The Dilemma: Paid Ads for Addiction Therapies
Are you an addiction therapist?
Your expertise can ease suffering and promote recovery. You must reach the people who need your help. But do you feel conflicted about running paid ads? Do you worry that you might be seen as “capitalizing on the vulnerability” of those experiencing addiction?
That advertising cannot fully represent the effort, commitment, and time required to recover from this illness?
Or that the sensitive nature of your work isn’t well-suited to the advertising medium?
Let me flip the script and provide some food for thought…
What if you don’t reach the people you’re best suited to support — those whose lives you can positively change? What happens then?
They might consult with someone less qualified, less caring, and less able. I’m sure you’ve likely witnessed this in practice before. Clients who you wish had found you earlier.
Maybe the people ready to change their lives won’t find help. They may continue to struggle because you didn’t provide an option. Because you continued to hide your light and their hope under a bushel. Now is not the time to do that.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime’s World Drug Report 2023 found that the number of global illicit drug users increased from 240 million in 2011 to 296 million in 2021. While this escalation is partly due to population growth, it nonetheless means vast numbers of people are using drugs. And that confronting statistic doesn’t include alcohol.
An article published on the American Psychological Association’s website states there are 29.5 million people with alcohol use disorder. And that “more people in the U.S. die of alcohol-related causes than from opioids and other drugs.”
Millions are experiencing drug and alcohol addiction. Many are dying from it.
Yet, stigma can prevent people from seeking help. Your professional service can move the needle so people facing addiction can live better lives.
In short, those experiencing addiction — as you already know — need a therapist like you.
The rise in therapy treatments, including telehealth, has broadened addiction treatment centers’ options. People can seek confidential care from an addiction expert, including online and from the comfort of their homes. However, they must find the right therapist to begin the process and experience success. This is where paid ads that promote such services — your services — come in.
The necessity of running paid ads
Imagine you have an addiction. You feel overwhelmed, desperate, and ready for treatment. But, sifting through therapeutic approaches, treatment centers and therapists can be difficult.
Enter paid ads. By strategically placing ads on platforms that potential clients use, you can position yourself as a reliable and accessible option in the sea of possibilities. You can make the choice easier for a worn-down potential client.
Promoting your services provides hope as well as information. Seeing an ad from an experienced, empathetic therapist can act as the nudge someone needs to start their recovery journey. It offers reassurance that help is available and recovery is possible.
Let’s not forget about competition. Depending on your location and whether you offer Telehealth, many therapists and rehab centers may offer (at least seemingly) similar services. Standing out from the crowd is essential.
Paid ads allow you to highlight your unique selling proposition — your experience, credentials, specialization, approach, bilingual services, or accessibility — to differentiate yourself from others in the field.
Given market competition, the ability for people to connect globally, and the consistent need to reach your ideal clients, targeted ads can be a blessing and a boon.
While it may initially seem counterintuitive, the necessity of running paid ads for addiction therapies or a treatment center becomes more evident when you look at the issue closely, especially as part of a broader drug rehab marketing strategy.
The ethics of addiction treatment marketing
Are you worried about the ethics of paid advertising in the addiction space?
Navigating the ethics of paid ads can feel tricky. Our customers have discussed this dilemma with us: the juxtaposition of their role as healers and therapists against the need to expand their marketing efforts to reach those in need. So, let me put this kindly and directly. You can’t keep your practice doors open if you don’t have clients; if you don’t treat clients, you cannot help anyone.
Advertising isn’t inherently unethical. Think about your car, clothing, holidays, and other items or experiences you value. Those that have improved the quality of your life and added joy to your days. Some of these have been discovered through viewing an ad, right? An ad you are, in hindsight, grateful for.
It’s the content and intention behind advertising that determines its ethical value. As a therapist, your primary focus is helping people recover, providing healing insight and guidance, and enhancing your clients’ quality of life. Your advertising and marketing strategy should reflect this, focusing on educating potential clients about the benefits of therapy, your specific approach to treatment, and why you’re a good choice for an addiction treatment space or drug treatment center.
The quagmire arises when addiction treatment center marketing or addiction therapy marketing exploit a vulnerability or makes misleading claims. This is an unprofessional approach — one you’re unlikely to take, given you’re reading an article on the potential dilemma of paid ads in addiction therapy!
With this in mind, ensure your advertising maintains honesty and transparency. Avoid promises of guaranteed success or quick fixes.
Digital advertising offers various options for ethical addiction marketing. Consider the platform you advertise on and choose appropriate content that will resonate on it. For example, promote engaging content on social media or use search engine advertising or search engine optimization to make your website more accessible to those actively seeking help through search engines. This might look like driving traffic to an informative post about a specific therapy method or interactive question-and-answer sessions where you answer general queries about addiction and its treatment.
By creating a digital marketing strategy that provides valuable, engaging content, you promote your services and positively contribute to the online conversation about addiction recovery and substance abuse treatment.
It’s worth noting that avoiding advertisements doesn’t automatically equate with ethical practice. Shying away from paid ads may limit access for those needing your services.
The key is finding a balance where visibility does not compromise your commitment to providing respectful and effective therapy. Instead of seeing paid advertising as a necessary evil, consider it an essential, ethical tool to connect with people — including potential clients — who could benefit from your services.
Prioritize the legal aspects of advertising
Before you begin to advertise, reviewing the legal requirements is essential. Speak to your board or association if you have any questions.
In addition, read the American Counseling Association’s Code of Ethics.
The American Psychological Association’s Ethical Principles of Psychologists and Code of Conduct, including Section 5: Advertising and Other Public Statements, is helpful.
Lead with ethics, potential and current client privacy and protection, and adherence to regulatory authorities, and you’ll be well-placed for positive outcomes.
The how-to of paid advertising
Hopefully, you’re ready to dive into the potentially game-changing world of paid advertising. This sole step into digital marketing and social media marketing can transform your practice’s impact and growth.
Here are 4 informative articles to guide your success:
- Your Private Practice Guide to Facebook Advertising.
- Online Advertising Guide for Therapists.
- The Six-Step Guide to Google Ads for Therapists.
- How to Write a Better Paid Ad for Your Practice.
Drug rehab marketing ads: Google’s extra step
Because of its sheer size, Google is the most common advertising platform for many therapists. As the addiction treatment industry is a sensitive service, Google requires additional steps to ensure that only ethical businesses advertise on its search engine, including additional verification for recovery centers or rehab marketing services.
Even if you offer a broad range of therapy services, if addiction treatment is listed on your website, Google may flag your ad. You may need to complete these steps.
Visit their support page for more information.
We understand that paid ads can feel intimidating for therapists. But struggling with substance abuse and addiction is serious. You have the skills and experience to help. We believe there’s an ethical responsibility to reach out to and help people who need treatment.
The ethical challenges advertising presents can be navigated responsibly by focusing on honesty, transparency, and the intention to genuinely help others.
Choose a suitable medium, offer engaging and informative content, and respect potential clients’ privacy. Consider and abide by legal considerations and always stick to your professional codes of conduct.
And remember: while it may feel like a balancing act, once effectively implemented, paid advertising can significantly extend the reach of your practice, ultimately connecting you with those who need your expertise the most. This not only supports individuals in recovery but also contributes to the broader fight against addiction.
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