Google Shuts Down Addiction Treatment Advertising, but Continues to Sell Pharmaceutical Ads - Many Are Upset

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A recent article appearing on describes Google's actions "as a failed PR stunt," as Google recently stopped showing ads for addiction treatment searches - while they continue to allow ads to the pharmaceutical companies selling the drugs. That means you can still advertise on the drugs that are the root cause of the opioid crisis, but if you need help with an addiction Google has shut those ads down.

Google is still selling ads to big pharma, but they shut down addiction treatment? How is this helping the opioid crisis?

Google is now on the hot-seat as they recently embarked on a crusade to help combat the opioid crisis. A decision that was initially praised, now in hindsight may have inadvertently made things worse. As per our article reports on that things went from bad to terrible when it was realized that Google, by ceasing all ads on addiction treatment, may have actually driven more traffic to the companies they set out to fight. That's not good.

The article explains that Google's decision was well received at first, but nearly a month later it seems as though there may have been some unforeseen (and potentially detrimental) consequences. Citing a NY Times article, Google was trying to stop large call centers and shady treatment facilities that were brokering individuals seeking treatment to the highest bidder. These companies would use false advertising to collect the individuals information (as if they were a real treatment center) and then just sell that info off. This allowed a growing number of companies to effectively take advantage of the opioid crisis - so no one seems to disagree that something needed to be done.

However, the article takes issue with Google's decision to remove all addiction treatment advertising, instead of implementing a process to confirm legitimate facilities (like they do for other industries, such as big pharma). They allege that the unforeseen result of this move was that all addiction treatment traffic is now pointed to Google's organic results - but guess who owns the vast majority of those top organic listings? Of course, the large national call centers (a.k.a. the exact companies Google was trying to weed out).

Google, deliberately or not, seems to have created a huge problem in the addiction treatment industry. Making matters worse, they've been unresponsive regarding what they plan to do about it.. The growing frustration has finally reached a boiling point and we've led the way with a petition asking Google to remedy the situation. For more information, see the full article at

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Justin Ober
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