LI Mom Shares Pizza Slices, Drug Addiction Awareness On Son’s Birthday

OLD FIELD, NY — Carole Trottere likes to explain to people when she meets them that she is not a social worker or a drug counselor.

She has been trained to administer naloxone, more commonly known by its brand name of Narcan, to reverse an opioid overdose, but she is not an expert in the field of medicine.

There is another expertise she claims.

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“I am an expert in grief,” Trottere said in a phone interview on Thursday.

Like too many mothers on Long Island, the semi-retired public relations rep lost her son, 30-year-old Alex Sutton, to an overdose of heroin and fentanyl in April 2018.

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“This is a huge problem,” she said.

Trottere compares tackling drug addiction to that of a giant tree with a lot of branches — including the areas of expertise like law enforcement, rehabilitation, and research.

Lacking in those areas of expertise she decided that even in a small way she could help alleviate the problem by spreading awareness about drug addiction and training local residents in the use of Narcan, especially the younger generation who are more susceptible to come in contact with drugs .

“If I could just reach a few people to train them on Narcan or reach, more importantly, the young people who might just be at a party and their best friend says, ‘Hey, I got these pills tonight.’ Or, you know, ‘Try this. Try that. Don’t worry about it. My drug dealer would never give me anything bad.'”

It’s easy for the young to get hooked because they are in a state of mind where they are excited and out meeting people, and not ever thinking about the worst scenario that could happen, Trottere said.

“Fentanyl is the worst thing that can happen,” she said. “The worst thing can happen when you are taking any of those drugs where you don’t know what is in it.”

Alex was living with Trottere in Old Field, and he was doing well. He was a welder and had just landed a big job in Illinois for a big manufacturer before he died at a friend’s apartment in Nassau County.

“What happens after that is like your whole world stops and your life ends,” she said, adding that Alex was her only child. “It’s been 4 1/2 years. Anybody whoever says, ‘Time heals everything,’ or ‘You’ll move on,’ they don’t … they never obviously lost someone close to them, if they really think that’s what happens because that’s not what happens.”

Trottere started a scholarship in Alex’s name with Nassau-Suffolk Board of Cooperative Education where he learned how to weld, and she became involved in different advocacy groups, but all this time, she felt that more needed to be done.

Visiting Alex’s favorite pizzeria to grab a slice, Station Pizza and Brews in Stony Brook, always stirs up sentimental emotions, and one day she came up with the idea of ​​holding a drug addiction awareness event there.

One that included giving out free slices of Alex’s beloved pizza.

Last Saturday, Trottere arranged for free slices and sodas for visitors attending the pizzeria in Alex’s memory on what would have been his 35th birthday. About 70 slices of pizza were handed out and then paid for by one of Alex’s friends. Forty-six people received drug overdose prevention training from Suffolk County police.

Trottere greeted attendees and handed out memorial cards with a message telling them to please remember that “Death is permanent and don’t take chances.”

“You can’t reboot it,” she said. “You can’t redo it and restart it. It’s like you take a chance on doing those drugs, and you know, that might be it for you. And the wake of grief you leave behind you is devastating.”

“And it’s not just your parents; it’s your siblings; it’s your friends; it’s your coworkers,” Trottere continued. ” It’s this spiderweb of grief. I call it … that goes out with every death.”

She cannot speculate as to why Alex decided to take the drug causing his death, and she noted he was not a daily user.

“I think it was just maybe a little escape he was looking for,” she said. “I mean, I don’t know; I don’t think I am ever going to have answers to that.”

Alex had been in rehab several years before, but he had been doing really well and was clean and sober for many years, Trottere said.

She describes Alex as very bright and funny, and a lover of music — a Grateful Dead fan — who was a loyal friend.

“He would just drop anything to help any one of them with something,” she said, noting that despite his depression and anxiety over the years, “he seemed to be in a very good place.”

“He was a beautiful boy,” Trottere said, her voice cracking.

When asked why she believes she is a master of grief, a tearful Trottere explained that she has been to grief counseling with the local organization, Grief Recovery After Substance Abuse Passing, or GRASP, and it’s helped her to survive and keep going.

“You learn that grief, it’s not going to go away,” she said. “It just changes, maybe, but you never get back to where you were. It’s like your whole life … someone just took it and turned it at 180 degrees.”

As for another pizza day, Trottere is still getting over last Saturday.

“I would say I am certainly open to it,” she said. “We had a really good crowd.”

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