One of the lowest moments in Erika Hurt’s life went viral in 2016, when a police officer released an image of her overdosing on heroin in a Hope, Indiana, parking lot.
“It’s hard to look at, but I wouldn’t be where I am today without that picture,” Hurt, 28, told TODAY Parents.
In the photo, which was meant to raise awareness about the opioid epidemic, an unconscious Hurt sat slumped behind the wheel, while her infant son, Parker, cried in the backseat.
Hurt was revived by Narcan, an emergency treatment used to reverse narcotic drug overdoses, and she was later sentenced to six months at Bartholomew County Jail.
Now, Hurt is going viral again, but in these images posted to the Addicts Diary Facebook page, she is bright-eyed and beaming. Hurt holds a sign that reads, “Narcan saved my life,” while 3-year-old Parker’s says, “And now I get to have my mommy.”
On October 22, Hurt celebrated three years of sobriety.
“He didn’t know who I was... That was when I was decided I truly wanted to be sober.”
Though Hurt was initially humiliated when her addiction was exposed to the world, she has since changed her perspective.
“I’m able to see how far I’ve come,” she told TODAY Parents.
Hurt admits she wasn’t much of a mother when she was shooting heroin four times a day. “I was very mentally absent,” she revealed. “I didn’t play with him or show him attention. And I took him on drug deals."
When Parker would visit Hurt in prison after her 2016 arrest, he didn’t want to sit on her lap.
“He didn’t know who I was or how to interact with me,” she explained. “That was, ultimately, when I was decided I truly wanted to be sober.”
Today, Hurt describes Parker as “a straight-up mama's boy.” Though the pair hate being apart, Hurt heads out three nights a week to lead Celebrate Recovery meetings in Columbus, Indiana.
“It isn’t easy, but all the encouragement keeps me going,” Hurt said. “Parker is counting on me and I can’t give up.”
Drug overdose is the leading cause of injury-related death in the United States according to the Centers for Disease Control. Of those deaths, approximately 68 percent involved a prescription or illicit opioid.