Overdose death of son inspires Greenwich mother to help families
A Greenwich mother says the overdose death of her 26-year-old son Alec Pelletier was the starting point in her journey of helping other families avoid the same loss.
Dita Bhargava says her son died of an accidental overdose on his birthday in 2018. In the years leading up to his death, Bhargava was a top executive for Fortune 500 companies and ran twice for state treasurer -- all while being a mom to three other kids as well.
"He was warm, vivacious -- just a big teddy bear is how people described him, just so huggable,” says Bhargava. "It's hurt and pain that never, ever goes away.”
She says the nonprofit organization Shatterproof is partnering with the Connecticut Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services to introduce a program called ATLAS.
It will provide families with a directory of addiction treatment centers. Bhargava says her son's death inspired her to be part of the effort to help families going through similar experiences and end the stigma surrounding addiction.
"So they will be able to go to ATLAS and find a treatment center that has a quality standard of care, and therefore not have to go through all the pain and agony that we did for so many years," says Bhargava.
"As a child, Alec suffered from depression and bipolar [disorder]...he started medicating in his teenage years."
She says it began with alcohol and marijuana -- this eventually led to opioids and heroin.
"As parents we were just beside ourselves. How to find Alec the right help. We struggled, we tried so hard. We went to many treatment centers,” says Bhargava. “Health care protocols were severely inadequate and they're still inadequate."
Pelletier died while living in a sober home with a package of Narcan beside him -- she says he did not want to die.
"There's not a day that goes by where we don't think about him and that we're not inspired by him to finish this work, to do this work, so that every family has the opportunity to find help for their loved one," says Bhargava.