Miss Nevada USA Teams Up with Vegas Rehab to Fight Addiction

By Dorri Olds 06/22/16

After losing her sister to substance abuse, Miss Nevada USA is using her platform to promote addiction prevention and awareness.

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Miss Nevada USA Teams Up with Vegas Rehab to Fight Addiction
Photo YouTube/KTNV

Emelina “Emmy” Adams is using her new role as Miss Nevada USA 2016 to bring attention to an issue that's close to her heart—substance abuse. Just six weeks after being crowned Miss Nevada USA, Adams lost her 39-year-old sister Jessica "due to substance abuse" on New Year's Day this year.

"It really had a huge impact on me and my whole family," Adams told Good Morning Las Vegas on Saturday. "I’m just happy that I can raise awareness about that now." Her tremendous grief over the tragedy inspired her to go public with her family's story, and to use her experience to help others.

Adams said her home life compelled her to raise awareness about substance abuse. “I grew up in a home with addiction so, as Miss Nevada USA, I wanted to have substance abuse as my platform,” she told the morning show. For months, Adams has volunteered at Solutions Recovery, a Las Vegas rehab facility, where she has been "working one-on-one with the clients and sharing my stories, and they share their stories." 

"It’s been so nice connecting with them and I’ve learned so much having that hands-on experience," Adams told Good Morning Las Vegas. "I eventually want to be a child psychologist so it’s been nice working with other people."

As in any family dealing with addiction, Adams' childhood was wrought with the strains of her sister’s drug dependence. “When I was a little girl, it was so difficult for me,” Adams told the Las Vegas Sun in January, after her sister's passing. “I had to go through counseling because of it. That kind of experience has an impact on a child.”

Adams faced her challenges by learning to be “very self-sufficient,” and held fast to her commitment to say no to drugs. Interestingly, the tiara-wearing beauty was once arrested for a DUI.

“It was during the summer of 2013,” Adams told the Sun. “I had turned 21 in February, and I was out with friends. I had a little too much to drink. It was hot, and I thought it would be a good idea to sleep it off in my car. But in the state of Nevada, if the car is on and the keys are within reach, it’s considered a DUI—even if you aren’t driving. Had I known that, I would have just hopped in a cab and gone home.”

Now, instead of dwelling on the past, Adams is intent on turning a bad experience into a positive message. Jessica's death was "really tragic," she told the Sun. "Jessica struggled with addiction, and her death has pushed me to tell my story and try to help others."

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Dorri Olds is an award-winning writer whose work has appeared in many publications including The New York Times, Marie Claire, Woman’s Day and several book anthologies. Find Dorri on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn.