MINNEAPOLIS (CN)- Websites associated with Freedom Healthcare of America and Addiction Enders are using deceptive practices and unauthorized trademark material to mislead consumers seeking addiction treatment away from the Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation, according to a federal lawsuit filed in Minnesota this week.
The 30-page complaint accuses the two addiction treatment companies of using their websites, and the phone numbers and trademarked content on those websites, of falsely promoting Hazelden’s treatment centers only to direct consumers to other treatment centers in different states.
The lawsuit claims Addiction Campuses and Addiction Enders are using the Betty Ford name in order to deceive people seeking help with addiction and lead them away from Hazelden’s resources.
In an emailed statement, a Hazelden spokesperson said that “As a leader in the addiction treatment industry, we sometimes see our name and brand used by others without our permission in ways that we think are illegal and harmful to consumers.”
“This legal action,” the statement says, “is another way we are fighting against unscrupulous practices in our field and advocating for people who need help.”
The website associated with Freedom Healthcare of America, which does business as Addiction Campuses, has the term “Hazelden” displayed prominently at the top of a list of “Drug Rehab Centers in Minnesota,” immediately next to a series of phone numbers that connect a consumer with a “treatment specialist,” according the complaint.
However, Hazelden says that none of the phone numbers listed connect clients with them, nor are the phone numbers affiliated with Hazelden in any way. The complaint states that Hazelden is not aware of any referrals they have received from the website or from those phone numbers.
The complaint details an April 28, 2018 instance in which a person was looking for substance abuse treatment specifically from Hazelden. The number they called, thinking it would connect with Hazelden, instead connected to a representative that referred them to the Swift River treatment center.
Addiction Enders’ website features Hazelden’s brand and trademarked material in much the same way. On its website, “Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation” is displayed in the center of the page right above a phone number that is in no way associated with the foundation.
An emailed statement from Addiction Campuses said they were not aware of the lawsuit.
“The Addiction Campuses Office of Public Relations has no knowledge of this complaint and to our knowledge no one in our organization has been served with any official documentation regarding the matter beyond what was sent to us by Courthouse News,” the statement said.
Addiction Enders could not be reached for comment after business hours.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse says the Midwest saw opioid overdose cases increase 70 percent from July 2016 through September 2017.
Hazelden is the nation’s largest nonprofit substance use disorder treatment provider. It merged with the Betty Ford Center in 2014.