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Addiction Treatment Certification One Year In: Why It’s More Important Than Ever

LegitScript's Addiction Treatment FAQ page.

LegitScript recently celebrated the one-year anniversary of the launch of our Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Certification program, and our certification team reflected on both the  lessons and accomplishments of this monumental program. As a member of the customer success team, I see firsthand the value our customers get out of certification. But more importantly, as someone who has witnessed addiction up close, I understand how crucial certification is for patients and their families.

When we officially launched on July 23, 2018, the overarching goal was to make the digital marketing space for addiction treatment providers more transparent, so that those looking for addiction treatment options could better find the help they need. This need occurred for a multitude of reasons.

The Mental Health Parity and Addiction Equality Act in 2008 allowed for a dramatic expansion in insurance coverage for and access to mental health and addiction treatment services in the United States. Likewise, the Affordable Care Act required all marketplace plans to cover substance abuse services as essential health benefits. This expansion in benefits occurred in symphony with the endemic rise in opioid abuse. In an unfortunate twist of fate, many opportunists entered the addiction treatment space and quickly realized that they could capitalize off the realities of addiction and relapse. This new cache of insurance benefits - coupled with internet marketing opportunities that were otherwise unregulated - created a perfect storm for deceptive marketing practices to flourish. Something needed to be done.

I can say from my own personal experience that when a family member struggling with addiction agrees to go to treatment, it usually comes on the heels of a long, emotional journey. When that moment finally comes to pass, the sense of urgency to find a treatment option can be overwhelming. There often tends to be a limited window of opportunity when a loved one agrees to go to treatment, which prompts a critical need to find treatment options - and to find them quickly.

A common resource to which people frequently turn is the internet. However, prior to Google placing advertising restrictions on all addiction treatment keywords in 2017, it was unclear what type of treatment realities were hiding behind a beautifully designed website. The truth was sometimes horrifying.

Oftentimes, addiction treatment websites made it appear that these providers were local to internet searchers, and they promised levels of care which in truth they did not provide. Once a representative got patients on the phone, suddenly these representatives were booking them flights to where their treatment centers were actually located. From there, many people seeking help for their addiction were separated from their local support systems and could be more easily funnelled through networks of treatment providers - many providing quality care, and many not - for as long as that patient's insurance was still paying.

As the opioid epidemic continues to spread, more people than ever are seeking help for themselves or their loved ones, and they still typically turn to the internet for recommendations, including social media. We were so glad that, after the launch of our program, both Facebook and Bing joined Google in requiring LegitScript certification for all advertisers in the drug and alcohol addiction recovery space. This not only adds value for applicants of our certification program, but it helps protect patients by increasing the visibility of facilities meeting our standards on three of the internet's most important platforms.

Over this past inaugural year, LegitScript's Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment Certification program has certified 700 addiction treatment providers, totaling close to 1,800 individual facilities across the United States. The longer this program exists, the more value it has for patients as more facilities become certified.

To maintain the highest level of integrity for our program, our team of analysts and policy experts continue to robustly monitor the addiction marketing of certified treatment providers for as long as they maintain their certified status. Every day, I help addiction treatment facilities with questions about their applications, and I'm so proud of what we've accomplished. I know that the process can seem daunting because of the amount of supporting documentation, correspondence, and compliance it requires. However, I hear time and again from certified addiction treatment providers that the process is worth it, and not just for the ability to advertise on Google, Facebook, and Bing. They appreciate that our vetting is thorough and robust because when they display the LegitScript seal of approval on their websites, people know they can be trusted. That helps set them apart from the competition.

If you or someone you know is seeking a legitimate addiction treatment provider, please search LegitScript's Check Website Legitimacy feature on our homepage to verify that the treatment provider you are looking for meets LegitScript's standards for legality, safety, and transparency. We're adding more every day.


If you're an addiction treatment provider and would like to learn more about certification, download our free Addiction Treatment Certification Primer.

Our 16-page primer provides you with helpful tips and must-know information to help get you started on your certification journey.

LegitScript provides the only certification service for drug and alcohol addiction treatment providers that is relied on by Google, Bing, and Facebook to vet advertisers for eligibility.


David Khalaf is a writing, communications, and marketing professional with specialties in media, investigations, content strategy, and writing instruction. His 20 years of writing, media, and communications work have included two top-tier universities (USC and UCLA), print and digital magazines, consulting firms, and technology companies.

His current work involves content strategy and development at LegitScript, a company that helps the world's leading search engines, payment service providers, and internet platforms and marketplaces do business with legitimate, legally operating entities in more than 80 countries and 15 languages around the world. LegitScript specializes in risk and compliance for highly regulated industries including CBD/cannabis, online gambling, cryptocurrencies, drugs, financial trading, online adult, scams and fraud, and more.

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