Last year, Google barred advertisements from appearing in search results for addiction treatment centers in the United States. Starting last month, however, the company allowed centers with LegitScript Addiction Treatment Certification to run ads on its platform.
Now, Facebook recently announced that it will also require that addiction treatment centers achieve certification before they are approved to advertise on its properties, including Instagram and Messenger. LegitScript, a verification and monitoring service for online pharmacies, charges $995 for initial certification and $1,995 for annual vetting.
Google and Facebook’s advertising restrictions stemmed from complaints about addiction centers that targeted people suffering from addiction, offering sub-par clinical services to the highest bidder or making out-of-state recommendations solely to collect a referral fee. Other disreputable addiction treatment centers inflate staff qualifications and engage in improper billing.
Still, it is important to remember that certification represents a lower standard than accreditation. There is no need to rely on random internet searches to find reputable addiction treatment providers: just determine if a given organization is nationally accredited by an independent accrediting agency.
To earn national accreditation, an external panel of experts conducts thorough on-site scrutiny of addiction and human services organizations to ensure that they adhere to the rigorous guidelines and criteria set by the nationally recognized accrediting bodies. The initial process takes up to a year of preparation and organizations must reapply for accreditation every three or four years to maintain the designation.
National accreditation provides independent third-party validation of an organization’s quality of care. Addiction treatment centers and other human service organizations usually tout this status on their websites. Reputable treatment providers can also be found directly on the accrediting bodies’ websites, including The Joint Commission (formerly JCAHO), the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities (CARF) and the Council on Accreditation (COA).
LegitScript’s certification applies to “any website, application, or merchant that provides information about in-person drug or alcohol addiction treatment, or facilitates in-person or online drug or alcohol treatment, other than at a private residence or non-clinical setting.” Recovery residences that “do not provide clinical services or addiction treatment, provide or purport to provide a cooperative living environment in a non-commercial location (a private residence or similar setting), and are not part of a larger treatment program offered by an addiction treatment provider, are not eligible for certification.”
Read more about the crackdown on addiction treatment advertising online here