As with many urbanized areas around the country, addiction in Philadelphia is a huge problem. So much of Philadelphia’s crime and violence, is stemmed from the drug trade. The murder rate for Philadelphia is higher than any other American city, with huge percentages of the homicide rate consisting of males between 18-30 years of age. Philadelphia is commonly referred to as the heroin capital of America, and is the central point for most of the heroin that supplies the surrounding areas such as New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, and New York.
There are many reasons for the high rate of heroin use in Philadelphia, as well as the high rate of addiction in Philadelphia. Possibly the biggest factor is simply that Philadelphia possess the purest grade A heroin. The metropolitan cities of Camden, Newark and Philadelphia get their supplies directly from the Northern Coast of South America. This is the 3rd largest heroin market in the world, second to the “Golden Triangle” (East Asia) and the “Golden Crescent (India and West Asia). Afghanistan is the world largest heroin provider, but the purest heroin continues to be grown from the opiate poppies is South America. It is here that the link of addiction in Philadelphia is connected.
Addiction in Philadelphia’s citizens continues to change, with the drug trends leaning more and more on prescription opiates. Never before have such powerful and addictive drugs become so easily obtained and distributed. Although heroin still remains the most profitable street drug in the city, OxyContin is moving the drug trade from areas like North and West Philadelphia, to less urbanized areas such as Mt. Airy and Chestnut Hill. As always, the drugs bring the crime with them.
It’s easy to look objectively and point fingers, but let’s remind ourselves that the poverty level is as high as 43% in some of these areas. There is and always has been a correlation between poverty levels and drug trafficking. The high percentage of addiction in Philadelphia is directly related to the high poverty level. The cycle is a hard one to stop. Poverty leads to drug trade which leads to addiction which leads to violence which leads to more poverty. Such is the eternal conundrum of addiction in all major cities around the world.
Philadelphia is literally translated to the “The City of Brotherly Love”. It’s ironic that it is also possesses the highest murder rate per capital, most of which is in direct correlation to the addiction rate. In Philadelphia, there is a strong “stop snitching” mentality. The mentality makes it very difficult to gather information from witnesses and/or civilians, because of the unwritten code of silence. As long as this mentality and code is prevalent, crime and addiction in Philadelphia, will always rear its ugly head. Philly is a beautiful city with some of the country’s most important history. Let’s hope that we don’t completely lose the beauty and marvel of it to addiction. Hopefully with a strong police force, strong legislation, and a change in the street mentality, the citizens of Philadelphia can win the battle against addiction.