Proactive Approach to Substance Abuse in the Workplace | University of Utah Health

Need for a new approach

Our work on this initiative began with trying to figure out what to do to address the issue of diversion. Pharmacy Services at the University of Ontario is responsible for replenishing automated dispensing cabinets on floors and tracking controlled substances. Identifying, preventing and addressing diversion has been a priority for years.

The first idea was to increase surveillance by using AI to track drugs and identify potential diversions. But that won’t solve the root of the problem, our colleagues noted. By the time a person feels the need to divert their drug, things are already bad enough for them. And if a person were caught diverting, would they be able to get the help they need? Probably not, we concluded.

Diversion is a serious problem: It is illegal. It is negligent. It can deprive patients of medications that need them. It is an automatic termination under the University of Illinois Health Policy. It is one of the clearest and most straightforward policies in existence. And if you are terminated for diversion, you are not eligible for rehire. Your career here is effectively over.

When someone is fired for distraction, we ask ourselves, “What did we miss? Could we have helped them in some way?” We should be able to do something for people before that happens.

We have seen amazing people struggle with addiction, which led them to make a bad decision. Our goal is to help people solve their addiction problems before they can no longer get help. We can direct them to available resources so they can seek help.