Viral Photo Of Mother's Heroin Overdose Saves Her Life

NBC News

There's embarrassment and then there's utter shame. For Erika Hurt, a 26-year-old with a young son, a photo of her sprawled in the driver's seat of her car overdosed on heroin was not the image of herself she wanted to portray to the world.

Some would ball up in shame and abuse themselves further after a photo like this would go viral, but Hurt wasn't going to let that photo define the rest of her life. In fact, that photo posted by the Town of Hope Police Department in 2016 saved her life.

"Erika Hurt sits with her baby in the back seat of the car in Hope, Indiana. Police said she appeared unresponsive from an overdose and had a syringe in her hand."Town of Hope Police Department via AP

The town's police department said they never meant to embarrass or shame Hurt, they only wanted to draw attention to America's opioid epidemic. The county of Bartholomew reported that the number of fatal drug overdoses had skyrocketed year after year.

Hope Town Marshal Matt Tallent, who posted the photo, said in a statement that he's glad the photo helped Hurt to better her life.

Hurt said she first got hooked on painkillers before she tried heroin. She tried to help herself before she was caught shooting up in the parking lot of a Dollar General Store.

A year later, Hurt thanked the police department for posting the photo and is content about the changes in her life.

"I was so hurt and embarrassed. I had no clue that the picture had even been taken," Hurt told NBC News. "But at the same time, it was kind of a really big eye opener to see myself like that."

Erika Hurt and her son ParkerNBC News

Tallent told NBC News that Hurt's story is an inspiration.

"Young people make mistakes," he said. "People are allowed to make mistakes as long as they recognize it and come back stronger. That's what this is about."

Moojan has been a writer at Shared for a year. When she's not on the lookout for viral content, she's looking at cute animal photos. Reach her at