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Google starts showing rehab ads again after a lengthy ban

You'll start seeing addiction treatment ads on Google again.
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Towfiqu Photography via Getty Images

Google will start showing ads for addiction treatment centers again nearly a year after pulling them down in the US, now that it has vetted and verified almost 100 facilities. If you'll recall, the tech giant banned those types of ads in the US late last year following reports that some of the top results in the category lead to sketchy referral services. These referral call centers earned a ton of money for sending vulnerable people to expensive treatment facilities that aren't equipped to help them overcome their addiction. The ban went global back in January, and a few months later, Google came up with a way to vet the treatment centers that want to advertise on its ad platform.

Google turned to medical business certification service LegitScript to certify treatment providers and make sure they're compliant with state legal and regulatory licensing requirements. If it doesn't pass LegitScript's 15-point check list, it won't appear on Google's search results. The Portland-based company told TechCrunch that the big G originally wanted to open advertising to 30 facilities only, but the partners had to expand the first wave of verified facilities to nearly 100, since they were inundated with applications. Some of the first centers that can advertise on Google are run by Recovery Centers of America (RCA), which understands and supports the tech giant's actions.

Grant McClernon, RCA's director of marketing strategy and operations, told TC: "What they were trying to get rid of were these 'lead aggregators' that were posing as treatment centers, but were basically selling the patients. They wanted people who were operating under state scrutiny, providing real treatment." RCA's director of communications Bill Koroncai added that the company "supports Google's work to weed out the unethical providers in the industry."

The pool of approved facilities is bound to grow from here. To prevent sketchy providers from slipping through the cracks, the service will check on verified facilities every year to ensure that they're still complying with legal requirements and aren't taking advantage of people who just want to get better.

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