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Heroin in Camden, A Major Crime City

Updated on October 14, 2014
Camden Race Riots of 1969
Camden Race Riots of 1969

What Went Wrong With Camden?

The famous American poet, Walt Whitman spent the last years of his life in Camden, NJ and quoted, "In a dream I saw a city invincible." Many years ago, Camden had big successful businesses and families. The industrial jobs ended and resulted in many of those families moving on to find more work. In the late 60s to early 70s the race riots took a toll on Camden. The city became poor and strained. Corruption in the city only made matters worse. In the past there have been three mayors indicted on corruption. One of these corrupt mayors actually covered up a loan for $65,000 from a big time drug dealer, then came the increase in drug activity.

Devastation From The Race Riots

Race riots
Race riots

One of The Most Dangerous Cities

Heroin Use on City Bus

NJ Transit bus to Atlantic City
NJ Transit bus to Atlantic City

Unintentional Bus Ride Next to a Heroin Addict in Camden

Recently, I took a bus from the Walter Transportation center to Atlantic City and I had to take a seat in the back as I was with my husband and we needed two seats. Next to me was a guy looking out of the window. He appeared to be an average guy on his way to his destination but after a few minutes he appeared to become anxious and started looking around suspiciously. Finally he revealed an item wrapped in aluminum foil. It was not clear what that item was, but he then turned his body sideways pulling his arm around where no one could see what he was doing. It was clear that he was shooting up. When he completed his task he put up his items in his pocket and rested his head back calmly and started to drift off.

This is a common situation in Camden, NJ. Unfortunately, the Walter Rand Transportation Center appears to be in the heart of the drug and crime activity. It is important to remember that there are some nice places in Camden as well, like the Waterfront Aquarium. However, the drug problem supersedes the nice sites and things to do in Camden. There is a history here and a reason why Camden appears to be Heroin City.

"Cheap Dose"

It's becoming too easy to grab these single doses on the streets of Camden.
It's becoming too easy to grab these single doses on the streets of Camden.

Camden Has Extremely High Heroin Purity Levels

To understand what this meant, I did some extra research and discovered that at higher purity levels means the individual will remain higher longer and at a higher experience. This also means higher instances of overdose deaths. The problem is that since New Jersey is one of the largest heroin import zones in the world, the heroin starts off at its most purist and is gets cut down with other chemicals as it hits further away cities and states. The average purity level in New England is around 15%, the national average purity level is 31%, in NJ it is ranging from 40% to 48%, however according to Monmouth County’s chief of detectives, Michael Pasterchick, on the streets of Camden there are samples as high as 95%. Law enforcement believe that the reason for the increased amount of drug use is the low cost to users sense there is such a large supply coming in from Latin American drug cartels. Plus many of the users that are willing to share their story states that they started out addicted to pain medication, which is usually given freely by doctors and dentists. Once they were unable to continue getting prescription for the pain medication and those pills are more expensive on the streets, they switch over to heroin which is much cheaper and easier to get on the streets of Camden, NJ.

Narcan/naloxone spray to prevent opiate overdose deaths
Narcan/naloxone spray to prevent opiate overdose deaths

First Responders Carry Drug Overdose Antidote

New Jersey governor, Christie signed a bill that would allow users to avoid being arrested if they called 911 to report and prevent drug overdose, even if they are the victim. Narcan/naloxone is a drug spray that will reverse the effects of heroin and other opiates reaction on the body. This will allow first responders to save lives in a situation of drug overdose. This drug is highly effective. In Quincy, Mass. police that have been using it state that in July 2013 they used it 179 times avoiding 170 overdose deaths.

The problem is that some people believe that allowing first responders to carry this antidote will encourage people to use drugs. It is important to keep in mind that people that are addicted to drugs are ill and they will use the drugs whether there is an antidote to stop them from dying or not. If they are saved from dying of an overdose than they may have another chance to get help and make a better life for themselves and perhaps their families.

How Naloxone Works and Why It's Important

Narcan (naloxone) Spray Availability Poll

Do you think first responders should be able to stop overdose deaths with Narcan spray?

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    • nickico profile imageAUTHOR

      Niquel Cozart 

      4 years ago from New Jersey suburb

      Thanks. Yes it's very sad and scary. When I visit the city to see the beautiful Waterfront Aquarium there I am usually nervous about the dangers there.

    • techygran profile image


      4 years ago from Vancouver Island, Canada

      This is a pretty frightening account of life in a part of the US that was once prosperous and affirming to families. Good hub!


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