to increase public awareness on this dangerous trend. The St. Petersburg, Florida, Police Department has agreed to provide assistance and resouces.

As part of this initiative, the Pinellas County Sheriff ’s Office is holding “Operation Medicine Cabinet” events. This is an opportunity for citizens to properly dispose of their unused medications in a safe and secure manner. Last spring the first "Operation Medicine Cabinet" collected over one ton of medications from Bay Area citizens.

Read the full story about the Narcotics Strategic Diversion Unit.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Prescription Drug Abuse a Coral Springs Priority

Because "illegal prescription narcotics are some of the most abused drugs in the nation," the Coral Springs, Florida Police Department is placing a high priority on preventing their unauthorized use and distribution.

Trafficking of prescription drugs is the basis for 13 Coral Springs arrests since June 2009, reports Police Chief Duncan Foster, with 1,936 dosage units of 30-milligram oxycodone and 90 units of 15-milligram oxycodone seized in the actions.

According to a November 8 Sun Sentinel story titled Coral Springs puts tight lid on prescription drug abuse, Coral Springs Police Department efforts include working with local pharmacies to insure compliance with laws aimed at preventing abuse of prescription narcotics.

A resident tip line, partnerships with the FBI, and "drug destruction day" events are several other police initiatives meant to bring heightened community awareness to the subject.

Perhaps most meaningfully, parents who have lost a child due to the illegal use of prescription drugs will speak in local high schools on the dangers of drug abuse.

Coral Springs is based in Broward County, Florida.

Friday, November 6, 2009

How to Spot Cocaine Abuse

Do you suspect a friend, family member, or child of substance abuse? Here are some warning signs of cocaine abuse, as provided by the Florida Department of Children and Families.

The physical symptoms of cocaine abuse include short-lived euphoria, changing to depression; nervousness or irritability; and tightening of muscles.

If you suspect cocaine abuse, look for glassine envelopes (they look like waxed paper), razor blades, small spoons, and odorless bitter white crystalline powder.

Physical dangers of cocaine abuse can be life-threatening, and include shallow breathing, fever, anxiety, tremors, and possible death from convulsions or respiratory arrest.

Seek immediate medical attention, based on the circumstances of your case.

Read more about alcohol and substance abuse symptoms here.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Seven Symptoms of Drug Abuse

The Florida Department of Children and Families alerts parents, other concerned family members, and friends to watch for the following behaviorial changes:

1. change in school or work attendance or performance
2. alteration of personal appearance
3. sudden mood or attitude changes
4. withdrawal from family contacts
5. withdrawal from responsibility
6. unusual patterns of behavior
7. unresponsive to environmental stimuli

If you suspect drug or other substance abuse, it is best to address the situation quickly.

Click here to read more about the street names and physical symptoms for different kinds of drugs, including heroine, cocaine, hallucinogens, and amphetamines.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Florida Substance Abuse and Mental Health Stakeholder Survey

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Program Offices of the Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) are in the process of developing a three-year Master Plan which will report on activities to the Florida Legislature. The Master Plan must be finalized by January 1, 2010, and will cover the time frame of Fiscal Years 2011 through 2013.

Further information about the survey is available form Sheila Barbee at (850) 487-2920 or Jimmers Micallef at (850) 413-6159. Visit the DCF Substance Abuse website for more details.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Lee County Students Report Prescription Drug Abuse

Over 12% of Lee County, Florida, students reported abusing prescription pain killers, according to a recent story by NBC 2 titled, "Survey: Lee County tops state for Rx drug abuse." Additionally, almost 9% of students surveyed admitted to abusing depressants.

Statistics are taken from the 2008 Florida Substance Abuse survey, conducted by the Florida Department of Children and Families. Lee County tops the state in prescription drug abuse, according to the survey.

Parents who are concerned about whether their school-aged child is using or experimenting with drugs can read more here about substance abuse signs in teens and children. Early detection and treatment is recommended to avoid longer term substance abuse issues.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Thoughts for the day....Intervention 911...Ken Seely's team...The Florida Marchman Act...A wonderful team...

First, I must apologize for not writing as of recent days. Addiction Recovery Legal Services has been active around the State of Florida working with families is desperate need of care for involuntary commitment services, and training health and services professionals on the minutia of the Florida Marchman Act procedure. We have made great progress. I would like to thank Broward Health (formerly the North Broward Hospital District) for having the vision to understand the need to educate their social workers, ER staff, and front line intake workers on the Florida Marchman Act for the benefit of the public. They serve our community well and have been both interested and pro-active.

I also want to thank Ken Seely and his intervention 911 team who took the afternoon to fly in from all around the country to meet and gain a better understanding about the Florida Marchman Act. I flew to Tampa with our Director of Outreach, Mellisa Morgan, and spent an afternoon that I can only describe as electric! Speaking to their team of interventionists made me feel as if I were speaking to a room full of old friends and kindred souls. Their work is so very important and I admire each and everyone of them for what they do - save lives every day. I am also excited because it was painfully clear of the synergy that existed between our teams; how we may assist them with families across the nation and how they may assist us with the very important work we are doing within the civil court system. Special thanks to Jerry and Evan who worked with our offices so closely last week, and the wonderful success on each case.

Finally, please keep coming back to this blog for updates. I am getting married in less than 8 days to my beautiful fiance, and then sailing her off to Istanbul for two weeks...but, I will keep checking in, posting when I can and feeling confident that no matter how difficult it may seem for those living with substance abuse and addiction, there are truly dedicated individuals committed to saving lives - one at a time.

Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

NIDA Principles of Addiction Treatment and The Florida Marchman Act (See #10)

More than three decades of scientific research have yielded 13 fundamental principles that characterize effective drug abuse treatment. These principles are detailed in NIDA’s Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.

1. No single treatment is appropriate for all individuals. Matching treatment settings, interventions, and services to each patient’s problems and needs is critical.

2. Treatment needs to be readily available. Treatment applicants can be lost if treatment is not immediately available or readily accessible.

3. Effective treatment attends to multiple needs of the individual, not just his or her drug use. Treatment must address the individual’s drug use and associated medical, psychological, social, vocational, and legal problems.

4. At different times during treatment, a patient may develop a need for medical services, family therapy, vocational rehabilitation, and social and legal services.

5. Remaining in treatment for an adequate period of time is critical for treatment effectiveness. The time depends on an individual’s needs. For most patients, the threshold of significant improvement is reached at about 3 months in treatment. Additional treatment can produce further progress. Programs should include strategies to prevent patients from leaving treatment prematurely.

6. Individual and/or group counseling and other behavioral therapies are critical components of effective treatment for addiction. In therapy, patients address motivation, build skills to resist drug use, replace drug-using activities with constructive and rewarding nondrug-using activities, and improve problem-solving abilities. Behavioral therapy also facilitates interpersonal relationships.

7. Medications are an important element of treatment for many patients, especially when combined with counseling and other behavioral therapies. Buprenorphine, can help persons addicted to opiates stabilize their lives and reduce their drug use. Naltrexone is effective for some opiate addicts and some patients with co-occurring alcohol dependence. Nicotine patches or gum, or an oral medication, such as buproprion, can help persons addicted to nicotine.

8. Addicted or drug-abusing individuals with coexisting mental disorders should have both disorders treated in an integrated way.

9. Medical detoxification is only the first stage of addiction treatment and by itself does little to change long-term drug use. Medical detoxification manages the acute physical symptoms of withdrawal. For some individuals it is a precursor to effective drug addiction treatment.

10. Treatment does not need to be voluntary to be effective. Sanctions or enticements in the family, employment setting, "CIVIL" or criminal justice system can significantly increase treatment entry, retention, and success.

11. Possible drug use during treatment must be monitored continuously. Monitoring a patient’s drug and alcohol use during treatment, such as through urinalysis, can help the patient withstand urges to use drugs. Such monitoring also can provide early evidence of drug use so that treatment can be adjusted.

12. Treatment programs should provide assessment for HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C, tuberculosis and other infectious diseases, and counseling to help patients modify or change behaviors that place them or others at risk of infection. Counseling can help patients avoid high-risk behavior and help people who are already infected manage their illness.

13. Recovery from drug addiction can be a long-term process and frequently requires multiple episodes of treatment. As with other chronic illnesses, relapses to drug use can occur during or after successful treatment episodes. Participation in self-help support programs during and following treatment often helps maintain abstinence.

Monday, October 12, 2009

California tests ignition devices for DUI drivers

AP

SACRAMENTO, Calif. – California will test requiring that drivers convicted of drunken driving install devices that block vehicles from starting if alcohol is detected on the drivers' breath.

The bill by Assemblyman Mike Feuer, a Democrat from Los Angeles, is among those signed into law Sunday by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

It requires installing an ignition interlock device on every vehicle owned or operated by a first-time DUI offender in four counties: Alameda, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Tulare. The law expires in 2016.

Schwarzenegger also signed a bill by Sen. Bob Huff, a Republican from Diamond Bar, that lets repeat drunken drivers apply for restricted licenses if they install ignition interlock devices on their vehicles.

Hal S. Marchman


"I had a severe drinking problem…I'm allergic to two things. When I was 19 years old, the doctor gave me penicillin and I broke out and swelled up, and he said never to let anyone give you penicillin again...”

“When I was 26 years old, I found out I was allergic to alcohol...”

Friday, October 9, 2009

My thoughts for the day...Substance Abuse...Impairment...Addiction...

The term “substance abuse” has historically been a term associated with “addiction”. However, every substance abuser is not an addict (as addiction is an actual disease and abuse is behavioral). I have found that oftentimes this creates confusion, apprehension and ultimately has a negative impact on "how" society views the disease of addiction, or, is willing to engage in any productive dialogue on the topic. How many times have you heard someone say…”sure...I drink (or, recreationally use some substance), but I’m not an addict”.

It is estimated that between 13 and 15% of the U.S. population suffer from actual addiction. Generally, these stats are gathered from hospital admissions of individuals whose addiction has become physically disabling or life threatening. Substance abuse on the other hand is obviously far more prevalent and individuals may abuse substances for a life time, yet be fully functioning without any major dire consequence and invisible to statistical inquiry.

Accordingly, as a collective society - what is it that we are really speaking about?

My personal opinion is that the answer to this question is that we are speaking about “impairment”. The point when substance use and/or abuse leads to actual physical impairment and consequently progresses through the chronic (and, ultimately life-threatening) stages of addiction. Although this may be a minor point, I truly believe as a society, it is imperative to properly define and direct both dialogue and research on the national level. We need to lead in what it is that researchers are actually trying to discover. Is our inquiry looking at the effect that substance use and/or abuse has both physically and mentally upon an individual? Or, are we examining substance use and/or abuse whereby an individual begins to suffer from actual physical and mental impairment and subsequent addiction? I believe it to be both. However, there is an important need to re-examine and re-direct our discussions on substance abuse, impairment and addiction and clarify how our society understands this complex multi-factorial state of being.

Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq. - Addiction Recovery Legal Services, LLC

Friday, October 2, 2009

Kabul Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center




(PAULA BRONSTEIN, GETTY IMAGES / September 29, 2009)
Drug addicts excercise during the Wadan rehabilitation program at the Kabul Drug Treatment and Rehabilitation Center Tuesday in Kabul, Afghanistan. Since the center opened in May 2009 it has rehabilitated over 400 addicts in it's 100 bed facility with temporary funding from International Organization of Migration (IOM) and help from the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH). The program lasts for 45 days combining both detox and rehabilitation. The center houses the 2 leading organizations that offer detox programs, Wadan and Nejat. A US Department of State report 2009 states that there are an estimated two million drug users in the country with atleast 50-60,000 drug addicts in Kabul alone.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

U.S. - addiction at pandemic levels

BALTIMORE, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- Untreated alcohol and drug addiction in the United States remains at pandemic levels, with little change from year to year, an expert says. Victor Capoccia, director of the Closing the Addiction Treatment Gap initiative -- a nationwide effort to expand addiction treatment -- says 23 million Americans are addicted to alcohol and drugs, but only one in 10 are treated.
Capoccia says the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health Data released by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration shows in 2008, 23.1 million persons ages 12 or older needed treatment for an illicit drug or alcohol use problem -- consistent with numbers reported in previous years. The most common reason cited by those who wanted treatment but did not receive any was the inability to pay for it.

"The nation is focused on how best to reform our healthcare system.
Access to effective addiction treatment will save billions of dollars over a decade's time compared with the costs and health complications that come with not treating people at all," Capoccia said in a statement.

"Ignoring any disease -- be it addiction, diabetes or hypertension -- is bad medicine and should not be an option in today's healthcare system. Addiction treatment should be fully covered by all insurance plans."

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Florida Teenage Girls Surpass Boys in Recent Alcohol Use

In Florida, females ages 11 to 18 were more likely than males to report past 30-day alcohol use (30.6% vs. 29%) and lifetime use of alcohol (54.9% vs. 51.5%). Males ages 11 to 18 were more likely to report binge drinking, which is defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a row in the past two weeks (15.6% vs. 14%). Source: 2008 Florida Youth Substance Abuse Survey.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Substance Abuse by Florida Lawyer Applicants Draws Social Media Scrutiny from Board of Examiners

The Florida Board of Bar Examiners recently adopted the policy that investigation of social networking Web sites, like Facebook, should be conducted for applicants who, among other reasons, have a history of substance abuse/dependence “so as to ascertain whether they discussed or posted photographs of any recent substance abuse.”

Read the full story here.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

U of Florida Recognized for Drug Abuse Prevention

The University of Florida was one of five schools to be named a 2009 Model of Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse Prevention Program on College Campuses by the U.S. Department of Education. This distinction comes with a $100,000 grant for the College of Health and Human Performance to continue its campuswide alcohol abuse prevention program. Read the full story.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Help for Prescription Drug Abuse

Five people in Florida die every day as a direct result of prescription drug overdoses, including from hydrocodone (e.g. Vicodin) and oxycodone (e.g. Oxycontin), according to the Florida Medical Examiners.

Nationally, the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration says nearly 7 million Americans currently abuse prescription drugs, noting that is "more than the number who are abusing cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, ecstasy and inhalants combined." The DEA also reports that "opioid painkillers now cause more overdose deaths than cocaine and heroin combined."

If you know someone who is struggling with an addiction to prescription drugs, speak to your doctor or other healthcare professional. Many people dealing with addiction deny the need for care, causing great emotional stress for their families and friends.

Florida's Marchman Act was created to address this need for substance abuse treatment. Read A Family Guide to the Florida Marchman Act here.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Broward County Leaders in Substance Abuse Recognized

The United Way of Broward County's Commission on Substance Abuse last week honored 14 local activists and politicians for their work in getting the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program bill passed.

Honorees included Broward County Circuit Court Judge Marcia Beach and County Judge Gisele Pollack, Florida Representatives Kelly Skidmore, Ari Porth, Kurt Kelly and lobbyist Ron Book.

The PDMP bill, signed by Florida Governor Crist on June 18, will assist physicians in the proper treatment of their patients, especially those who may have a substance abuse problem. The secondary purpose is to assist law enforcement in reducing the illegal diversion of prescription drugs.

Quick statistics from the United Way:
• Florida has been the largest populated state without such a monitoring program
• Nationally, 23 of the top 25 doctors prescribing the most oxycodone are located in Broward County
• Florida physicians prescribe 5 times more oxycodone than the national average
• On average, 9 Floridians die every day from lethal overdoses of illegal prescription drugs
• 12-17 years old abuse prescription drugs more than they abuse ecstasy, crack/cocaine, heroin, and methamphetamine combined

United Way of Broward County Commission on Substance Abuse (a drug free coalition) established the Prescription Drug Abuse Task Force in 2002 in response to emerging data on the effects of prescription drug abuse impacting the residents of Broward County.

Read the United Way press release here.

Female DUI Arrests Rise 30 Percent in Decade

Men are still more likely to drive drunk than women, but a disturbing new report finds that 28.8 percent more women were arrested for driving under the influence in 2007 than a decade earlier, CNN reported Aug. 18.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Palm Beach County Sheriff May Cut Drug Treatment Program

The Palm Beach County Sheriff's "Substance Abuse Awareness Program" may be shut down as early as October 1st due to pending budget cuts. It all hinges on the outcome of Palm Beach County Commission budget and tax rate determinations.

The program treats thousands of inmates each year and long has been recognized as successful step in stemming violent crime. Alton Taylor, executive director of the Drug Abuse Foundation, said initiatives such as the sheriff's drug and alcohol program deter crime.

"We know that the No. 1 driver of crime is drugs. So, we know that we need strong law enforcement, strong prevention and strong treatment to cope with this problem," Taylor said. "The value to the community is if you arrest the drug addict and he gets no treatment, once released he's going to go back doing exactly what he was doing. An addict is always either seeking, using or in recovery. Or he's dead."

Read the full story in the Sun-Sentinel.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Miami Rally for Recovery, 9/12

The South Florida Rally For Recovery will be held on Saturday, September 12th, 2009 on beautiful Biscayne Bay in Downtown Miami, FL. Sponsored by InTheRooms, the day-long event is part of National Alcohol & Drug Addiction Recovery Month.

Plan to participate in one or all of three segments:

1) The Walk – Show your support for recovery. Join the walk for only $9. Register in advance here.

2) The Festival – Discover wonderful food, great speakers, recovery music, exhibits, special guests and surprises all day in Bicentennial Park.

3) The Concert – At the end of the day, hear Richie Supa perform his PRISM Award winning song, In The Rooms. There is also a special surprise guest planned!

Addiction Recovery Legal Services, LLC, a Fort Lauderdale based law firm concentrating in the Florida Marchman Act for confidential court ordered assessment and treatment of substance and drug abuse, is pleased to participate in this event. We hope to see you there!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Binge Drinking: Not for Kids Only

More than one in five men ages 50-64 report consuming five or more alcoholic beverages at a single sitting within the past month, shattering the myth that binge drinking is strictly a problem for college students. Read the full story.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

Advocates Urge Feds to Draft Strong Parity Regulations

"Advocates who cheered the historic passage of the Paul Wellstone and Pete Domenici Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 have shifted their focus to ensuring that federal agencies implement the measure in the full spirit of the legislation, noting that insurers and managed-care firms have been able to successfully thwart similar state laws."

Read the full story about the Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equity Act of 2008 by Bob Curley from JoinTogether.org.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Obituary - Hal S. Marchman

Hal S. Marchman died in March 2009.

Serving as pastor of Central Baptist Church in Daytona Beach for 28 years, Marchman extended his ministry far beyond his congregation. His Sunday School class for recovering alcoholics led to the creation in 1970 of the Leon F. Stewart Treatment Center, now called the Stewart-Marchman Center for Chemical Dependency.

Mr. Marchman also served on the Governor’s Task Force on Narcotics, Dangerous Drugs and Alcohol for Region 4. His work in the state Legislature resulted in Florida’s addiction statutes being named the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services Act of 1993.

The Marchman Act provides for the involuntary or voluntary assessment and stabilization of a person allegedly abusing substances like drugs or alcohol, and provides for treatment of substance abuse.

Read Mr. Marchman's obituary here.

Screening and Brief Intervention: Making a Public Health Difference

As part of their Osteopathic medical school training at Nova Southeastern University in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Attorney Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq., Dr. Richard Seely M.D. and Dr. Daniel Shaw, Ph.D., M.Ed. have developed a Psychiatry and Behavioral Medicine curriculum for all second year medical students that includes and stresses the importance of the recognition, integration and screening for alcohol and drug use with other routine preventive screenings for their patients. Students are educated as to both clinical and legal approaches for dealing with patients who engage in substance abuse. The student physician's recognition and screening of a patient's substance abuse concerns, or, a more involved legal intervention via the Florida Marchman Act have provided these young physicians with yet one more resource to save and improve the quality of their patient's lives.

S. Florida Cigarette Sales Down as Prices Rise

The tax has bumped the price of a pack of cigarettes in Florida to more than $6.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Drug addicts journey to vomit and vow at Thai temple

Drug addicts journey to vomit and vow at Thai temple

Fifteen-year-old Wanchai Nuantasiri is one of more than a dozen drug addicts kneeling in a row, vomiting violently into the gutter.

Monks in dark brown robes stand behind the sick, rubbing their backs encouragingly, while onlookers dance and clap cheerfully to an incessant drum beat.

Shared via AddThis

Critics: Juvenile Prisons Becoming New Asylums

So often a component of substance abuse and addiction includes an undiagnosed, underlying mental heath concern, or, what is referred to as a "co-occurring disorder". When depression, anxiety, bi-polar disorder or any number of related mental health concerns happens to be present, this can compound an existing genetic predisposition toward addiction as an individual seeks relief through self-medication with alcohol, prescription or illicit drugs. If you suspect your child may suffer from a mental health concern, do not hesitate to intercede immediately with QUALIFIED psychiatric, medical professionals. Medicating a child is an issue that should only be done after careful consideration and full knowledge of potential harmful side effects and consequences.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Healthcare Reform Must Prioritize Treatment for Addictions, Mental Health, Report Says

Healthcare Reform Must Prioritize Treatment for Addictions, Mental Health, Report Says

Shared via AddThis

How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents

Every parent dreams of a healthy, productive and fulfilling future for their child. However, the sobering truth – and greatest threat to that future -- is that nearly every child in America will be offered drugs or alcohol before graduating high school.

Based on nearly two decades of research at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA*) at Columbia University, and his experience as Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare, CASA Founder and Chairman Joseph A. Califano, Jr. has written a comprehensive, straightforward, readable and usable guide to keeping kids drug free during their formative pre-teen, teen, and college years.

In HOW TO RAISE A DRUG-FREE KID, Califano expands on CASA’s two most important findings – the child who stays away from drugs, tobacco, and abusing alcohol until age 21 is virtually certain to steer clear of these substances forever, and teens who learn about the risks of drugs from their parents are much less likely to try them. The book also offers advice on many of the most daunting parenting topics, including:

* When and how to talk to your kids about drugs and alcohol.
* How to respond when your kid asks, “Did you ever try drugs?”
* How to know when your child is most at risk.
* How to prepare your teen for the freedoms and perils of college.

Visit the website at: www.StraightDopeforParents.org

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Substance Abuse Signs in Teens or Children

What are some of the signs that my child may be using or abusing drugs or alcohol? A few of the many substance abuse symptoms are outlined below.

• Child has been experimenting with drugs or alcohol.
• Child has been found in possession of drug paraphernalia.
• Child admits using drugs or alcohol.
• Child has been having problems with law enforcement.
• Child has been having problems with school.
• Child has been having problems with authority figures.
• Child has expressed concern or loss of control over their life.
• Child has shown lack of motivation or concern for their future.
• Child has begun to neglect their appearance or hygiene.
• Child has shown unexpected weight loss.
• Child has been stealing/borrowing money.
• Child has developed a poor self-image.
• Child has changed friends.
• Child has changed dress or appearance.
• Child has slipped in grades or job performance.
• Child has been skipping school or classes.
• Child has started to lie or have manipulative or deceptive behavior.
• Child begins to show disrespect or disregard of family values.
• Child has run away from home.
• Child starts ignoring curfews or house rules.
• Child has demonstrated violent outbursts or hostility toward friends/family.
• Child has become depressed or withdrawn.
• Child has injured themselves or others.
• Child begins to possess unexplained valuables.
• Child takes valuable items or money from your purse, wallet or home.
• Child has lost interest in healthy activities.
• Child has become verbally or physically abusive.
• Child had glassy/red eyes.
• Child has slurred speech.
• Child develops reckless or inappropriate behavior.

Any of the above may be indicators of a serious, potential substance abuse problem, which may warrant that a child submit to an involuntary assessment and stabilization under the Florida Marchman Act.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Shame - by Howard Spector

There are several emotions that parents experience when dealing with a son or daughter who is using drugs. Fear is one, distrust is another, and then there is shame. Fear and distrust are to be expected when your child exhibits certain types of behavior, deception, disrespect, justification and general avoidance of other family members. Traits that are so common among these young people who have made a bad and possible fatal choice in their lives, because once usage becomes addiction, their life will become a living hell.

They will no longer use drugs to feel good, they will use drugs to prevent the unbearable feeling of withdrawal. It is very important that you act on those emotions, whether it is direct communication or intervention if that becomes necessary. Shame should never be part of the equation. In the case of a young drug user, I believe shame is only self serving for a parent and counterproductive for the child.

I feel no shame regarding my son David, who lost his battle with addiction after approximately 20 years of using opiates which started at about the age of thirteen. During the periods in David’s life when he used opiates, he exhibited most of the negative behavior I mentioned above. During the periods of his life, almost a seven year period, from the age of twenty five to the age of thirty two that he did not use drugs, he exhibited qualities that were the real David. He consoled others, ran N.A. meetings, and went into a prison in Florida to hold meetings for inmates.

He went back to college at the age of twenty six, made the dean’s list, and was accepted into a masters PHD program in Psychology at Nova Southeastern University. His dream was to get his degree so that he could help others. How can I have shame?

Why he relapsed (and, within a year he was gone), I will never have the answers and will always have sadness – but, never shame.

I know other parents who have lost a child to drug addiction. I have heard some say their child died of a heart attack or some other mysterious illness. They are concerned about how their friends and acquaintances will view them as the parent of an addict. Most people, who do not understand, tend to criminalize addiction. This is and must be treated as a disease. They are worried about this negative stigma being attached to their status in the community, when they need to be forth righteous helping other parents to understand what to look for , how to deal with and possibly avoid this happening to their child.

All of us parents who have had this tragedy happen in their lives can look back at how we raised our children and think about possible mistakes made, what if I would have created a stronger bond during these formative years, spent more quality time, really focused on the relationship, would it have made a difference? This is only natural, and is a subject for another discussion. Shame or cover up does not belong in any discussion.

I spoke at David’s funeral, first by acknowledging that my son died of an overdose after struggling for twenty years with his addiction. I then went on to talk about the many good things he accomplished in his life. I closed by saying David is and always will be my hero.

The only shame a parent should experience is their own, if each day that they speak to their children they neglect to tell them that they love them, as I now do every time I talk to my daughter.

Addiction Recovery Legal Services, LLC (www.arlshelp.com) wishes to thank, Mr. Howard Spector, a good friend, for his submission and future inclusion in the Broward County Sheriff’s Office Parent Toolkit to battle prescription medicine abuse. © 2009

A Family Guide to the Florida Marchman Act

by Contributor: Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq.
www.linkedin.com/in/raymondgferreroiii/
CEO / Ironlight Consortium, LLC.
 https://twitter.com/iron_light


Let me first introduce myself. I am Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq. I am I am an educator, family advocate, and former partner with the Florida based law firm: Addiction Recovery Legal Services, LLC. During that time, I also served as the Executive Director of Heath Affairs for Nova Southeastern University’s Health Professions Division, Chair of NSU's Institute for Behavioral Health and Wellness, as well as a former Gubernatorial Appointee to Florida's Statewide Drug Policy Advisory Committee.

It is my great pleasure to be writing this brief overview of the Florida Marchman Act for your family. Let me begin by saying that this is an often misunderstood law, which is often (unfortunately) mishandled by well meaning family members or treatment providers, as they attempt to advocate within the legal system without license to do so, or ability. For over a decade, I have been actively involved in Florida’s mental health community and Marchman Act Courts.  I have witnessed the Florida Marchman Act develop from what was once a little known (and, little understood) law into what is now recognized throughout Florida and nationally as one of a family’s most powerful intervention tools to assist someone in substance use crisis within any family unit. Professionally, I take great pride in my work, and find great satisfaction counseling / advising families about how the Florida Marchman Act is able to assist them to address the trauma associated with having to save a loved one in crisis. Personally, I take even greater pleasure when I witness the often surprised reaction a family experiences when they realize that this law actually empowers them to deal with a problem once considered hopeless - head on and without unnecessary delay.

The Florida Marchman Act, when properly litigated by an experienced attorney with a full understanding of the nuances and powers of this law, becomes a legal process that will: (1) establish consequences and hold an impaired individual legally accountable for their continued substance abuse; and (2) empower families with a legal mechanism to interrupt the stranglehold the individuals addiction has on the people around them; and (3) become an invaluable clinical support tool for the recovery team. 

Let’s begin our overview of the Florida Marchman Act…

What is the Florida Marchman Act?

Most simply put, the Florida Marchman Act is an “involuntary commitment statute”. However, I believe it should more aptly be called a "crisis intervention statute." Specifically, the Florida Marchman Act is a legal process and procedure that allows the family OR friends (at least three) of someone in crisis to confidentially petition a civil court judge to help them address their loved one's substance use crisis. So, how does the court help? If the evidence exists, a civil court judge can order the individual in crisis to mandatory drug and/or alcohol “assessment & stabilization” (in layman's terms - a detox) and then into subsequent treatment (that the court will then overseen for up to (60) sixty days. An order that can be extended in 90 day increments with credible evidence demonstrating such a need. 

The key to a Florida Marchman Act "orders for assessment and treatment" are that the period of detox and the subsequent treatment become “involuntary”. Put another way, the impaired individual, or, Respondent, must comply with any and all treatment recommendations made by the licensed substance abuse professional, and/or licensed treatment provider - or, face legal consequences by the court for their non-compliance.  I refer to this as “compulsive care” or “leveraged care”. Accordingly, once the court order has been entered, the person in crisis must complete assessment, stabilization and/or treatment. The person in crisis no longer has a choice in the matter. In fact, even if the individual in crisis has an extensive medical history of relapse, repeatedly refusing voluntary detox and/or treatment, or, has a history of leaving detox and/or treatment against medical advice; once the Florida Marchman Act order is in place, the impaired individual will likely attempt to again refuse care and repeat prior behavior patterns. However, now, in order to do so, they must also deal with the consequences of their actions.

Under the Florida Marchman Act, if an individual refuses to comply with treatment once ordered, they subject themselves to contempt of court and possibly jail time for up to (6) six months (per the Florida Rules of Civil Procedure for civil contempt violations). This may seem harsh, but recognize foremost that the intention of the Florida Marchman Act statute is to provide treatment - not punishment.  The intent of the court is only to see that their order is followed - again, not punish. Accordingly, any person sentenced to jail under the Florida Marchman Act for contempt will always be given a "purge provision". A purge provision means that they can “purge” their jail sentence for contempt at any time by doing one simple thing: re-entering and re-engaging treatment. At all times the person in crisis holds the keys to the jail. This is why I call it leveraged care versus involuntary 
commitment. At no time is the individual allowed to be physically held or restrained - the choice is always their own as to how they wish to proceed.

What is the history of the Florida Marchman Act?

The Marchman Act was passed in 1993 by the Florida Legislature and is officially entitled the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services Act of Florida.  The Marchman Act was named after Hal S. Marchman, a pastor and lifelong advocate for the rights of alcoholics and drug addicts throughout Florida.  Ironically, Hal S. Marchman held worldwide recognition, not for his service to addicts, but as the Chaplain of the Daytona International Speedway, who gave the invocation at the beginning of every race for 42 years before retiring at the age of 85.  Hal S. Marchman passed in October of 2009 in Daytona, Florida.

Why did Florida enact the Florida Marchman Act?

In many ways, Florida is an extremely progressive state in its recognition of the growing trend of substance use across the nation and the need of the state and community to play a role in addressing the consequences that addiction has upon society as a whole.  Especially, when an individual in crisis reaches the progressive stage of addiction whereby their substance use escalates to the point that it poses a danger not only to themselves, but also the public at large. Science has conclusively demonstrated that chronic substance use and abuse of substances can impaired an individual to such a degree that they lose the ability to make rational decisions regarding their own care. More so, that the person in crisis actually loses the ability to even appreciate their own need for care despite the devastatingly negative consequences associated with the substance use. Left unchecked this will progress along the typical stages of clinical addiction toward death. The Florida legislature recognized that an avenue for intervention (without criminal penalty) was necessary for the protection of society and the impaired individual. Thus, the Hal S. Marchman Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services Act of Florida was adopted and entered into law in 1993.

Specifically, The Florida Marchman Act – F.S. §397.305 recognize(s):

“Substance abuse is a major health problem and leads to such profoundly disturbing consequences as serious impairment, chronic addiction, criminal behavior, vehicular casualties, spiraling health care costs, AIDS, and business losses, and profoundly affects the learning ability of children within our schools and educational systems. Substance abuse impairment is a disease which affects the whole family and the whole society and requires specialized prevention, intervention, and treatment services that support and strengthen the family unit.”

When should you actually consider using the Florida Marchman Act?

That is actually a simple decision. The friends or family of an individual in crisis should consider pursuing Florida Marchman Act intervention, if the individual in crisis simply refuses  any offer of assistance despite the clear substance use concern. This includes individuals who continuously promise to get help but never take any steps to do so. Remember, addiction is well established as a progressive disease. Addiction is disease that simply does not get better on its own over time, if left untreated. In fact, the opposite is true. Addiction is a chronic medical condition that is progressive in nature (having well-defined stages) that can only be first treated by abstinence. Without intervention and immediate abstinence, addiction is not only a chronic disease; addiction is a fatal disease. Those are the facts. Accordingly, the sooner one intervenes in the progression of an individual’s chronic substance use the better.

Just to be clear, although I said above that the decision seek Marchman Act assistance is a simple one, please do not get the impression that I fail to recognize the difficult decision a family faces, when deciding to seek court assistance for a loved one in crisis. It is a terrible thing to have to do in the grand scheme, but in most cases the only thing that can be done. There are also many factors that a family must consider. When counseling a family, I typically ask them to consider the following: (1) the behavior of the person in crisis, and their substance use will continue until some overriding, significant uniquely personal consequence interrupts their use cycle; (2) most often, the person in crisis does not get better alone, or without great (unnecessary) hardship without something being done to assist them; and (3) there are ultimately only two possible outcomes for an individual who progresses through the stages of chronic substance use and addiction: jail or the morgue. 

Is this a big decision? Yes, this is a big decision.  However, I cannot stress enough, Florida Marchman Act courts are truly nothing to be intimidated by or feared. The Florida Marchman Act courts exist to help families and individuals in crisis. Even in a scenario, where a family only has a mere suspicion that a person is substance abuse impaired (instances often experienced by the parents of juveniles or young adults), filing a Florida Marchman Act can be an incredibly effective tool to simply uncover what (if anything) is actually going on. Also, there is absolutely nothing harmful that will result from initiating this process for anyone involved - if, properly addressed by legal counsel. The person filing a Florida Marchman Act and the person on the receiving end of a Florida Marchman Act have nothing to lose and everything to gain. Remember: The Florida Marchman Act is a civil process, not criminal.  All hearings are held in closed courtrooms and the process is strictly confidential in nature.  Filing a Florida Marchman Act will never impose a criminal court ramification upon a person's legal record. The intent of the Florida Marchman Act is treatment, not punishment.  More so, because addiction is a medical condition, the Florida Marchman Act process as mentioned previously is strictly confidential. Any and all assessment and/or treatment records; including the Florida Marchman Act petitions, are protected by Federal HIPPA law (the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996).  Accordingly, being proactive versus reactive in these situations is incredibly helpful.  Don't simply wait and hope that things will somehow get better.

What are the criteria required to prove a Florida Marchman Act case?

Before I discuss the criteria of the Florida Marchman Act, let me first thank you for taking the time to read this brief overview. I hope that this information was helpful.  Everyone knows someone who may be in need of substance abuse services, so feel free to pass this information on to another.  This information can save families years of frustration and thousands of dollars in treatment costs.

In conclusion, I leave you with the following criteria established by the Florida Marchman Act statute that I review with every family I counsel.  More often than not, simply hearing the following criteria becomes their “Ah-ha” moment for recognizing that a loved one truly needs help and recognizing that The Florida Marchman Act is the next step they need to take:

"A court may grant a Petition for Involuntary Assessment, Stabilization and/or Treatment, if there is a reasonable belief that the individual is substance abuse impaired and the individual: 

(a)   has lost the power of self-control with respect to substance use;

and, either

(b)   has inflicted or is likely to inflict physical harm on him/herself or others unless admitted;

 or 
(c) the person's judgment is so impaired they are incapable ofappreciating the need for care and making a rational decisionregarding such care;

or

(d)   the person has refused to seek voluntary care.

Raymond G. Ferrero III, Esq., A Family Guide to the Florida Marchman Act © 2008

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How do I file a Marchman Act Petition?

Call 1-877-35-ABUSE for a $75.00 detailed consultation by attorney Alan S. Levine, Esq. The above overview has been offered as a general overview of the Florida Marchman Act process. Litigating the Florida Marchman Act statute should be done by an attorney well versed and experienced in Florida Marchman Act law. As in any legal procedure, you should always seek the advice of an experience legal professional to ensure the best possible approach for success.