Never before in history has drug rehabilitation been such a profitable business. In previous decades, drug addicts were stereotypically either the rich and famous who could afford their own rehabilitation programs and shouldered the cost, or low-income addicts taken care of through government programs. Due to the epidemic of opioid use and the changing face of the “addict,” drug recovery programs have become big business and are bringing in enormous profits from both wealthy and middle-class sufferers around the nation.
When someone has an addicted family member, they may turn to the internet and use search engines like Google to get them the help they need. The problem is that not all drug rehabilitation programs are certified or monitored, which is leading to a whole host of trouble. Many “drug rehabilitation” centers that are advertising online are not fit to be in operation and are not only a waste of time, but in some instances, they could potentially be dangerous.
Answering the cry of many health advocates regarding drug rehabilitation program advertising, just last week Google admitted that it was a problem that needs to be addressed. When it comes to rehabilitation program ads, they acknowledged that there need to be tighter constraints about what claims can be made and to crack down on fraudulent advertising for drug addiction treatments.
There have only been two other occasions when Google has taken steps to police ads. To date, Google has only limited ads for payday loans and locksmiths for the safety of their users. In both industries there was a high likelihood of fraud, so Google took actions to limit their responsibility and restricted who can advertise and what they could claim in their advertising.
The aim is to limit the most popular marketing used in the drug rehabilitation industry by limiting specific phrases that can lead to fraudulent advertising. Many of the largest and most successful drug and alcohol rehabilitation centers in operation are in warm climates like Arizona, California, and Florida. But they attract people from across the nation looking for the best drug rehab centers to get loved ones clean. Remote drug rehabilitation facilities attract their clientele through the use of keywords such as “alcohol treatment centers” or “drug rehab.”
As of last week, Google has stopped selling any ads related to drug rehabilitation searches. They do maintain the right to open the ad category up again if they can find a more reliable way to weed through the fraudulent sites and protect consumers.
What those fraudulent centers have figured out is that ads for drug and alcohol addiction are among the most lucrative ads currently on search engines. Providers are willing to pay $70 or more per click, which is exponentially more than ads within other categories. With drug rehabilitation being such an emotionally devastating topic for many families, consumers are desperate to get the help they need and will pay big money to find answers.
Statistics show that drug addicts can pay upward of tens of thousands of dollars for a thirty-day treatment program, which is why if a rehabilitation centre can even get someone to click on their ad, they are willing to pay big bucks.
Driving the problem is the fact that although drug abuse continues to increase, there are no real standard guidelines for care. Facilities offer everything from yoga to music therapy, but unlike other illnesses, there are no protocols that an institution has to incorporate to call themselves a “rehab facility,” meaning many facilities can advertise and take in patients whether or not they have a program that works. That means that the company with the greatest presence on Google is likely to corner the market and convince patients to use their facilities, all while taking in money from private insurance companies.
Drug rehabilitation is likely the only resource that America has in place to deal with the rising addiction rates in America and the epidemic of overdosing. It’s a big business, and many health advocates are giving Google accolades for holding drug treatment facilities responsible for the claims they make and ensuring that they earn their reputation, rather than paying for it at the cost of patients’ lives and suffering families.