Amanda Heroin CARE

Recovering heroin addict Amanda Nicole Sweeney is getting emotional support during her recovery from a new group, Emmitsburg Cares.[still?]

Amanda Nicole Sweeney has big dreams. She wants to be a tattoo artist. She wants to sing.

She wants to go to Mount St. Mary’s University to study photography, and she wants to learn about the culinary arts at Frederick Community College.

But first, she wants to break free of her addiction to heroin.

Sweeney, 30, said she quit using heroin “cold turkey” about a month ago. She went through withdrawal without medication.

She doesn’t have a home, but stays with friends or co-workers. Her 8-year-old son lives with his father and her 11-year-old daughter lives with Sweeney's parents. She sees her kids for a few hours each week.

Sweeney is staying busy to keep her mind off the drug. She writes poetry about love, addiction and eviction, and she works for small businesses that do landscaping, construction and cleaning.

Since she quit using heroin, she has connected with Emmitsburg Cares, a grass-roots activist group seeking a solution to drug problems and crime in town.

“They send me prayers. They send me support,” she said. “They really help me with my mind and soul.”

Emmitsburg Cares, which has a Facebook page with more than 800 followers, first met two months ago at Emmitsburg’s town office.

Liz Buckman, an Emmitsburg resident who is leading the group, was elected a town commissioner last month.

Buckman said Emmitsburg Cares is “coaching” Sweeney toward a clean lifestyle and “re-enfranchising her into the community.”

To do that, the group encouraged her to enter a February boxing competition in Martinsburg, West Virginia, called the Toughman Contest. Sweeney registered for the event, and Buckman bought her protein powder to help her train.

“Overall mental and physical health is what we’re aiming for,” Buckman said.

Though that might help Sweeney, town residents long have been concerned about opioid addicts and drug dealers in Emmitsburg.

Emmitsburg Cares started with three residents — Buckman, Kathleen Walker and Mayor Don Briggs’ wife, Libby — and their conversations about the opioid epidemic.

“They’ve been watching this place for years, and they wondered, ‘Why haven’t the deputies done anything?’” the mayor said at the group’s first meeting.

Residents who spoke up said they were also frustrated with the status quo.

“Everybody likes to flap their gums, but nobody ever does anything,” one said.

From 2010 through 2015, the Frederick County Sheriff’s Office received 109 calls involving drugs in Emmitsburg.

Buckman has lived in Emmitsburg for a dozen years.

“Since I’ve moved here, I’ve noticed the quality of life dropping and the crime rising,” she said at that meeting.

She talked about concerns about heroin, prostitution and armed robberies in Emmitsburg.

“We don’t have the tools, besides unity, to take care of these problems,” she said.

Though the sheriff’s office received no calls regarding prostitution or armed robbery from 2010 to 2015, Buckman said prostitution is a newer problem in town.

Town commissioners and sheriff’s deputies who patrol Emmitsburg have encouraged residents to call police if they see something suspicious, such as a possible drug sale.

“We have to have the sense of pride of place to make this a better place,” Commissioner Tim O’Donnell said.

Sweeney’s father, Commissioner Clifford Sweeney, declined to speak to The Frederick News-Post for this story.

Briggs said drug addiction has been a difficult issue for the town government to deal with.

“It’s like a cloud that floats around,” he said. If law enforcement pushes addicts and sellers out of Emmitsburg, they move to Pennsylvania or to other parts of Frederick County.

“It’s like a cycle. It’ll come back here stronger,” he said.

Emmitsburg’s commissioners and staff are working to find extra money in the budget to pay for a third sheriff’s deputy to assist the two currently patrolling the town.

A few years ago, Briggs asked the commissioners to support a change in town laws that would make landlords responsible for illegal activity on their properties. That would create a watchful eye over potential addicts or dealers, he said, but he hasn’t gotten the community’s support for that change.

In the meantime, the town is working with sheriff’s deputies to reduce drug activity.

“It’s an age-old story. We know where it is, we’re pressing hard, but at the same time, there is a lot of police activity undercover that is going on,” Briggs said.

To help addicts who recently became sober, like Sweeney, Briggs said what’s really needed is something like a halfway house: a place they can stay after rehab to rebuild their lives and get adjusted to working life.

But Briggs said he hasn’t found a place to put one.

“People get really nervous that you have one of these houses in the community. They’re afraid of them,” he said.

The burden of supporting those recovering addicts falls on nonprofits, churches and helpful residents in Emmitsburg, he said.

“We’ll do what we can,” Briggs said. “It’s our community, and it’s our children.”

Follow Sylvia Carignan on Twitter: @SylviaCarignan.

(11) comments

hereitis

I had no idea Emmitsburg had prostitutes and armed robberies.

Aeader

Well my first comment got taken down so here's another only have this article is true, her son lives with me and his father and has been living with me since he was 3 years old and has always lived with his biological father she he was 6 months old

sonomals6

Must be a problem with reading comprehension and word placement in emmitsburg too. No where in the article did it say the children lived with her. It states that one lives with his father and one with Sweeney's parents.

cm_bb3

That would be Emmitsburg with an uppercase E, sonomals6. What a snide comment that was.

sonomals6

Snide comment cm_bb3? No, simply fact. Quite hilarious of you and your pretentious comment though regarding the capitalization of Emmitsburg. It is a shame that was all you could come up with when there is such a larger issue discussed in this article. You must be friends with Aeader. Perhaps you as well have an issue with reading comprehension and only comment to create drama such as Aeader who posted two nearly identical misspelled grammer error laden comments. Perhaps you could tell me where in the article any half truth was mentioned about the childrens living situation? Aeader, who probably misspelled her user name and meant to be Areader, in such a haste to post "Her Snide" comments, should perhaps take a second to properly read the article before making an untelligent comment. Aeader clearly has an issue with Sweeney as she dates the father of one child and only wishes to cast a negative opinion and view. Again, quite Snide. Anyone that seeks to cast criticism or draw negativity on someone who chooses to speak out about their addictions and problems and who seeks help is just as bad as the drugs. With help and treatment people can get clean, just as Korey Shorb, another Emmitsburg resident did. Quite being Snide cm_bb3 and try making a difference instead of trolling the FNP.

mndyhanlon

Every day we have a fresh opportunity to begin again. Hooray for this group! Hooray for the addicts in recovery! It is a long road. I will add them to my prayers. Being in slavery to addiction is a dark place alot of people don't want to understand. Keep on going!

LJF0929

How embarrassing for this woman's children who have already suffered the consequences of having a drug-addict mother in a small town. Unfortunately, all of the crimes this woman has committed will continue to haunt her young children as they attempt to piece together a life of strange boyfriends, living with family members, and the shame that goes along with addicted parents. The 11-year-old will certainly benefit from her mother's picture on the front of the paper for being a heroin addict. Can we consider the consequences FNP?

newspostreader

This is where adults in the community need to help the younger generation to understand more about this and that it's not something to be embarrassed about. Addiction is real. People who would have NEVER expected to be addicted have a life event that changes everything. These people, especially those like this lady, who want to end the addiction, needs our support, not our laughs, snickers or finger points.

Aeader

I think its great you brought up her children's because what is said in the article us only have true, the daughter lives with her parents and her son has lived with me and his father since he was 3 years old, he has never lived with her husband who is currently in jail or herself. If your going to write an article have the facts straight, I can't blame her dad for not commenting

rnrbug

Sad thing is her and her children are not a minority anymore. There are plenty of families dealing with this and the more light brought about it hopefully the better we are able to get ahold on this demon. LJF0929 consider yourself fortunate if it hasnt touched your family. Stop the Stigma!!

newspostreader

Kudos to her from wanting to break away from the addiction. It isn't an easy thing to do.
There is a free service that a lot of people do not know about. It's a text service where you can get support to get you through the strong urges:
Crisis Text Line is a United States not-for-profit organization providing free crisis intervention via SMS message. The organization's services are available 24 hours a day every day, throughout the US by texting 741741.

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