Why I Care About Facebook's New Addiction Rules

addiction treatment marketing facebook rule change legitscript - why I care 

Here at Little Light Copywriting, I've been following the addiction treatment digital marketing certification crack-down with keen interest. The latest site to participate in what I'm lovingly calling "Crack-Down 2018" is my favorite social media darling, Facebook

I care about what's going on at Facebook a lot.


Well, when I worked as a drug and alcohol counselor, the saddest thing a patient could say to me is: "They don't care about me, they just care about the money." 

I heard those words again and again.

Those words haunted - haunted - me.

I believe two things:

  1. No one can get sober without human connection and relationship.
  2. When it comes to treatment, a naked profit motive without a patient-first approach makes that life-saving connection impossible. 

The experience of hearing my patients speak those heart-breaking words inspires what I do today: provide top-notch copwriting services for ethical, patient-first addiction treatment providers who are dedicated to fighting this disease.

I think I'm not alone when I say I want more patients to find good, ethical care for this epidemic. 

Well, good news: Facebook has stepped up to the plate to help make that happen!

Facebook Steps Up to End Unethical Addictions Marketing

As you may have heard, Google (and now, finally, Facebook) changed their rules about who is qualified to advertise addiction treatment services on their sites.

Before these rules took effect, some shady addiction treatment marketers were using these sites as a cheap and easy hunting ground for desperate "marks." Anyone could claim to be an "addiction treatment provider" and all sorts of dark entities were taking advantage of our vulnerable client base with schemes ranging from patient brokering to elaborate insurance fraud.

After Google shut down Google Adwords for all addiction treatment keywords earlier this year, Legitscript came forward as a third-party certifier willing to vet all would-be addiction treatment advertisers for the digital giant. After a practice round of 40 initial certifications, Legitscript announced it's ready to ramp up the certification process. More Legitscript certifications should be rolling out soon.  

Meanwhile, Facebook announced on August 9th that it, too, would be shutting down all addiction treatment advertising. Facebook will follow Google's lead here and partner with Legitscript to vet all advertisers for Facebook and friends: Messenger, Instagram, and Facebook's Audience Network.

How Third Party Certification for Addiction Treatment Providers Works on Facebook and Google 

Those who complete the certification at Legitscript will be qualified to advertise at both Facebook and Google, so Legitscript is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for all addiction treatment marketing certifications. 

Once advertisers are certified with Legitscript, they only need to fill out an addiction treatment center onboarding request form with Facebook—and voila—they are back in business reaching the highly targeted audience Facebook provides so well. 

What About the "Little Guy?"—Small Addiction Treatment Providers and Certification 

As I've said elsewhere, I think certifications are necessary given the rampant abuses in our industry but I also worry that adding another bar to advertising for addiction treatment means that large companies with many locations will have an unfair advantage.

What about small mom and pop treatment providers who can't as easily afford certification?

This problem still niggles at me—and maybe it always will. 

For those not able to fit certification into their budget, there are still fabulous (and free!) options for promoting your services on Facebook. Business pages, for one, are excellent ways to build a brand and connect with your audience directly. For those going this route, shareable content will be more important than ever.

Crack-Down 2018—What's Next?

For now, though, I am pleased to see Facebook jump on the Crack-Down 2018 bandwagon.

I was amused to see that Legitscript intends to collect reports of abusive addiction treatment advertisers on their site, much as they did for phoney pharmacies in earlier years. 

Will Crack-Down 2018 bear fruit? Will we finally see an end to predatory addiction treatment advertising? 

Only time will tell. 

For those seeking certification—good luck on the process! And for those forgoing certification for now—check out my post on Facebook marketing. All the advice in that article still holds. 

As always, I'm here to help. Check out my services page for more information about what I can do to take your treatment business to the next level!

Erin Gilday