Marketing Addiction Recovery Services


The addiction epidemic continues to plague our community. We’re just beginning to receive data outlining the economic impact on a national basis, but we know it’s a problem that not only affects families but also businesses and the healthcare community. It’s now opening the door for marketing recovery centers, but how effective are the efforts?

MArket Potential

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) latest report estimates that the addiction treatment market is about $35 billion per year and is estimated to reach $42 billion by 2020. SAMHSA also reports that 3.8 million people (12 years or older) received addiction treatment in 2016. Compare that to the 20.1 million people (12 years or older) that required treatment in 2016 and it’s clear there’s an unmet demand for addiction treatment. In fact, among those who required treatment, only 1 in 10 (10.6%) actually received it.   

The Challenges


Out of the people who abuse drugs or alcohol, not everyone realizes that they require treatment or even that the problem exists. For instance, according to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 24.2% of people ages 12 or older reported binge drinking within the past 30 days, but less than two percent of people ages 12 or older received treatment for substance abuse in 2016.


According to a 2017 survey, 97% of consumers search for businesses online and 73% of consumers say positive reviews make them trust a business more. Clients searching for treatment options want to know that your services have been successful for someone like them. Reviews and testimonials play a substantial role in a client choosing which treatment center is best for them. Building trust and establishing relationships with current clients is the first step in encouraging them to post positive reviews about your service. The more positive reviews you have, the better your reputation will be.


Society is reluctant to view substance addiction for what it is: a treatable medical condition. Instead, society insists on viewing substance abuse as a personal weakness. Because of this stigma, people seeking treatment for addiction are often hesitant or embarrassed to search for recovery centers or engage with recovery pages online. Treatment centers have the challenge of making people realize that their substance abuse is out of their control and can be treated like any other medical condition.


Many addiction treatment centers get the majority of their new patients from referrals.  Whether it is a physician, a pastor, or a counselor, people tend to trust recommendations from their personal contacts more than a stranger’s. That’s why co-branding with community organizations and establishing relationships within the community is essential for gaining new clients.


According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), the chronic nature of this disease means that relapse is likely in people with addiction. Substance abuse relapse rates are comparable to rates for diabetes, asthma, and hypertension. In fact, 40 to 60 percent of recovering addicts eventually relapse. This rate presents a unique problem in establishing validity for recovery centers as being successful. Having repeat clients means success rates are not high enough to look attractive to the audience.

Understanding the Issues

Recently we conducted focus groups with people in recovery to uncover some critical answers on when, why, and how they made the decision to enter recovery. We also tested campaign creative. The key issue we uncovered was the consumer condition.

When using drugs or alcohol, the audience described themselves as being “in the madness”, which is state of mind where the individual comprehends very little and intentionally zones-out most communications. While the audience related to the campaign materials, they clearly communicated that they would pay little attention to the materials until the critical point of seeking help.

Varying Strategies

Marketing addiction recovery may present unique challenges but it’s still possible. The key is to consider each challenge individually and weigh your options in overcoming them. Invest in a variety of marketing strategies, compare the results, and determine which methods are most rewarding.

For example, to overcome the social stigma and invite people to engage with your online channels, consider investing in an online campaign to spread awareness about addiction recovery. As for tackling the trust and reputation challenge, consider gaining and improving online reviews as well as investing in your third-party visibility. By diversifying your approach, you are able to identify the most effective strategies for marketing your recovery center.


Want to learn more about marketing addiction recovery services? Connect with us below. 

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