The episode was an indictment of illegal drug addiction, especially given the country's mood at the time with President Reagan's anti-drug efforts in full swing and other programs like the DARE program becoming prominent in schools. The episode was also almost prophetic in that some drug cartels evolved a corporate structure and acted more like businessmen than criminals at the expense of drug users.
The visual effect of the fluctuating force field around the Enterprise-D while near the star Delos was created by using a bowling ball which was trickled with salt. The salt bumping off the bowling ball was used and squeezed during the digital compostion and turned upside down to give this effect.
Director Win Phelps remembers, "There were many continuity problems. Down on the set, we began to notice discrepancies. Some sequences just didn't really work. The actors would say "My motivation is totally wrong here", because a previous scene would be contradictory. They were trying to act scenes that they had never read before, or were substantially different from what they had read. That didn't happen every scene, but it did happen."
This is the first time that we see a system interlock used with an alien transporter system showing that it is possible to interlock two different types of transporter beams. The only previous time that we see a Federation transporter working in conjunction with an alien beam is when the Enterprise intercepted an alien transporter beam and redirected it to their transporter pad in Star Trek: Assignment: Earth (1968).
Behind-the-scenes footage and bloopers from this episode appeared on Reading Rainbow: The Bionic Bunny Show (1988), hosted by LeVar Burton. The episode presents behind-the-scenes footage including the makeup process and the filming and editing of a brief sequence on the bridge beginning with La Forge's statement "Solar flares are increasing in magnitude, Captain," featuring editing at The Post Group with Robert Legato, Fred Raimondi and Rich Thorne.
The episode was influenced by co-executive producer Maurice Hurley's recent work on Miami Vice (1984), and was intended to have the Enterprise come across a drug deal in progress. Hurley was also responsible for the insertion of a "Just Say No" style drugs speech by Tasha Yar to Wesley Crusher, which came over the objections of the cast.
Richard Lineback appeared on the three Star Trek spin-off series. He has played the roles of Romas in TNG: "Symbiosis", Selin Peers in DS9: "Dax" and Kessick in ENT: "The Xindi". Archive footage from his appearance in "Symbiosis" was later re-used for the second season TNG episode "Shades of Gray".