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Google will resume accepting ads from addiction treatment centers following rampant abuse

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After stripping rehab-related search terms from its AdWords platform last year, Google has hired a third-party firm to audit

Photo by Michele Doying / The Verge

Google plans to resume accepting advertisements from alcohol and drug addiction treatment centers following a lengthy period of review, Reuters reports. Google originally stripped rehab-related search terms of advertising on its AdWords platform last September, following an investigation from The Verge detailing how misleading ads from disreputable treatment centers were gaming Google’s algorithms to boost incoming patient numbers.

Google says ads will now be vetted directly by Portland, Oregon-based LegitScript, which monitors online pharmacies for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy to prevent abuse and unauthorized selling of prescription medications. According to Reuters, the new rules apply to in-person rehab facilities, crisis hotlines, and support groups. The rules also mirror those Google has put in place for services like locksmiths and other in-person repairs that could potentially lead to theft or burglary.

As part of the LegitScript’s evaluation, treatment centers must meet 15 criteria ranging from criminal background checks to insurance verification as well as “written policies and procedures demonstrating a commitment to best practices, effective recovery and continuous improvement.” LegitScript plans to charge $995 for an initial verification and then nearly $2,000 each year to update the verification, Reuters reports.