After three phases of ‘Operation Rio Grande,’ life looking up for former drug addict

SALT LAKE CITY -- Emily Leix was battling addiction when she found out she was pregnant. She had been in and out of prison and was barely holding on. It was then she made a decision that her unborn child would be born healthy and drug free.

“I quit cold turkey, I had never been into rehab or any kind of treatment center before," Leix said.

But the lack of treatment and the right kind of support left her to relapse three years later. However, thanks to Operation Rio Grande, Leix is now getting her life back on track.

Operation Rio Grande started with phase one, getting drug dealers off the streets.

Phase two aimed at getting those who wanted help into transitional housing.

Now phase three, called the Dignity of Work, provides employment opportunities.

Nicholas and Company hired Leix after pairing up with the Department of Workforce Services. They hired her even though she has a criminal record.

She feels the support has been outstanding.

She has an employment specialist, a drug court case manager who helped get her into a sober living program, and even provided transportation to and from work because her license is suspended.

“Most of what we are focusing in on are the types of skill building and how we can continue to help them get the resources that they need," DWS Employment Center Manager, Loggins Merrill said.

DWS hopes to give purpose and dignity to recovering addicts like Emily Leix.

So far the program has helped employ 106 people. DWS says over the next year they will continue to provide employment counselors to work with the drug court system and people going through treatment.

Here's a link to jobs available through the Department of Workforce Services.