Issues law enforcement leaders face while combating the opioid crisis


The current opioid epidemic is unprecedented in USA history.About 150 people die from an opioid overdose daily. Currently, opioid-related death cases are a significant factor that leads to a decrease in life expectancy in the USA. The number of people using the drug has risen in recent years, and the law enforcement leaders have found it very difficult to track the drug traffickers behind the illegal trade. Opioids drugs have killed very many people, especially youths. The drug has been perceived as one of the causes of social injustices, such as immoralities, terrorism, among others. The law enforcement leaders are finding it challenging to end illegal business because it is carried out in a well-orchestrated scheme by the drug smugglers. The paper identifies some of the issues law enforcement leaders face while combating the opioid crisis and also offers recommendations.


Law enforcement can be defined as an act or a deed that compels adherence to or acquiescence with the set rules of the land(Mannet al,2018). Law enforcers include police officers and any other body that ensures that the citizens of a particular country carry out their activities according to the rules stipulated in the constitution of the country.The judiciary also plays a huge role in ensuring that wrongdoers are prosecuted and brought to book. Opioids are among the hard drugs that are being abused by the youth in the recent present (Pardo et al.,2019). Examples of opioids include heroin,  codeine, fentanyl, and morphine. The law enforcement leaders have the mandate to ensure that they combat the growing Opioids epidemic. However, law enforcement leaders are facing some current issues in the fight to combat the Opioids epidemic. In America,there are approximately 150  people that die every day due to overdose of  Opioid drugs, making it one of the countries that have high incidences of people dying from the usage of Opioids(Karaman,2015). The law enforcement leaders are working very hard to reduce death-related cases that result from an opioid overdose. However, there are contemporary issues that hinder the enforcement leaders from combatting theOpioids epidemic.

Current Issues Facing Law Enforcement Leaders in combating opioids

Online Sale of Opioids


There is a shift in the landscape in the sale of the opioids.Currently, the sale of opioids is mainly made online. Therefore there is a need for the government to teach their law enforcement officers how to track the illegal online business.Presently, the dark web has made it easy for people to access illicit drugs such as fentanyl and heroin. In America, there are various dark web online pharmacies where one can order drugs from his/her laptop or phone.However, theseillegal onlinedrug stores are being used by Opioids peddlers to sell their illicit drugs without the knowledge of the law enforcement leaders(Karaman, 2015). For instance, fentanyl mainly originates from China, and the peddlers have found loopholes to have it shipped to the USA without the knowledge of law enforcement agencies. This poses a new challengetothe law enforcement agencies that have been using the traditional way of operation to track down the users and drug peddlers.

Handling Opioids Users’ Trauma

Opioids are known to cause trauma to the long-term users of the drug. In recent years, there have been many cases of trauma to the users. This has resulted from a lack of proper post-traumatic stress disorder services. The law enforcement leaders have to accommodate the users of Opioids who are suffering from trauma. Also, law enforcement officers in charge of handling opioid usersexperience mental trauma due to dealing with these cases frequently. In this case, law enforcement needs to put in place measures and strategies aimed at increasing awareness on post-trauma experience that occur mainly to officers responding to the opioid crisis as well as to the victims. (Karaman,2015). In the year 2015, there was a case in Texas where a teenager whowas undergoing trauma was forced to end his own life because he did not find any help from the law enforcement leaders. However, the law enforcement leaders were not informed of such a case, and therefore it would have been difficult for them to notice. The law enforcement agencies need to work with other partners, such asclinical psychologists, to be able to detect individuals undergoing trauma due to the abuse of opioids.


Civil Unrestand Hostility

Civil unrest is the state where the citizens rub shoulders with law enforcement leaders such as police officers. There have been many collisions of law enforcement leaders and the public who abuse theOpioids. The public or rather the drug users perceive the drugs to be healthy and that the law enforcement leaders should just allow them to use the drugs peacefully. On the other hand,law enforcement leaders argue that Opioids such as heroin have adverse effects on human health and that it is illegal for anyone to use them(Renner et al., 2015).Civil unrest might rise when the law enforcement leaders go to arrest the users of opioids, and then they try to fight back the police. This can cause people to get injuries and can even lead to the death of some people. For instance, there was a crackdown of the drug peddlers group nicknamed as the 32 identical brothers; it led to violence and unrest as the police officers exchanged bullets from the drug peddlers who were resistingthe arrest(Wen& Warren,2018).This is also a vital issue that is affecting law enforcement leaders from combatting Opioids epidemic.


Fights to legalize Marijuana

Recently there have arguments for legalizingMarijuana because as the policy intervention to control the opioid epidemic. However, clinical research that supports the use of Marijuana to prevent opioid overdose is limited. New York and Illinois have so far legalized the use of Marijuana to individuals with an opioid prescription. The law enforcement leaders have been facing a challenge in ensuring that society does not abuse the drugs because of their effects on the health of human beings(Skolnick,2018). However, the public who uses opioids such as heroin and fentanyl sees this as a denial of their rights, and they have been engaging in spirited fights to ensure that the government legalizes the use of Opioids.  Research evidence shows that the abuse of these drugscauses the users to undergo withdrawal, which causes them to be addicts and that they find themselves in a situation whereby they cannot do anything without using the Opioids drugs. In other cases, the users may also suffer heart attacks and blood pressure, which might lead to loss of their lives(Auriol et al.,2015). This is the reason whylaw enforcement leaders are fighting very hard to ensure that they stopthe abuse of Opioids use in society(Wen& Warren,2018). This has been a current challenge tolaw enforcement leaders because they are working hard to educate the public on the effects of Opioids abuse.

Advancement of Technology

The technology has come with many benefits, but it has also come with its defects. Many teenagers and youth are being exposed to very much information, both good and bad information, through the internet. Teenagers get influenced to use the Opioids when they see other people abusing illegal drugs. The law enforcement leaders find it very difficult to regulate all the information to be uploaded on social media platforms. There are many platforms that teenagers can learn negative things from, and some of the platforms even the law enforcement leaders do not have access to or knowledge about. Most of the social media perceive drug usage as a good thing and that the people that use them are seen as heroes and heroine of society. This makes the teenagers to be lured to using the drugs, and therefore this has become very difficult to combat Opioids epidemic because of the increasing cases of users every day and night(Karaman,2015).For instance, dark web website has dramatically made the business of  Opioids peddling lucrative because it hosts very many “vendors” of illicit drugs who advertise drugs openly. Therefore many youth and teenagers are lured to start using hard drugs such as heroin(Nelson & Presley, 2019).

Opioids Use AmongstLaw Enforcement Leaders

Nelson, H. & Presley, L. (2019). There is a significant rate of law enforcement leaders using Opioids and other hard drugs. A recent study in the USA said that at least five police officers from 10 police officers are abusing Opioids(Pardo et al.,2019).This has been a significant issue because one cannot fight or educate others when he/she is using the same substance he/she should be fighting against. The public definitely cannot quit using Opioids when they see that law enforcement leaders also using the same drugs. When the law enforcement leaders use Opioids, they start being absent in work and also, they lackthe concentration to perform their duties. This will have a very negative implication to both the society and the government because the law enforcement leaders will not have the capability to stop the abuse of Opioids in society(Pardo et al.,2019). This is also a current issue that law enforcement leaders are going through in the fight to combat Opioidicepidemic.



Limited Resources

The law enforcement leaders lack enough resources to fight the peddlers of Opioids. The resources might range from human resources, vehicles, and money. The increased users of Opioids have also made the peddlers very rich because their illegal business has nourished. In America, the number of policemen and women is low, and therefore it becomes challenging for the small number of law enforcement leaders to trace all the users and dealers of Opioids(Nelson& Presley,2019). The law enforcement leaders might also lack enough machinery and other equipment.The drug dealers tend to have their squads that usually are very violent and also trained to protect theterritories of the drug peddlers. There is also a lack of equipped laboratories that can be used in drug screen and death investigation in the event of an opioid overdose. (Nelson & Presley, 2019). Data from seized drugs should be rapidly analyzed to create efficient law enforcement interventions.

Lack of cooperation from members of society

The society plays a significant role in ensuring that the users of Opioids and other illegal drugs are reported to the police officersso that actions can be taken. Society has an excellent chance to end the use of drugs because they are on the ground, and therefore they can easily take note of people abusing opioids. However, most of the community members are hiding the users of Opioids. Consequently, it is complicated for law enforcement leaders to differentiate between who is using the drugs and who is not using illegal drugs. The public may sometime fear to disclose the drug peddlers and users because of fear of being harmed.Also, some communities are known to be tolerant of drug dealings, thus difficult to change their perceptions of the impact of drug abuse. The drug peddlers are very hostile, and sometimes they threaten the society that if they reveal them, then they will end their lives(Mann et al.,2018). The homeland security department has put in place awareness programs and hotline numbers that encourage every member of the society to report any case of illicit use of opioids to the law enforcement agencies(Skolnick,2018). TheLackof cooperationreceived fromthe community has also been the main challenge to the law enforcement leaders.



As technology advances, law enforcement should get updated and equipped with the new technology too to avoid illegalities within the advancing world of technology.Law enforcement officers also need to be trained so as to be able to deal with online emerging gangs utilizing dark websites to market their activities.The law enforcement agencies should also ensure that it deals with gangs associated with drug trafficking. It should also ensure that it prevents the emergence of powerful gangs that openly peddle drugs in the streets. Additionally, the government should put in place programs that economically empower well being of drug users once rehabilitated. Teenagers should be protected from experimented with drugs by creating youth-friendly awareness programs. These programs should put in place campaigns that advocate for the illegal sale of drugs using online mediums. Furthermore,cooperation between parents, law enforcement leaders, and schools is needed to prevent the spread and use of opioids to the new cohort of teenagers.

Besides, members of the public should be given incentives that motivate them to report any cases of drug trafficking.Neighborhoods should be strengthened by ensuring cooperation exists between members of the public and the law enforcement leaders. The police should not just focus on the forceful arrest but rather devise mobilizing strategies that create an opportunity to educate members of the public on the adverse effects of opioids abuse. Previous approaches by the law enforcement leaders in combating the opioids seem to be incapable of dealing with the crisis. The police need to employ a multi-agency approach that will help in building a practical approach that will be viable in the fight against the abuse of opioids. Additionally, the government should also increase the budget they are allocating to the law enforcement bodies so that they can have enough resources to fight the opioid epidemic crisis.


Even though different states in the USA have set up laws to fight the opioid crisis, there have been emerging issues from the society that have barredlaw enforcement leaders from combatting the Opioids epidemic. The public has been ignorant of the effects of Opioids drugs henceincrease in the opium epidemic. Advancement of technology has led to the proliferation of dark websites that are playing a crucial role in drug trafficking. Besides, social media sites are also encouraging teenagers to use drugs mainly through peer pressure from what they view online. Lack of cooperation between members of the society and law enforcement agencies also hinders the fight against opioids. Furthermore, the hostility of drug users towards law enforcement agencies also creates a challenge in tackling the issue.


Auriol, E., Mesnard, A., & Perrault, T. (2018). Legalizing Opioids to Fight Organized Crime.


Karaman, R. (2015). Commonly used drugs: uses, side effects, bioavailability, and approaches to improve it. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

Mann, M., Molnar, A., Warren, I., & Daly, A. (2018). Submission to Joint Parliamentary Committee on Law Enforcement Inquiry into new Information Communication Technologies (ICTs) and the challenges facing law enforcement agencies.

Nelson, H. & Presley, L. (2019). The United States of opioids: a prescription for liberating a nation in pain. Charleston, South Carolina: ForbesBooks.

Pardo, B., Taylor, J., Caulkins, J., Kilmer, B., Reuter, P. & Stein, B. (2019). The future of fentanyl and other synthetic opioids. Santa Monica, Calif: RAND Corporation.

Renner, J., Levounis, P. & LaRose, A. (2018). Office-based buprenorphine treatment of opioid use disorder. Arlington, Virginia: American Psychiatric Association Publishing.

Skolnick, P. (2018). The opioid epidemic: crisis and solutions. Annual review of pharmacology and toxicology58, 143-159.

Wen, L. S., & Warren, K. E. (2018). Combatting the opioid epidemic: Baltimore’s experience and lessons learned. Journal of Public Health40(2), e107-e111.

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