An overdose: “You’ve got to fight it, Billy!” New York City, 1965.

For this story, LIFE photographer Bill Eppridge spent two months living with a pair of junkies. In order to persuade the couple to let him and a writer completely invade their world, he told them it was their chance to make a contribution to society. The couple thought it over and finally replied, “O.K. This gives us a chance to do something good.” Eppridge became so ingrained in the sordid, desperate life of the heroin addict that, at one point, narcotics detectives, convinced he had stolen his cameras and LIFE credentials, were about to haul him off to jail. The articles’s writer came by and finally straightened things out.

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