In a corner of Philadelphia known locally as the Badlands some of the purest heroin in the country can be bought for just $5 a bag.

The half-mile stretch of rail track has become a refuge for hundreds of heroin addicts.

For more than 20 years homeless people and drug users have sought refuge in this gulch where about 70 people live along the tracks and up to 200 pass through every day to shoot up.

As nightmarish as it feels, users say it’s a safe place, away from the police and the rest of the public, where people look out for each other and outreach workers visit regularly.


Get help: The South African Depression and Anxiety Group (SADAG), together with the Department of Social Development, launched a toll-free helpline for substance abuse. The number is 0800 12 13 14 and a 24-hour helpline is available from Monday to Sunday.

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