The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic

The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic
Duration: 60 Minutes
Module 1Module 1
Recorded on: 2021-11-18
Unit 1Presentation Materials: The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic
Unit 2Transcript: The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic
Unit 3Workbook: The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic
Unit 4Recording: The History of Opioids to Current Day Epidemic

The opioid crisis currently plaguing the United States did not just spring out of nowhere and happen overnight. It is a perfect storm brought about by myriad factors including pain symptoms and promised cures, dishonest marketing, research and development, supply and demand, and the multi-billion pharmaceutical and illicit drug industries that have been around for decades.

Leading the discussion is Bill Loucks. Bill has retired from law enforcement in 2018 after serving the Metro Nashville Tennessee Police Department where he spent 12 of his 16 years working as a gang and narcotics detective. He is currently an instructor/course developer for the North Carolina Department of Justice-Justice Academy (NCJA) where he oversees prescription drug diversion courses.

Bill discussed the intricacies that led to the current opioid epidemic through his first-hand experience investigating these in this presentation. Specifics include:

  • A brief primer into the long history of addiction and getting to know the substances included in the discussion.
  • Differentiating opiates from opioids and the most common drugs in the market under each category.
  • The disproportionate consumption of pharmaceuticals in the US – including prescription narcotics – compared to the rest of the world.
  • Events and trends that shaped the history of opioid addiction in the US.
    • How opiates were introduced during the Vietnam conflict to US soldiers as it was readily available in the region.
    • The creation of a generation addicted to prescription pills through misinformation and marketing.
    • The growing demand for prescription pills and how Florida pill mills supplied two-thirds of the demand for oxycodone nationwide.
    • The Mexican Cartel’s multi-billion-dollar operation that is the primary source of cocaine, and later, heroin in the US.
    • The start of widespread overdose deaths across the US which introduced authorities to a much more potent drug – fentanyl.
    • The Sinaloa Cartel’s research and development efforts which brought the prescription-pill-looking fentanyl-and-heroin mix throughout the US.
    • An operation following a package ordered via the darknet that led to the seizure of a new substance being marketed – carfentanil, which is stronger than fentanyl.
  • Efforts put into place to regulate the abuse of prescription pills and prevent doctor shopping through centralized databases linking doctors and pharmacies.
  • How the multi-billion-dollar drug cartel operations fed into the people’s demand and addiction by developing more potent products that provided them with bigger profits.
  • How individuals typically start with prescription pills before they progress into much stronger substances like heroin, fentanyl, and carfentanil.
  • A glimpse into the extent of overdose deaths due to fentanyl.
  • The horrible reality that those who have overdosed admitted that chasing their high means getting as close to death as possible.
  • A comparison of the potency of the products being marketed illustrating how fentanyl and carfentanil are potentially fatal.
  • The perfect storm that is the opioid crisis brought about by the demand for pain medication and how pharmaceutical companies, pill mills, and the drug cartel leverage this demand over the last couple of decades for their business gains.

Questions raised by the webinar attendees are about:

  • Predictions as to where the opioid epidemic might be headed and what law enforcement can do to address it more effectively.
  • Narcan-resistance of drugs.
  • How carfentanil is manufactured and if it will be more prevalent in the future.
  • Detecting carfentanil using fentanyl test strips.
  • Other substances and pills being laced with fentanyl.
  • The effectiveness of harm-reduction efforts.


Other Webinars with this Presenter:


Or click here to view and register for other upcoming Law Enforcement webinars on the JCH Platform.


Resources and Handouts


Audience Comments

  • “Enjoyed the presenter – very informative.” — Amy
  • “Listening to the experience from someone who is out on the field and who actually seems to care and want to understand the addiction.” — Alexandra
  • “The statistics were astounding….” — emma
  • “The way he explained everything step-by-step, what they were doing, the process, and showed pictures was very helpful and informative.” — Jennifer
  • “This is by far the best training to date.” — NORMA
  • “Lots of new information. Working with parents that have addiction issues, helps humanize them and helps us be less judgemental. No one goes in thinking they want to become an addict.” — Katy
  • “The way he presents the information is simple and straightforward. It will help me when I am reaching out to community providers and potential partners.” — Kyle


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