Malvern Treatment Centers

Stay Connected With Malvern. Get Email Updates | Follow Us:

The Loved One’s Guide to Heroin & Other Drugs in Kensington, Philadelphia

homeless man kensington

Welcome to Malvern Treatment Center’s Loved One’s Guide to Heroin and Other Drugs in Kensington, Philadelphia. We put this together for one reason and one reason only – to help the parents, spouses, children, and friends of addicts learn a little bit about where their loved ones are going to get drugs.

It’s important to make a quick disclaimer before getting into detailed Kensington drug information. As much as we’d like it to be, this guide isn’t the end-all-be-all of Philadelphia Badland’s info. It’s comprehensive and updated frequently, but there might be information that’s out of date or no longer accurate.

Things change fast – that’s a byproduct of writing about the illicit drug market. For the most up-to-date information, or to get help for your loved one immediately, call us now at 610-647-0330!

Read on to learn about different Kensington drug corners, some Philadelphia heroin facts and statistics, information on other common drugs of abuse, and how to help your loved one get better!


Kensington Drug Corners

The simple and frightening fact is that it’d be impossible to list all the drug corners in Kensington. There are just too many and have been too many for decades.

Kensington and the surrounding North Philadelphia neighborhoods of North Central, Stanton, Harrowgate, Hunting Park, Glenwood, and Fairhill are hotbeds of heroin, crack, and cocaine sales. These are collectively referred to as the Philadelphia Badlands and trust us – they’ve earned their ominous name.

So, instead of listing all of Kensington’s drug corners, heroin corners, drug busts, etc. – we’re going to talk about some of the most popular. These are the places your loved one’s most likely going.


Kensington & Somerset

addicts in kensington at night
Under the El via

This is one of the oldest and most trafficked parts of the Philadelphia Badlands. In fact, Kensington and Somerset’s where most people think of when they think of drugs being sold in Kensington.

Once a thriving corridor or small business, today it exists in a state of near permanent darkness thanks to the El (the elevated subway). It’s patrolled by police, but they’ve taken a largely hands off approach to arresting addicts. Instead, they focus on the dealers and hope to cut the supply rather than the demand.

It’s a strategy that’s had some success, but the streets are still awash in heroin, cocaine, crack, and all sorts of pills.

You’ll be greeted with calls for “subs,” “dope,” “hard,” “rigs,” and “bars,” among other slang, while walking along Kensington and Somerset. Subs are slang for Suboxone, a synthetic opioid replacement drug. Dope is slang for heroin. Hard is slang for crack. Rigs are slang for syringes. Bars are slang for Xanax.

It’s clear Somerset and Kensington is still a major heroin and drug corner. Over the past several years, though, another popular spot has taken over. We’re talking about Kensington and Allegheny.


Kensington & Allegheny

As the dual forces of national attention and gentrification push drug sales further along Somerset Street, a large part of the market for drugs has shifted towards Kensington Ave and Allegheny Street.

There’s not much more to say about this heroin and crack corner than any of the others. It’s operates around the clock in spite of frequent arrests and sweeps by police. It’s somewhere that many addicts report “coping” at. It’s a bustling open-air market for heroin, crack, cocaine, and pills.

There’s some good news though! Once treatment enters the picture, things get significantly better for those abusing drugs in Kensington and surrounding areas. Consider the following:

According to the White House, heroin causes the majority of primary treatment admissions. After someone seeks care for heroin abuse, their chances of recovery depend on a number of factors – things like evidence-based care, family and social support, 12-step involvement, and follow up care.

If your loved one becomes involved in all the above, or even most of the above, their chances at sustaining recovery increase by as much as 75%.

Other Popular Drug Corners

kids playing in kensington

Remember when we said it would be impossible to put together a full list of Philly Badland heroin corners? We’ve covered the two most trafficked above. There are a number of other places your loved one may be going to buy drugs from though.

These include:

  • Frankford Ave & Somerset Street
  • Frankford Ave & Huntingdon Street
  • Frankford Ave & Berks Street
  • Westmoreland Street
  • The Tracks
  • Mutter Ave (made infamous as the location the Kensington strangler was arrested)

It’s unfortunate there are so many areas for addicts to buy and use drugs at, but it’s also unavoidable. It’s a product of the huge amounts of money to be made in the illicit drug trade. We cover some information on that before.

For now, know that even if your loved one is venturing into the heart of North Philly to get heroin or other drugs – there’s hope for their recovery! After all, there are well over 500 treatment programs in Pennsylvania. We’re one, one of the best if we do say so, but there are so many options for your loved one to get better!


Quick Kensington Heroin Facts

It’s important to note that while the following facts are as up-to-date as we can gather, some date back to the early 2000s. This is due to the often-frustrating lag between federal drug data and its release to the public. For the most recent facts, statistics, and data – and to seek help for your loved one – call us today at 610-647-0330!


    • Philadelphia is the second largest heroin consuming city in America, behind only New York City (City Paper)


    • Most of the heroin being sold in Kensington and surrounding Philly areas is coming from Mexico and South America. The Sinaloa Cartel is thought to be the major trafficking organization (Philly Mag)


    • Meanwhile, the major manufacturer of Philadelphia heroin is South America. In fact, according to a 2002 analysis, all heroin confiscated and tested in Pennsylvania was synthesized in South America (The NDIC)


syringe philly badlands

    • The majority of heroin sold in Kensington is sold by Dominican criminal organizations (Philly Mag)


    • The purity range of Philadelphia heroin fluctuates between 40% and 95%, with an average of around 70%. This isn’t taking into account any additives, or “cut,” like fentanyl (The NDIC)


    • Heroin being sold in Kensington often pops up in surrounding suburbs. According to the A.J. Butz Foundation, areas include Allentown, Scranton, Washington, D.C., and Baltimore (The A.J. Butz Foundation)


That’s a lot of overwhelming info, right? It’s frightening and enough to send shivers down even the most seasoned parent’s spine. Guess what though – recovery is available and within reach of everyone. It doesn’t matter how far down the scale your loved one has gone – they can get better!

Consider what the National Institute on Drug Abuse has to say about recovery:

Can addiction be treated successfully?

Yes. Addiction is a treatable disease. Research in the science of addiction and the treatment of substance use disorders has led to the development of evidence-based interventions that help people stop abusing drugs and resume productive lives (NIDA).

Quick Kensington Heroin Statistics

      • In 2015, there were 1,080 overdose deaths in Philadelphia. The majority of these were due to heroin and fentanyl-laced heroin (WTAE)


      • Of these deaths, 80% were white, approximately 66% were men, and approximately 66% were over the age of thirty (WTAE)


      • Just over 13,000 people sought publicly funded treatment for heroin in 2001. By 2002 this number rose to just over 14,200 people, an increase of 7.3%. The number is estimated to be much higher today, especially for Kensington and Philadelphia residents (The NDIC)

white drug powder


      • There were 169 gangs involved in Philly’s heroin and drug trade in 2013 alone. The vast majority are active in North Philadelphia, including Kensington and other Badlands areas (Philly Mag)


      • The Drug Abuse Warning Network, often called DAWN, estimated that there were over 4,600 ER visits due to heroin in 2000 (The NDIC)


      • This number jumped to over 5,300 in 2001 (The NDIC)


      • Heroin was present in almost half of the drug overdose deaths from 2001. The exact number is 412 out of 874 total overdoses (The NDIC)


      • Heroin appears to be moving beyond just Kensington and the Philadelphia Badlands. The DEA released a study of 2014 drug overdose deaths and found that heroin, mainly originating in Philadelphia, was present in the majority of victims (Philly Mag)


      • Data collected from the Arrestee Drug Abuse Monitoring Program, sometimes referred to as ADAM, concluded that 13% of adult men arrested in Philadelphia in 2001 tested positive for opioids (The NDIC)


Other Kensington Drug Facts & Statistics

      • While most cities and states in America are experiencing a decline in illegal prescription opioid use and an increase in heroin use, Philadelphia’s one of the few that’s experience an increase in both (Philly Mag)


      • There were 14.3 kilograms of heroin, 173 kilograms of cocaine, 1,178 kilograms of marijuana, 4.1 kilograms of meth, and over 20,000 MDMA pills seized in Philadelphia in 2004 according to Narconon (they’re not always the best source of information, but these numbers seem reliable)


      • According to Philly Mag, cocaine dealers in Northern Philly have began to sell meth when their coke supply is low (Philly Mag)


crack being cooked
cocaine being cooked to crack, via
      • There’s also been an increase in meth lab seizures since 2000. There were only 8 identified and dismantled in 2000, by 2004 that number jumped to over 60 (Narconon)


      • Despite the increasing number of meth lab seizures, the majority of Kensington meth is thought to be supplied by Mexican and Californian trafficking gangs (Narconon)


      • While PCP use nationwide is down, it’s increased in Kensington and surrounding areas (Philly Mag)


      • Most of the MDMA (either in the form of molly or ecstasy) in Northern Philly is suspected to be supplied by Russian and Israeli organized crime and smuggled through Canada and the Caribbean (Narconon)


General Kensington Drug Information

Now that we have an understanding of what drugs are popular in the Philly Badlands, how they get there, and where users are getting them, let’s take a look at some specific Kensington drug information.

Remember, the more we know about heroin, cocaine, and other popular drugs of abuse in Kensington, the more equipped we’ll be to help those struggling with them. Speaking of help, let’s stop for a minute and ask ourselves how we know when our loved one’s struggling.

NIDA has a great resource on what to do if your friend or loved one is abusing drugs. In it, you’ll learn what questions to ask to identify drug abuse, what to do when they ask for help, intervention information, what to look for in a treatment center, and so much more!

Remember, addiction and everything that comes along with it are powerful, negative forces, but they’re not the end-all-be-all of someone’s life. There’s life after addiction – there’s life in recovery!


Kensington Heroin Infomation

      • The average $10 bag of heroin is around .03 grams. This is the smallest amount commonly found for sale in Kensington (The A.J. Butz Foundation)


      • Heroin is most commonly found in small, glassine envelopes called “stamps.” They get their name from the logos stamped on each bag. Each stamp contains between .01 and .03 grams. Popular stamps are always changing and, over the years, have included: DMX, Homicide, RIP, King, Old Navy, Rabbit, Super K, U2, and 187.


      • Kensington’s heroin problem became so bad that the Pennsylvania State Attorney General’s Office created something called the Easter Corridor Heroin Operation, or ECHO for short, to police the area (The NDIC)


      • The general price per gram of heroin in Kensington is between $60 and $70 (The A.J. Butz Foundation)


heroin stamp bag
a “stamp bag,” the most commonly sold form of heroin in Kensington (via)
      • Since the introduction of South American heroin in the early 1990s, most of the heroin available in Kensington is powder and small rocks. It’s commonly off-white, brown, and gray in color.


      • Around this same time, Philadelphia authorities created something called Operation Sunrise. This was a “multiagency, multijurisdictional initiative designed to stabilize neighborhoods in the Badlands by reducing drug distribution and violent crime.” (The NDIC)


      • Common nicknames for heroin in Kensington include dope, boy, and brown.


      • Heroin in the Badlands has historically been around 70% pure. This is much higher than the historic national average of 38% purity. In recent years, purity has reach around a 90% average (The NDIC)


      • According to officials from the Philadelphia and Camden High Intensity Drug Trafficking Area (HIDTA) taskforce, around 60% of all heroin found in Kensington arrives via New York (The NDIC)


Kensington Pill Information

painkillers in kensington philadelphia
hydrocodone pills are commonly sold on the streets of North Philly
      • Oxycodone pills of all shapes and sizes – OxyContin, Percocet, Roxicodone, Endocet, and others – were the 4th most popular drugs found in toxicology reports in Northern Philadelphia in 2013. (NIDA)


      • Oxycodone pills were found in just under 5% of all drug reports from Kensington and surrounding areas in 2013 (NIDA)


      • Codeine pills were the 9th most popular drugs in toxicology reports in Northern Philadelphia in 2013. (NIDA)


      • Buprenorphine formulas, including Suboxone and Subutex, were the 10th most popular drugs in toxicology reports in Kensington in 2013. (NIDA)


      • Hydrocodone formulas, including Vicodin, Hysingla, and Norcos, were the 10th most popular drugs in toxicology reports in the Philadelphia Badlands in 2013. (NIDA)


      • Alprazolam (Xanax) was the 5th most popular drugs in toxicology reports in the Philadelphia Badlands in 2013. (NIDA)


      • Close to 8% of all people on probation or parolee in Kensington tested positive for benzodiazepines (Xanax, Klonopin, Ativan, Rohypnol, etc.) in 2013 (NIDA)


Prescription opioid and benzo abuse is serious stuff. While the media has largely shifted its attention to our current heroin epidemic, make no mistake pill abuse is still happening in record numbers.

The situation isn’t all doom and gloom though! Comprehensive, clinically-driven addiction treatment exists and is available to more people, and in larger numbers, than ever before. If your loved one is using pills, they can change their lives. They can get their lives back. More importantly, they can engage and enter the recovery process today.


Kensington Cocaine & Crack Information

      • Admissions to treatment when cocaine was the primary drug of abuse were around 12% during the first half of 2013. This is an increase from just over 11% in 2012 (NIDA)


      • These numbers put cocaine as the fourth most popular drug of abuse prompting treatment admissions in the Philadelphia area (NIDA)


      • Just under 40% of drug overdose deaths in Philadelphia were attributed to cocaine during the first half of 2013 (NIDA)


      • 30% of all the drugs seized in Kensington during the first six months of 2013 were either cocaine or crack (NIDA)


Cocaine philly
a pressed rock of cocaine, via
      • Common slang for cocaine in Kensington includes soft, white, and girl. Common slang for crack includes hard and rock.


      • The average price for a gram of cocaine in Philadelphia hovers around $100, though again this is just an average. The average price for an ounce of cocaine is between $800 and $1,200 (NDIC)


      • Contrast this with the price of a single rock of crack which is around $5 but can be as low as $3 (NDIC)


Information on Other Drugs of Abuse in Kensington & North Philadelphia

      • A very small 1% of all people on probation or parolee in Kensington tested positive for meth during the first six months of 2013. This shows that although meth is making some inroads in the Badlands area, it poses a far smaller threat than opioids (NIDA)


      • All forms of synthetic marijuana appeared very rarely in toxicology reports from Kensington. In fact, they accounted for a total of less than 1% during the first half of 2013 (NIDA)


using drugs in north philadelphia badlands
a man using under the El, via
      • ”Traditional” marijuana, on the other hand, continues to be the most abused drug among parolees in Philadelphia (NIDA)


      • Pot was also the third most common primary drug of abuse for treatment center admissions during the first six months of 2013. It accounted for a total of 20.8% of all admissions during that time (NIDA)


      • Marijuana and concentrated THC extracts were also the most reported drugs found in toxicology reports during the first half of 2013. They came in at a whopping 31.2% of all positive reports for Philadelphia (NIDA)


      • Kensington slang for marijuana includes bud, trees, piff, chronic, and haze. Concentrated THC extracts are commonly called shatter, oil, resin, and dabs.


      • Slang for synthetic marijuana includes spice, K2, and Mr. Nice Guy. These come from former brand name versions of the chemicals.


      • Slang for meth includes ice, shards, and crystal.


      • While the price for spice and other forms of synthetic marijuana vary widely, it’s generally very cheap. Single joints can cost as low as a dollar or two, while small packets can be as little as $5 or $10.


      • Meth sells for around $50 to $80 a gram in Northern Philadelphia (NDIC)


      • Marijuana, on the other hand, sells for between $5 and $20 per gram, depending on the strain and potency. An ounce costs between $200 and $300 (Price of Weed)


Whether your loved one’s abusing meth, synthetic marijuana, old school pot, or anything else – you don’t have to wait to start their healing. Help and support are available for your entire family.

In fact, we believe family care is so important that we’ve dedicated an entire section of our website to the family recovery process. We believe addiction doesn’t happen in a void and recovery doesn’t either. Give yourself a break and start getting better now!


Helping Your Loved One

Seeking professional help for your loved one’s addiction is the hardest thing most people ever do. It requires levels of both determination and family support that are miraculous to say the least. This doesn’t change the fact that both you and your loved one seeking help are going to find the process frightening and overwhelming! Trust us when we say we know.

We’ve been treating alcoholism and addiction at Malvern since 1948. In the close to 70 years between then and now, we’ve seen families destroyed by substance abuse. We’ve also seen the remarkable change recovery brings!

We’ve seen lives saved and families reunited. That’s a humbling and incredibly satisfying thing to say. That’s also why we take the family component of treatment and recovery so seriously here at Malvern. Overcoming addiction isn’t easy, but it is possible.

The easiest way to start your loved one’s recovery process is to call our 24/7 hotline and ask for help. From there, our trained admission coordinators, recovery specialists, interventionists, and clinical team can create an individual plan of action for your loved one’s unique circumstances.

Don’t wait to start healing as a family – call us now to start getting better today!

[su_shadow style=”simple”][su_panel background=”#cccccc” color=”#ffffff” border=”1px solid #f5f5f5″ text_align=”center”]


[/su_panel] [/su_shadow]

© 2021 Malvern Treatment Centers - All Rights Reserved | View Privacy Policy