March 17th, 2022

Copywriting for Rehab Centers

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Written by Adam Biederman

Adam Biederman is Copycat's co-founder and longest-tenured writer. With more than 2,000,000 words under his belt, he's a scribe-of-all-trades, but his primary focuses are on technical content, new client acquisition, and creative. He currently resides in Santa Barbara with his wife Meghan and baby girl Shiloh.   

When it comes to marketing, some products or services naturally sell themselves. And then there are others that are a challenge, to say the least. Among those, few pose as unique a messaging puzzle as writing for a rehab or addiction treatment center. 

Put simply, copywriting for rehabs is… unconventional. 

The research needed to contextualize the situation is heartbreaking. And yet it’s your job to infuse a sense of hope by exemplifying the core values of the treatment center.

As a writer, you have to remember: A trip to rehab may be the lowest stage of a person’s life—not to mention the hardship on their friends and loved ones. The copywriter represents the first touchpoint that could indelibly alter the course of someone’s life.  

Because of this, you must treat the subject matter and the reader with the utmost sensitivity, understanding, and respect. 

This post will show you how to walk the fine line between marketer and advocate. 

The Content’s Primary Purpose Is Different

In the vast majority of cases, copywriting focuses on accomplishing a few primary goals: 

  1. Creating messaging that persuades readers to take action (think website content)
  2. Drawing in large audiences through SEO content (think blogging, white papers, thought leadership pieces)
  3. Building a connection through regular communication (think email and social)

High-quality copywriting provokes emotion, and emotion drives actions. And while these objectives are important for rehabs, they aren’t the central tenet. Yes, of course, you want to shine a light on the services of the rehab, but not at the expense of those who are suffering.  

To that end, the chief goal of rehab copywriting is to educate, inform, then persuade.

  • Educate – Teach substance users and their loved ones about the dangers of substances, the signs of substance abuse, and the consequences of long-term use.

  • Inform – Provide readers with a potential path toward freedom from addiction, posing the rehab facility, its staff, and its practices as the solution. 

  • Persuade – Demonstrate to the reader that they or their loved one needs help and then describe what steps the rehab center would take to proactively address such issues.

Every step of this must be handled delicately, with a light touch. Overt sales messaging or aloof language will likely harm more than help.  

You’re Not Necessarily Writing to the Patient 

Copywriting aims its messaging at the target audience. You speak directly to the person who most likely needs the service or product. 

Yet with rehab treatment centers, that’s not always the case.

While some individuals who are suffering from addiction will decide to get the help they need of their own volition, more often than not, it's their support system who are the ones conducting the initial research about rehab—people like their parents, spouse, siblings, children, or friends. 

Whomever it is, keep in mind that the person who is looking for this type of information is probably facing a gut-wrenching decision about how to properly intervene in order to save their loved one. 

That’s why it can feel disingenuous to consider “the sales funnel”—as it’s so aptly named in the marketing sector—when writing content. Although the same concept applies.

Concerned individuals may be searching online for a variety of purposes, including:

  • To learn about the substance itself and the consequences of abusing it
  • To confirm that their loved one is addicted (if they aren’t already keenly aware)
  • To see how to best confront their loved one
  • To find treatment options 

These types of searches tend to be highly targeted—even more so if it’s coming from the individual who is suffering from substance abuse. With that in mind, your answers must not only be informative but also written in such a way that the people impacted by addiction feel that you understand them and that the drug rehab facility you represent is the perfect fit for their loved one. 

To help the reader come to that conclusion, authenticity and authority matter. 

What Does the Content Entail? 

Ideally, your written content will touch upon a range of subjects related to the services a clinic provides and the types of patients it serves. This information can be best conveyed through an array of content types, including blogs, eBooks, whitepapers, infographics, and landing pages.  

Within this, there are some key considerations you should keep in mind: 

#1 Proper Subject Matter 

Few internet searchers have the same high “intent levels” as do people seeking out information about addiction. This type of user begins their digital hunt with a clear purpose in mind—discovering everything they can about addiction, substance abuse, and rehab facilities. 

Most start this journey by asking pointed questions directly related to rehab services, such as: 

  • How long does it take to detox from alcohol?
  • What are the side effects of Adderall?
  • Signs of a social drinker vs an alcoholic
  • Understanding triggers for depression
  • Fentanyl withdrawal symptoms
  • What is outpatient rehab?
  • What is inpatient rehab?

As the treatment clinic, your job is to meet the patient where they are. You can do that by building content clusters around keywords and key phrases—these should ideally be answering a frequently searched topic.       

#2 Compassionate Tone 

This type of content is not voicey. There are no amusing anecdotes or clever quips. Your tone should be professional and educational, with a smidge of sweetness. 

Remember, you’re a reflection of the treatment clinic's image and brand, so mirror them.  

As the clinics and the loved ones of those suffering know, addiction can be ugly. Yet this messaging will only alienate and push away those who are seeking help. Rather, the tone must convey empathy and understanding. 

Remember: Compassion and hope are the foundational pillars of a rehab treatment center—this must be reflected above all else in the copy.

#3 Real Messaging  

As a balancing point to the above, compassion and hope must also not downgrade the seriousness of the situation. To advocate for the individual who is suffering, treatment centers must create content that’s based in reality—these are real individuals who are experiencing real suffering.

Addiction centers can share real examples of lives that have been transformed for the addiction center as the optimal fit for their loved one. To that end, addiction treatment centers can include first-party data and content around:

  • Treatment programs and how they’re tailored to specific issues
  • The levels of care that are provided by the rehab treatment center
  • The qualifications and experience of on-site staff
  • The ethos behind your services and what values make you unique
  • How former patients have successfully overcome their addiction

At the end of the day, your goal is to provide hope. You offer comfort in the knowledge that they’re not alone. That there is a solution. That the cycle of additions can be broken. This must be done compassionately, without minimizing the true experience and struggle. 

#4 Research-Driven 

When searching for drug-related and treatment-related information, many people search along two branches:

  • The roots of addiction – They want to know the basic science: what the substance is, what it does, signs of use and abuse, long-term consequences, withdrawal symptoms, and more. 

  • The rehab experience – The other line of inquiry focuses on detox: what it entails, what to expect, how to safely get clean, and what an inpatient stay would be like.  

Both subjects are intrinsically tied to psychology, biology, and pharmacology. As such, any claims you make must be rooted in science and backed up by data. 

This is a rehab center’s opportunity to immediately establish its authority as an expert on the subject matter. Providing informative content, supported by expert quotes and cited statistics, is how you accomplish that. 

The CDC makes for a good starting point. From there, utilizing the National Center for Biotechnology Information, PubMed, and Google Scholar to ensure every statistic is backed up by relevant data taken over the last three to five years will ensure that readers are working with the most up-to-date information. 

Let the Content and Images Speak for Themselves

Rehab centers may be attracted to what’s known in Copycat’s world as “credential padding.” Think of language like “world-class services,” “cutting-edge technologies,” “industry-leading care.” While your rehab center strives to provide these, when it’s the same messaging across industry, you want to narrow in on your differentiation point.

The question treatment centers must ask is: What truly differentiates your team?

From there, provide content, images, videos, and most importantly, proof to show this.

Rehab Center Copywriting—a Delicate Art We Study

Crafting meaningful content for rehab treatment centers requires nuance and deftness. And when you treat the messaging with the respect it deserves, it could be pivotal in a person’s life. The words on each page have the potential to represent a life-saving inflection point in their story. 

This responsibility is one we take on with honor. We’ve assisted numerous rehab treatment centers deploy wide-scale SEO strategies with the above pillars in place. We’ve even debunked many falsified claims that other copywriters had assumed were true.

We’re proud of all the work we do at Copycat—but when it comes to the delicate art of writing for rehabs—that’s more of a badge of honor.

Let us know if we can help.


Sources:

CDC. Drug Overdose. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/prevention/index.html

Mark Twain Project. SLC to David Watt Bowser, 20 March 1880. https://www.marktwainproject.org/xtf/view?docId=letters/UCCL01772.xml;style=letter;brand=mtp

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