Mom Behind Viral Heroin Overdose Photo Celebrates 3 Years of Sobriety

Erika Hurt is now sober after struggling with a years-long heroin addiction.
Erika Hurt, now 28, released a new set of photos celebrating her sobriety since the day she overdosed.(Ali Elizabeth Photography/Keywords Co.)

Erika Hurt, now 28, was photographed overdosing in her car, syringe still in hand, with her infant son crying in the back seat.

It has been three years since Indiana mom Erika Hurt went viral while overdosing on heroin in her car with her infant son in the back seat.

She celebrated her continued sobriety Thursday with a special photo shoot, in which her son Parker holds up a sign that reads, “And now I get to have my mommy.”

“3 years ago I was receiving [NARCAN] to bring me back to life after I had overdosed on heroin; all while my son, my mom, and her wife stood and watched,” Hurt said in a post on Facebook. “While I can admit that my son was unfortunately not enough to keep me sober then, he is my motivation today.”

In the photos, taken as a collaboration between Ali Elizabeth Photography and Keywords Co., she and her son smile as she holds up her own sign that reads, “NARCAN saved my life.”

Hurt, now 28, told exactly one year after the photo was taken that her journey with opioids began when she was just 15 years old.

She said she had somehow contracted a staph infection and was prescribed pain pills. When the prescription ran out, she continued buying pills off the street.

Her tolerance increased and less than four years later, she was introduced to heroin.

“I started stealing to support my habit; I was going to any measure to support my next fix,” Hurt said. “I finally realized I had an addiction and had a problem that needed medical attention at 21 years old.”

Her cycle of rehab and relapse continued for the next several months until her first overdose on October 22, 2016.

Hurt was photographed by police unconscious behind the wheel while parked in front of a Dollar General store, her head tilted back and her hand still loosely gripping a syringe.

Parker was crying in the backseat when police officers arrived.

“My next memory was when I was getting into the ambulance,” Hurt recalled. “I have a memory of thinking, did I overdose? What happened? That was my first overdose.”

Hurt was revived with NARCAN and later pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent and was given a two-year suspended jail sentence that required her to go to an inpatient drug rehab program.

She said she was embarrassed and humiliated after the photo taken by police went viral, but the low point helped her realize that she needed to get clean for good.

She spent the next three years attending Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous meetings several times a week and spent time living in a sober community.

Hurt now credits her sobriety to her son.

“What caused me to have the true want and desire to stay sober was my son,” she said. “Me being away from him really hurt our bond. I missed his first birthday, I missed his first Thanksgiving, I missed his first steps, his first words – each time he hit a new milestone, I had to live that painful moment of not being there for him.”