Fischler College of Education: Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award

2019

Document Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Abraham S. Fischler College of Education

Advisor

Tina Jaeckle

Committee Member

James Hall

Committee Member

Marcelo Castro

Abstract

In October 2017, President Trump officially declared the opioid epidemic to be a public health emergency. Reports from the CDC indicate that over 140 Americans die per day as a result of an opioid overdose (NPR, 2017). This statistic alone highlights the tragic effects of the current opioid climate. To date, an abundance of research has been conducted on opioid addicts, family members, doctors approach to addiction, etc. However, there is a gap in the research regarding law enforcement officers and their ever-changing role in the fight against opioids. As the opioid epidemic has continued to worsen, many law enforcement departments have enacted policies, which require officers to carry and administer narcan [narcan is the nasal spray version of naloxone]. This dissertation sought to examine the perceptions of law enforcement officers who have been affected by the NS (nasal spray) naloxone policies.

This study was designed to garner a better understanding of how law enforcement officers perceive this policy change. I utilized a qualitative approach in order to examine the first hand accounts from the participating officers. More specifically, a multiple case-study design was employed, in order to examine the perceptions of each participant individually, as well as, collectively. The findings indicate police officers, often first to arrive on scene, recognize the importance of carrying nasal spray naloxone and the potential life saving ability. However, it was clear among the participant’s that Naloxone should not be viewed as a solution to the epidemic, rather a Band-Aid.

Preliminary statistics for 2017, indicate opioid overdoses have continued to rise in the United States. As overdoses continue to rise, policy makers have continued to undergo fire for their failure to ignite change. Additionally, more and more police and Sheriffs departments have either enacted policy to equip officers with naloxone, or have received backlash for their failure to do so. It does not appear that the opioid epidemic will slow down anytime soon; therefore, it is more necessary than ever to determine how such policies may affect those involved. Police chiefs, law enforcement officials, and policy makers can utilize this study to further their understanding on law enforcements perceptions on carrying (NS) naloxone and harm reduction initiatives.

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