The young Mattituck woman had just spent months battling her demons, and had been living at home with her mother, Karen Allar, when she lost the fight on January 20.
Samantha, her mother said, thought the drug, given to her in powdered form, was cocaine, but it was heroin.
"Addictions are horrible," Allar said.
In the dark days since her daughter's death, Allar has found comfort in the three-year-old son Samantha left behind, and in her three remaining children. Samantha, she said, was the youngest of four.
And through her grief, Allar found the strength to move ahead by sharing her daughter's story, in the hopes of saving another young person's life. Allar has been raising awareness in the hopes that Suffolk County's recent pilot program for for Narcan, a drug that can reverse an overdose, might be expanded statewide; a second initiative to expand the program is underway that would allow access to Narcan by parents, volunteers and others not in the medical profession.
Narcan, blocks the brain receptors that heroin activates, instantly reversing an overdose.
"They didn't have Narcan for Samantha," Allar said.
Susan Toman, executive director of The Guidance Center in Southold, said while Dittmeier used heroin by mistake, in general, heroin use is exploding on the East End. "Heroin has become easy to obtain on the East End and throughout Suffolk County."
The price of heroin has dropped, Toman said, making it easier to purchase the drug. A bag of heroin, Toman said, can be bought for $7.
According to a release from the SCPD, there've been 35 successful administrations of Narcan since July 2012, including two cases during last summer where intranasal Narcan reversed potentially fatal overdoses.Remembering her daughter, Allar said, "She loved life. She was very caring. She'd give you the shirt off her back."
Although the family once lived in Babylon Village, they moved to Mattituck six years ago.
Last year, after finishing a stint in rehab, Samantha had completed treatment and had found work at Tanger.
"What's so hard is driving home," Allar said. Since the two both worked in Riverhead, Allar would drive her daughter every day. "We'd pass Harbes and turn the car around for roasted corn. She loved the Elbow Room in Jamesport. And, like me, she loved garage sales. You drive by, and you remember those times."
Samantha, she said, fought addiction for eight years, since was 15 and the manager of the store where she worked offered her marijuana. From there, she moved on to drinking and a bad crowd, and then, her downslide into a cocaine addiction.
Remembering her daughter's last night, she said Samantha was in a hotel, where she mistakenly took the heroin.
The next day, Allar said, she got a call, saying, "Your daughter is blue."
Although she called 911 and raced to help, "They couldn't bring her back."
Drugs, Allar said, "are a disease. They just made her into somebody that she wasn't, and totally destroyed her life."
Allar will speak Saturday night at an event held at the Jamesport Meeting House, at an event organized to remember Samantha — and to raise awareness. "If there is something I can do that will help somebody, that's all I care about," she said.
The event was organized by North Fork resident, music manager Stefano DiBenedetto, a musical artist manager/consultant who has worked with Billy Joel, Linkin Park, and Joan Jett. Performing in the show, which is free, will be Cass Dillon and Natasha Owens.
"Samantha was full of life — like sunshine, she brightened a room," DiBenedetto said. "The cloud of addiction hung over her and without properly addressing the malady the most intelligent, beautiful people succumb and perish. Samantha would want us to celebrate her life."
He added, "If this event raises awareness and helps one person, one family, we've done something good."
The show will begin Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Jamesport Meeting House.