Celebrity Families

Why this shocking photo of a drug addicted mum saved her life

''I felt very humiliated, I felt very angry. It was hard for me to truly believe that it was me.''

By Bettina Tyrrell
Warning: disturbing imagery.
The photo is horrifying. A woman is slumped in the driver’s seat of her car, head back, unconscious, a syringe clutched in her hand. At first you think the photo is staged and then on second look you wonder if the woman is alive.
What paints this picture with even more concern is that there is an infant boy crying in the back seat while his mum has overdosed.
One year ago, Erika Hurt overdosed on heroine in a car park while her 10-month-old son was crying in the back seat of the car. Photo courtesy of Hope Police Department.
This tragic scene played out a year ago this month, but for the woman in the picture, Erika Hurt, it might as well be a lifetime ago. The 26-year-old woman from Indiana has taken to Facebook to celebrate her year long sobriety.
"I've seriously debated for the past month, on whether I should repost such a painful picture displaying the absolute worst moment of my life," she penned alongside a collage of photos with her son, and including the photo of her overdose.
"Little did I know that day, my life was about to change, drastically."
The day the photo was taken; Hurt had driven her car to a car park of a dollar store to shoot up heroin. She had just left a month-long stint in rehab two weeks earlier and she had her 10-month-old in the back of the car.
A customer found her slumped in the car and immediately called emergency services.
A police officer on the scene snapped the now-famous photo and it wasn’t until journalist came calling for an interview from Hurt did she realise that the photo had reached the public and gone viral.
"I felt very humiliated, I felt very angry," she said. "You know, it was hard for me to truly believe that it was me," she told CNN.
While Hurt had been seeking help for her addiction since she was 21-years-old, it wasn’t until she saw the photo that she had the determination to stay clean. Hurt spent six months in intense rehab and continues to follow a program of meetings with a therapist and a sobriety coach.
Today, Hurt is thriving. She has a full-time job at a local factory and she cares for her son, but her mother has guardianship while she focuses on staying on track.
"Today, I am able to focus on the good that came from that picture. Today, I am a mother to my son, again. Today, I am able to be grateful to actually have solid proof where addiction will only lead you, and today I am able to say that I am one year sober!" the mum wrote on Facebook.
If you or someone you know is battling addiction and wants help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14 or visit lifeline.org.au.