The ache was nothing short of crippling. Not a headache or stomachache. Jamie’s entire body ached. She was sweating so profusely that her clothes were soaked—and yet she still had the chills. Her nose was running. Her eyes were watering. It was 6 a.m.

Jamie had to find money, and fast. She needed it for her “blues”—30-milligram pills of OxyContin, each one costing her about $7. Jamie took 30 a day.

By 8 a.m., she had the cash. Jamie was only 17, but she knew exactly how to fund her habit. She would take money from bums, promise to bring them pills—and never return. She would lift cash off of addicts going through withdrawal because they were too weak to resist. She swiped gift cards and sold them for half price on the street. She worked at local massage parlors. She prostituted herself.

By 9 a.m., the ache had faded. Jamie would score her blues, crush them and shoot up on the street, in the back of a bus or inside a public bathroom. It didn’t matter. The high would last six to eight hours. By dawn the next morning, the 30 blues were history.

The pain would return, creeping into her bones. And the cycle would begin anew. Just one blurry cycle: Find money, get pills, crush pills, shoot pills, feel better, shoot more pills, run out of pills, writhe in pain, find money, get more pills.

“You just get so tired of it,” Jamie says. “You’re out there trying to make money walking up and down the street, just sitting there crying while you’re doing these pills [and thinking] ‘I want to stop, I can’t.’ ... Not knowing where to go, not knowing what to do. Having nowhere to go.

“It’s like you’d rather be dead than to keep going on like that.”

To read more of "Prescription For Addiction", pick up on February issue.