Mental Health Division


Substance Abuse FAQs


Who can file a petition to have a person assessed for substance abuse?


If the person in question is an adult, a petition to have him or her examined may be filed by a spouse, guardian, relative, physician, psychologist, clinical social worker or three adults who have personal knowledge of his/her substance abuse. 

If the person in question is a minor, a petition to have him or her examined may be filed by a parent, legal guardian, legal custodian or a service provider.



Why do I have to come to the courthouse to file a substance abuse petition?


The petition to have a person examined, assessed or treated for substance abuse must be based upon the sworn testimony or personal knowledge of the petitioner(s). Therefore, you must appear in person to take an oath.



Do I need an attorney to file a substance abuse petition?


No. However, the law requires that an attorney be appointed to represent the interests of the respondent.



Why is it important to know where a person is at the time a petition is filed?


According to Florida law, a petition seeking to commit a person for examination, assessment or treatment of substance abuse must be filed in the county where the person is located. It is also necessary for law enforcement to locate the person at the time the court order is filed.



How long will a person remain in a facility if committed?


If the person is committed for the purpose of assessment, he/she must be assessed within 5 days. Following the assessment, the person is released pending a court hearing. If the person is committed for treatment, he or she may not be detained for more than 60 days unless the court orders an extension upon a petition for renewal.



Can I file a petition for commitment if a facility discharges the patient during the assessment period?


Yes, but there is a waiting period required to do so. A qualified professional must assess the patient to determine whether further involuntary treatment is required. If not, the patient is released or referred for treatment on a voluntary basis.



Are substance abuse court records confidential?


Yes. According to Florida law, the records of a substance abuse service provider are confidential. All other court records are open for public inspection unless the court orders otherwise.



Who pays for the treatment of substance abuse?


Service providers who receive state funds may not deny services based solely upon an individual's inability to pay for treatment, provided that adequate space and resources are available. A person who has receives treatment, or the parent or legal guardian of a minor who receives treatment, must contribute toward the cost of substance abuse services.



Where in Orange County are people evaluated for mental illness?


A person who is committed for involuntary examination must be taken to the nearest receiving facility. Orange County receiving facilities include:

Center for Drug-Free Living            
501 North Orange Avenue
Orlando, Florida 32801
(407) 245-0012      
Temporary Living Center*
1717 Piedmont-Wekiva Road
Apopka, Florida 32703
(407) 880-1221     

* Temporary Living Center only accepts female patients who are pregnant or who have recently had a baby.