Posted On June 24, 2022

The Invisible Cohort That Drives Admissions At Rehabs That No One Talks About

The Invisible Cohort That Drives Admissions At Rehabs That No One Talks About -

There are two groups of people who reach out for treatment. One is a group that is experiencing the addiction and the other is the people that care and love the addict. In this post, we’re largely going to refer to the addict seeking treatment, but also discuss the latter group that’s key to successful admissions.


Before a call comes into a rehab center, the person calling weighs a few options. They search around the web, talk with their PCP, care professionals like therapists, and maybe even friends and family before making the decision to call your center. And some times, this call might come from the support crew and not the addict.


That call was a culmination of that long journey. But it also marks the start of another. A rehab caller was at one time a denial-laden addict or a loved one of the addict i.e they were addicted first and much later, if at all, they thought of treatment.


This means their first searches weren’t about treatment. They were about symptoms, causes, chemical mixtures, effects, treatment methods, if there’s a way out, etc. But somehow, somewhere something happened that made them seriously look into getting treatment for their addiction.


So let’s understand these paths a little more. The paths that are before, during, and after “recovery” becomes an important thought in their mind. And for a drug rehab running a lot of digital marketing, understanding these paths is critical to the success of their programs.


The Path To Understanding The Addiction


Left unchecked and in solitude, an addiction can keep advancing for a long time. So there needs to be a societal intervention somewhere, somehow. Whether it’s a statement made by someone important or a group of peers, or a breakdown in health – depending on where they are in the addiction – this can trigger the need to check themselves.


This is where the solo journey begins, albeit haphazard and with no conviction. Quick searches here and there on their iPhones. Battling denial, many aren’t even ready to face the fact that they have a real problem on their hands. 


But then, there are many different personas of an addict; the high-functioning alcoholic who has a day job. Or the cocaine addict who uses to manage the pressures of their life. And many more. So depending on the persona, this first path of understanding and acceptance takes time. 


It can take a few days to a few years, and sometimes that acceptance might never come.


They are trying to understand if drinking a bottle of wine daily, even if they’re able to function coherently, is a problem. 


They are trying to understand if their dependence on pain medication is really for the underlying pain, or something else?


They are beginning to wonder why their partner/wife/husband thinks starting the day with cocaine instead of a coffee is a problem.


Institutional addiction treatment centers provide helpful content in their blog posts that help answer these questions and cover a great deal of other early stage topics. This can be very good for these early searchers and researchers. The problem is people need to search for it by their own freewill. And as we know, not many addicts are accepting of the fact that they are addicts so they won’t be searching for it. This is where thought-invoking video or display ads for the rehab can help by getting a well-functioning addict to take a look in the mirror and ask the hard questions.


The Path To Evaluating Treatment Options


Most addicts go through the aforementioned turning point that changes their trajectory from addiction to kinda-sorta-recovery. Whether it’s a massive argument with the family, co-workers, or a full-blown overdose putting them in the ER, the thought of ‘treatment’ has crossed their minds by now.


Often, this turning point is a public affair with formidable societal involvement – other people, sometimes even law enforcement, get involved and are now aware of the individual’s addiction. This pushes the addict to seriously consider treatment. 


What happens now is that the digital research gets accelerated by the addict, especially if they’re affected by mild to moderate substance use disorders but we all know that’s not always the case. Those who have progressed into severe addiction, even if they might know they need to fix themselves, stoppages like denial or fear of withdrawal suddenly show face.


The (re)search behavior in this path is largely to understand what their treatment might entail or look like. This might be where they begin to understand the importance of detox, what types of therapies and if it’s a complex disorder, what specialized treatment modalities like DBT, CBT, EMDR, Matrix, etc might come into play.


Among other factors like cost and insurance is figuring out how they want to receive this treatment and never did they think that residential would need serious consideration. All they’ve been thinking about is outpatient and comfortably situating themselves between a PHP or an IOP program. And that might be okay of course, but they are starting to realize that it’s very dependent on the severity of their addiction. 


Some leading treatment centers have content around these topics to guide addicts and loved ones on what’s what. They have videos, infographics and detailed blog posts that explain the differences. With stigma still around, having digital resources to compile information anonymously is extremely helpful. 


The Invisible & Powerful Group That Drives Admissions But Isn’t Marketed To


Regardless of everything going on, getting into treatment is still easier said than done. Close family or friends now understand there needs to be a solid next step. They research in secret, coerce, nudge, or even try and force the addict to begin treatment. Some groups try and assemble to stage an intervention. This is an invisible group that makes most of the decisions that a center needs to market to. Granted, ultimately it’s up to the addict to get into treatment, but in the large majority of cases, this group is the influencer.


Unfortunately, this group is largely uncatered to. The interventionists, when they come into the picture, become the trusted bridge into treatment, but often even getting to an intervention is difficult. This stage is an incredible opportunity to become the de facto choice of families to send their loved ones to. Be it via the interventionist, or via content. Partnering with care providers that assist during this stage, like the interventionists or detox facilities is something centers have been doing for some time. What they forget though, is that there need to be a digital educational component.



Something to note is that each of these stakeholders have different priorities and perform different levels of research. Some barely skim through, and some go deep. Some start at the basics, while some skip straight to treatment. It is during this time they are forming an opinion on treatment centers, individually. Think of this bunch as the front-office and back-office of a Major League Baseball team that decides if a player makes the draft, stays on the roster, gets kicked down to minors or gets traded. 


The Unique Selling Proposition (USP) of your center, along with the credentials and aspects that make the treatment comfortable for the addict, etc need to be directed to these stakeholders.


As part of this research, some of them make calls to centers and they try to make sense of it all. 


The admissions teams that have record call-to-admit rates seem to do things a little differently than most. They provide consultative help for one. They provide a lot more help right in the beginning. For example, most of these leading centers say something along the lines of “If there’s anyone else involved in deciding this route of treatment for ____, I would love to be part of that conversation so I can provide answers to any questions that might arise. I know navigating this process can get a little overwhelming at times.”


Empathy, genuine understanding, and the drive to provide information is ultimately what makes a rep’s name rememberable. Now, this might not be everyone’s cup of tea – we can hear the supervisors saying “They don’t have insurance, wrap it up!” or “You’re spending a lot of time on the phone”. And while they may be right to a degree, training the admissions reps adequately to understand what stage the caller is in can help.


As these stakeholders continue to research and speak to other centers, the ones that grab a firm spot in the stakeholdes’ minds are precisely the ones that get discussed heavily at the family meetings!


Admissions teams need to be more involved and assist without reward. Doing that right there sets them apart from the impersonal call center follow up that most centers do. Teams can send friends/family information on local resources they can access, including Interventionists, Detoxes, NA and AA details. And finally, during follow-ups don’t just appeal to their emotional roller coaster ride – instead, provide them with helpful links to posts on your website. 


The Path To Choosing A Treatment Option & Provider


This is where the rubber meets the road. By now, the stakeholders have made their calls, checked out the website, looked at pictures, pored over staff bios, etc (what, you thought people don’t do that?)


While every other center they contacted continues to blindly and impersonally follow up with them, your center has been helping them and providing helpful material and content in their journey that helped them with their decision. And while they researched more on the web, the retargeting campaigns for your drug rehab kept following them around the internet reminding them why your center is the best pick and why treatment cannot be put on the backburner. This is why there is a good chance they know your admissions teams by first name!


During this stage having conversations with the billing manager are very important. If the admissions rep can discuss how the insurer comes into the picture, if and what the co-pays are, etc — this is very helpful. 



You see, many other call center reps are trained to “flip” the call. They don’t have first hand information so it’s understood that they try to flip the call over to their supervisor or someone who knows better. But this is exactly where the opportunity lies. 


We have seen centers that employ their own admission reps to answer the phones vs hiring a call center do very well with lead-to-admit rates. That’s because the reps have a lot of information at hand that they can deliver in first call. We refer to these as rehab businesses. Not treatment providers. Treatment providers work on their marketing and branding and are actually looking to be reputable centers which is why they have their own admissions reps. They seldom “buy rehab calls” from call centers and even if they do, that’s only to supplement their lead volume. 


The emotional state that callers are in, you don’t want them to get frustrated with a long wait or hold before someone knowledgeable comes on the phone.


At this point, callers are running Google searches for the treatment providers by name that they shortlisted during their research based on various factors, some of which are:


  • Pictures
  • Treatment options
  • Financial requirements 
  • Amenities
  • Testimonials (on website and on other review websites)
  • Website design quality
  • The feel of the website (luxury, old, etc)


This is where having Google Ads for your rehab running, in addition to ranking high by SEO would come in handy. If someone searches your center by name, and you don’t show up, there’s an extremely high chance you’re going to lose admits left and right.


So, What Kind Of Content Marketing Helps Addiction Treatment Centers?


Having content in different formats appeals to different types of people. Blog posts allow you to go pretty deep into a topic via type (like this blog post you’re reading). Whereas video can help expound on topics that are not easily communicatable on text.


Go into your Google Analytics and see what kind of content do your users have the most amount of dwell times on.



But here’s a rough mix for you:


  • Short blog posts
  • Long blog posts
  • 10 minute videos
  • 1 minute videos
  • Infographics
  • Quizzes 
  • e-Books
  • Audio clips/podcasts
  • Interviews with different personas (both in text and video)


If this is all too overwhelming for you and you’re not sure what content strategies work, it might help you to know that we do full content plans for drug rehabs. Even if you want it to be a standalone content development project, we do that and you can handle the SEO aspect. Or we can do both. 


Get in touch!