Date of Award

January 2017

Degree Type

Open Access Thesis

Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Justice Studies

First Advisor

Judah Schept

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Second Advisor

Gary W. Potter

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies

Third Advisor

Travis Linnemann

Department Affiliation

Justice Studies


The demand for and availability of prescription opioids has been quite prevalent in the state of Kentucky primarily since the early 1990's. But between 2010 and 2012, reformulations of opioids OxyContin and Opana, along with the passing of HB 217 and mandatory KASPER (Kentucky All Schedule Prescription Electronic Reporting) reports made the acquisition of diverted pharmaceutical opioids much more difficult. As a result, prices per pill increased and once opioids became nearly impossible to find on the streets, users then moved to another opiate, heroin. Since 2012, heroin related overdoses have increased significantly in the Bluegrass State. The purpose of this study is to better understand the transition from prescription opioid abuse to heroin among prior users in the city of Louisville. Relying on interviews, existing academic literature, Louisville Courier-Journal news media articles, and federal official reports, this paper argues that after a long history of over prescribing opioids and the creation of pills mills, followed then by the implementation of harsh prohibition laws against opioids, many individuals relied on the more dangerous and cheaper drug heroin to support their opiate dependence.