What is the Baker Act?

The Florida Mental Health Act of 1971 (known as the Baker Act) provides an emergency mental health assessment and a temporary hospital hold for those who are struggling with mental illness. The Baker Act is an emergency measure, reserved for when somebody gets to the point of no longer being able to make decisions for themselves. The Baker Act can be invoked by judges, law enforcement, mental health professionals or physicians. Typically this act is used when someone is threatening suicide or experiencing psychosis (a loss of distinguishing reality).


Under this act, individuals can be held for up to 72 hours in a mental health treatment program. During that 72 hours, they are evaluated by professionals who will either refer to further treatment, extend their involuntary hold, or release them.

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How Florida Addiction Statistics Compare

1. Drug Death Rates in Florida
Between 2018 and 2019, rates of drug deaths in Florida increased from 1.77 to 2.14 deaths per 10,000 people.  Florida remains above the national average, which was 1.69 in 2018 and 1.92 in 2019. While those statistics include categories like drug-induced suicides and homicides, the state is also above the national average specifically for drug overdose deaths.

2. Opioid Prescribing Rates

In 2017, Florida prescribing physicians wrote 60.9 opioid prescriptions per 100,000 Floridians. While this is the state’s lowest rate of opioid prescribing since 2006, it remains higher than the national average, which is 58.7. (Opioid prescriptions includes common terms like Codeine, Vicodin, Morphine, Oxycodone and even Methadone).

3. Drinking in Florida

The last data from the Florida Department of Children and Families shows 52.7% of adults drank monthly (or more). Slightly fewer Floridians drink compared to the national average of 53.7%. The binge-drinking statistics for Florida are also lower than average 15.1% of the population versus 17.4% for the rest of the country. (Binge drinking is defined by men consuming more than 5 alcoholic beverages or women consuming more than 4 alcoholic beverages in a two-hour span).

4. Drunk Driving Deaths in Florida
In Florida, 27% of all automobile fatalities are caused by alcohol-impaired drivers. This is on par with the national average.  However, some counties are much worse than the state and national average.

  • Dixie County 70% of driving deaths involved alcohol.
  • Union County 50% of driving deaths involved alcohol.
  • Walton County – 45% of driving deaths involved alcohol.
  • Putnam County 44% of driving deaths involved alcohol.

6. Mental Health Rankings in Floria

In 2020, Florida ranks #32 (out of 50) for overall mental health by Mental Health America. The below-average ranking is driven by access to treatment. The state ranks top 12 for the lowest prevalence of mental health issues, but in the bottom 12 for treatment access.

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