The American Society of Addiction Medicine recommends that addiction treatment programs should adhere to the following standards related to the marketing of their services and recruiting of patients:

  1. Accurately represent their ability to provide specific services and accurately identify services that are not supported by scientific evidence.
  2. Clearly communicate the treatment program’s status with respect to licensing, certification, and compliance with regulatory requirements.
  3. Accurately represent the competence, education, credentialing, and licensure of the program personnel.
  4. Advocate for ethical guidelines and federal and state legislation to prohibit patient brokering and payment for referrals, and other inducements for patient recruitment.
  5. Avoid marketing strategies that rely on disparaging claims made against differing treatment models or against other addiction treatment programs.
  6. Respect patient privacy and not exploit this vulnerable population in marketing efforts. The practice of using patient testimonials in marketing merits particular examination. In most cases, such testimonials serve the needs of the treatment program rather than the patient.
  7. Include scientific evidence to support claims about the success and efficacy of the treatment services they provide in marketing materials.
  8. Provide accurate estimates about the cost and extent of insurance coverage for treatment and for specific services.
  9. Distinguish educational programs from marketing programs.
  10. The use of social media and search engine optimization in marketing and program promotion should not be deceptive or violate any of the other ethical standards set forth in this Policy.
  11. Eliminate the use of multiple feeder web sites and informational web sites that do not identify the company or center as the origin of information provided.
  12. Establish collaborations with ASAM, the National Association of Addiction Treatment Providers (NAATP), consumer groups, Single State Agencies, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and other stakeholders to develop appropriate legislative measures and evaluation tools to ensure that all consumers have adequate access to accurate information and appropriate care.

Additionally, ASAM recommends that:

  1. State and federal governments develop and make available materials for consumers to detect potential fraudulent marketing and patient recruiting practices.
  2. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) should maintain its Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center as a dynamic tool to help addiction treatment stakeholders identify which treatment approaches are evidence-based.[a]
  3. Individual clinicians providing evaluation, treatment, or referral for treatment of substance-related and other addictive disorders should be held to the same standards for ethical promotion and patient recruitment as are treatment programs.


Full Public Policy Statement from ASAM