Erika Hurt has come a long way in one year.
On October 22, 2016, police in Hope, Indiana, released a photo of Hurt passed out behind the steering wheel of her car from an apparent overdose, with a syringe in her hand. Even more disturbing: Her 10-month-old son, Parker, was found crying in the backseat.
The picture, released by Hope Town Marshal Matt Tallent to draw attention to rising opioid abuse, quickly went viral.
“They exposed me and my addiction to the whole world,” Hurt told NBC News on Wednesday, October 25. “I thought it was terrible.”
But now the 26-year-old, who is one year sober, says she is grateful for that chilling image from last October.
“At this point in my life . . . I do think it was a good thing because I’m able to look back and see that’s who I was, and that was the place it led to,” she told NBC News.
During the interview, Hurt revealed that the trouble began when she contracted a staph infection at age 15 and was prescribed painkillers. When an addicted Hurt ran out of refills, she moved on to heroin.
Hurt had been two weeks clean when she relapsed in the parking lot of a Dollar General Store with her infant in the car.
“I justified it by saying, ‘He’s so young, he’ll have no idea what’s going on. He won’t know even if he does see it,’” she told NBC News.
Hurt fell unconscious and officers revived her with two doses of Narcan, an emergency treatment used to reverse narcotic drug overdoses. She pleaded guilty to neglect of a dependent and was given a two-year suspended jail sentence that mandated she go to an inpatient drug rehab program at jail, per NBC News.
Hurt signed over temporary custody of Parker to her mom, Jami Smith. The three now live together, and Hurt, who attends court-mandated rehab, has a job in a plastic-molding plant.
Though Hurt was initially “embarrassed” by the police releasing a picture of her overdose, she feels much differently today. In fact, Hurt wrote the police department a note thanking them.
“Young people make mistakes,” Tallent told NBC News. “People are allowed to make mistakes as long as they recognize it and come back stronger. That’s what this is about.”
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