Google Lifts Ban on Addiction Rehab Ads

Illustration for article titled Google Lifts Ban on Addiction Rehab Ads
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For several months, Google did not allow any ads for recovery-oriented services to appear when you searched drug addiction-related terms. But the search giant is easing up on its rehab-related restrictions, TechCrunch reports.

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Google began cracking down on addiction rehab ads last September following a report from The Verge about ads for costly rehab institutions that provided questionable therapy. In January, Google started banning these types of ads across the world.

At the time, Google told TechCrunch that the company had “decided to suspend ads in the entire addiction treatment center category globally while we consult with experts to find a better way to connect people with the treatment they need.”

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Google then collaborated with LegitScript, a pharmacy and treatment regulation service that applies a 15-standards approach when determining if an addiction treatment provider is a legitimate operation or a scam. According to these checkpoints, LegitScript checks things like the location (professional setting or a home), staff licensing, criminal history, and proof of insurance.

A Google spokesperson told Gizmodo that the company actually announced in April it would begin allowing ads from LegitScript-approved addiction services this summer, but only in the U.S. The new policy is getting attention this week after Recovery Center of America (RCA) announced it has been approved to advertise on Google’s AdWords platform.

“What they were trying to get rid of were these ‘lead aggregators’ that were posing as treatment centers, but were basically selling the patients,” RCA marketing director Grant McClernon told TechCrunch. “They wanted people who were operating under state scrutiny, providing real treatment.”

RCA spokesperson Bill Koroncai told TechCrunch that the company supports “Google’s work to weed out the unethical providers in the industry” because “it was a wild wild west out there.”

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[TechCrunch, Google]

Former senior reporter at Gizmodo

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DISCUSSION

Props to Google on this one. There have been a number of stories here in SoCal over the last few months about a lot of these rehab facilities and “sober living homes” that have popped up. While there are a lot of legitimately good ones out there, there are also a lot that just appear to be taking advantage of the people they want to help due to lax regulations. It sucks that there are those out there that want to take advantage of those in need of treatment, but at least they have one less tool to use to find new victims.