With the coronavirus still at large, stay-at-home orders remain in place and social distancing practices have become the norm.
The world is far different than it was before the pandemic hit, but in some places, things don’t change quite so easily.
Philly’s Kensington Neighborhood
Kensington is a neighborhood in Philadelphia that has had its fair share of problems. Along with high rates of crime, it was hit particularly hard by the opioid epidemic. The sale and distribution of drugs in Kensington is a regular occurrence and the area has become flooded by heroin and opioid-addicted individuals. The main street is well-known as a place to buy drugs and many drug dealers congregate in the area, waiting to make their sale.
Like the rest of the world, the neighborhood has been unable to avoid the coronavirus pandemic, but the impact of the virus on the community is different than most.
Drug Trade in Kensington During Lockdown
Although social distancing and stay-at-home orders are in place throughout Philadelphia, the drug market in Kensington is still going steady. The streets are still filled with drug dealers and drug addicts alike and the distribution continues. Many addicts need their fix, and they are willing to risk getting infected with COVID-19 to get it. While some people are wearing masks, some are not, and some people are still gathering in the streets.
Along with the presence of some facial masks, there have been a few notable changes in Kensington’s drug trade because of COVID-19. The first major difference appears to be the potency of the drugs being distributed. According to sources from Filter Magazine, heroin sold on the streets of Kensington during the pandemic has had a lower initial rush as well as a high that does not last as long as before.1 This pattern suggests that the availability of heroin and other drugs may be harder to come by because of the pandemic, so dealers are cutting their drugs to make the supplies last. For those heavily addicted individuals, this decreased potency can be both good and bad. Some users may experience withdrawal symptoms more readily, but it does give people the opportunity to try and wean their bodies off of this drug. Unfortunately, without professional heroin addiction treatment, doing so isn’t easy and many will relapse.
Another way the coronavirus is impacting Kensington’s drug trade may be the increase in violence. Not surprisingly, crime rates across the world have decreased dramatically since the start of lockdowns. Even Chicago, a U.S. city known for its higher levels of crime, has seen a 10% decrease in crime rate since the pandemic.2 Unfortunately, violence in Kensington is growing. Reports suggest that Philadelphia has actually seen a 19% increase in homicides from January 1st to May 6th 2020 compared to the same time last year, and this spike puts the City of Brotherly Love in line with record high homicide numbers in 2007.3 While Kensington isn’t to blame for all of these numbers, it does have a history of violent crimes; coronavirus anxiety as well as less potent drugs may not be helping.
As a drug rehab center in Philadelphia, these numbers are concerning. The drug trade continues to wreak havoc on our neighbors and fear surrounding the pandemic may be making matters worse. Instead of living in this world of fear and uncertainty, there is hope. At Banyan Philadelphia, we help people find lasting sobriety from their addictions and we are still open.
If you or someone you love has a substance abuse problem, stop living in fear. Get help today by calling 888-280-4763.
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Alyssa is Banyan’s Director of Digital Marketing & Technology. After overcoming her own struggles with addiction, she began working in the treatment field in 2012. She graduated from Palm Beach State College in 2016 with additional education in Salesforce University programs. A part of the Banyan team since 2016, Alyssa brings over 5 years of experience in the addiction treatment field.