A major treatment organization has launched a broad-based consumer website that founders envision becoming a WebMD-like resource for individuals and families researching addiction and recovery. Elements Behavioral Health rolled out Addiction.com in February, keeping Elements' own visibility on the site limited.
“We're looking at establishing a world view, versus a treatment center's view,” says Vera Appleyard, Elements' chief internet and media officer. She adds, “We knew we weren't going to list our rehabs on it.”
While many treatment centers' own websites feature educational information, organizers of Addiction.com are seeking to pull in a much wider universe of experts to comment and educate on a broad range of subjects. Full-time editor Lorie Parch says she wants the site to feature at least a couple of expert bloggers for each addiction addressed in the overall content. She adds that the site will cover a wide diversity of addictions, even in areas where applying the concept of addiction remains in dispute (such as exercise and work).
Appleyard says she had thought for some time about the idea of creating an all-encompassing site for people searching addiction treatment and recovery topics. She discovered that the domain name Addiction.com could be available. “It was owned by one of the people who bought a number of domain names years ago and sat on the names,” she says.
She would not disclose what Elements paid to acquire the domain name, but terms the price “very expensive.” She adds that the organization considered the expense part of a long-term capital investment, and says Elements president and CEO David Sack, MD, liked the idea of creating a forum that would differ from the approach of a typical company website.
Parch says she sees three primary audience segments at this point: people in recovery, people who may believe they need treatment for an addiction, and the loved ones of that second group. She believes that the site will target clinicians at some point down the road as well.
It is also contemplated that advertising opportunities will be made available to outside entities. But at this point, house ads constitute the only advertising on the site; one ad promotes the newly introduced recovery app for alumni and others in recovery.
They also do not intend to shy away from controversial topics, having already posted a debate on the effects of marijuana legalization. They do not consider many topics to be inherently off-limits, although they do acknowledge some strongly held views that are in keeping with Elements' perspective (such as a belief in the concept of sex addiction, a construct that some other treatment professionals question).
Also, says Appleyard, “Even if we give alternative points of view, we don't want to disrespect any one form of treatment over another.”