Maybe you’ve seen her viral photo, but you don’t know the whole story.
This image of a woman slumped in the front seat of her car, overdosed on heroin and still holding the syringe as her son sits in the back seat, spread around the internet like wildfire last year. But while you may remember the story you’ve probably forgotten the name of the woman in the photo: Erika Hurt.
After the photo was taken, Hurt woke up in an ambulance. Medics told her that she had almost died from an overdose, and that they had used a shot of the drug Narcan to keep her alive. She was also charged with neglect of a dependent, and when police showed her the now infamous photo she thought it was “terrible.”
“They exposed me and my addiction to the whole world,” she told NBC News. But as painful as hitting rock bottom was, that picture was also the beginning of Hurt’s long and difficult journey to sobriety. “I do think it was a good thing,” she says now, “because I’m able to look back and see that’s who I was, and that was the place it led to.”
And a year after the photo was taken, Hurt and her son’s lives have changed completely…
After her overdose, Hurt was given a two year suspended jail sentence, and was required to go to rehab.
She also had to sign over custody of her son Parker to her mother. It was embarrassing and painful, but Hurt overcame her addiction and graduated from her treatment program. She moved in with her mother (Hurt is still under house arrest) and even found a job at a nearby factory.
Hurt doesn’t excuse her behavior, but now it’s clear to see how she ended up in that car in the parking lot of a Dollar General. An infection she caught as a teenager was treated with painkillers, and Hurt soon became addicted. She moved on to heroin, and eventually took the nearly-fatal shot, which was mixed with morphine.
But a year later, Hurt is drug free and rebuilding her life with her son, hoping she can get back custody of him soon. She appreciates what the photo did for her, and even sent a thank-you note to Town Marshall Matt Tallent, who uploaded the photo to the internet and made her story national news.
“For this girl to have her life ripped up and then come back and be sober after everything that’s happened to her, that’s a story of success,” Tallent said.
Share this story if you believe everyone deserves a second chance!