Police in Indiana have released a shocking photo of a mother passed out in the front seat of her car from a drug overdose with her 10-month old son crying in the back seat.

The image has been publicised to highlight the growing problem of America's drug epidemic - specifically opioid addiction.

Erika Hurt, 25, was found by police as in Hope, Indiana, on Saturday still holding a syringe in her hand. Hurt's mother said her daughter had left rehab earlier this month.

Erika Hurt's mother said her daughter had left rehab earlier this month. Photo / AP
Erika Hurt's mother said her daughter had left rehab earlier this month. Photo / AP

"Parents are doing this more often with children in the car because they are doing it away from someone who is going to disapprove," said Matthew Tallent, a police marshal. "This is becoming a new norm for drug users."

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"We're finding a lot of needles right now," he said, adding that the country's drug addiction problem was "leaking into small town USA"

Source: Facebook: Courtland Garner. Warning: contains disturbing images associated with drug use.

In Indiana alone, 452 people died of opioid drug overdoses in 2014, rising to 595 last year, the IndyStar reported.

A similar image was released last month of a couple overdosing in a car in Ohio with a child in the back.

Rhonda Pasek, 50, and James Acord, 47, were charged with endangering children after being found by police in the city of East Liverpool unconscious with their four-year-old son in the back.

A similar image was released last month of a couple overdosing in a car in Ohio. Photo / East Liverpool Police department
A similar image was released last month of a couple overdosing in a car in Ohio. Photo / East Liverpool Police department

Overdose deaths tied to opiates have skyrocketed in recent years in a widening epidemic involving growing abuse of heroin as well as prescription painkillers such as Vicodin, OxyContin and Percocet.

The number of these deaths quadrupled to nearly 28,700 in 2014 from 2000, according to US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data.