Accreditation Even More Important as Google Cracks Down on Addiction Treatment Ads


The New York Times has recently reported that Google has begun implementing new advertising restrictions on searches for addiction treatment centers in the United States. The online search engine has eliminated ads that appear when a search is done using specific phrases, including “drug rehab” and “alcohol treatment centers”, among others that treatment providers have been willing to pay up to $70 per ad click for. Reasons for Google’s bold move include the practice among some marketers to use the internet as a mechanism to target people suffering from addiction, and their families, offering them often sub-par clinical services based on the highest bidder, and making out-of-state recommendations solely to collect a referral fee.

With overwhelming misinformation about treatment providers so widespread and predatory, Google felt it ethically necessary to eliminate an undoubtedly significant source of revenue. However, it can be a daunting task for someone in need of services to determine which treatment providers are both effective and ethical. One key consideration in making this often life-saving decision is to determine whether a rehab facility is nationally accredited by a reputable accrediting agency.

By earning national accreditation, a human services organization has been thoroughly reviewed by an independent, external panel of experts in its field, known as an accrediting body. The rigorous guidelines and criteria set by all nationally recognized accrediting bodies require that a level of excellence and accountability is met and consistently maintained by any organization seeking their seal of approval. An organization, in this case, an addiction treatment provider, must demonstrate compliance with the accrediting body’s standards and undergo a comprehensive onsite survey. Earning national accreditation provides external credibility and helps validate the quality of care an organization provides. It is often easy to determine whether a provider is accredited as this will be prominently displayed on the organization’s website. Or, treatment providers may be found directly on the accrediting bodies’ websites, namely: The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO), CARF International and Council on Accreditation (COA).

When searching for information on an addiction treatment center for oneself or for a loved one, it is beneficial that Google has removed misleading ads, but an internet search alone is not enough. For the patient, knowing that a treatment center has earned national accreditation ensures a level of care that meets best practice standards, which is paramount to successful therapy. For the treatment center itself, achieving national accreditation is no small undertaking, and can be what sets one program apart from others. Accreditation is more important than ever for a rehabilitation facility to demonstrate its commitment to ethical business practices and quality care and treatment.


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