by Neelam Sharma
Expressindia. com, Wednesday, 28 November
Chandigarh, November 27
“I Started drinking after I got married. I began
with wine 12 years ago to accompany my husband. Soon,
I graduated to taking hard liquor, especially when there
was no wine in the house. After a couple of years, I remember
myself liberally taking liquor from my husband’s
bottles when he was away. He was aware of my drinking
habit. If I had low BP, I would take honey with rum to
get a sound sleep. Slowly my capacity increased and I
started hiding my husband’s liquor bottles so that
I can hoard and drink later. I have a son and a daughter.
Very recently I started passing out occasion- ally and
my husband would rush home to attend to me. This was affecting
his flourishing business. We then started arguing a lot
and even thought of getting separated several times. My
children, both teenagers now, were agonised and I was
filled with guilt. Until a friend recommended AA three
months ago,” narrates Payal, a housewife in her
mid-40s, married into a well off family in the tricity,
who has now decided to fight the battle against alcoholism.
She and three other women
are the first members of the woman’s chapter of
Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in Chandigarh . The first-of-
its-kind group was formed just a week ago and the group
will now meet on Wednesday to share their experience.
An AA member from Ireland is here to help the city’s
women conduct the group meetings.
“Though I have been
drinking for more than a decade now, I only started to
treat it as a disease very recently. It’s been three
months since I have even touched liquor. I realise how
many precious years of my life I wasted on alcohol,”
says Payal, adding reluctantly: “I would have been
a better mother without liquor.”
To join Payal in her group
is Aradhna, a senior level government official, who tried
beer as a young student to rebel against her “male-dominated
family”, started regularly drinking with her husband
and at official parties and is now hooked on it for the
last 30 years.
“My family objected
to my drinking and stopped talking to me for sometime.
My children kept blackmailing me emotionally saying that
they would leave me if I did not stop drinking. Nothing
helped. Medical reports showed that I had an enlarged
liver. And my drinking increased manifolds after my husband
died,” says Aradhna, in her 50s, promising herself
that she would be regular with the women’s AA meetings
Meanwhile, Jillie from
Ireland, who successfully said no to liquor after being
heavily dependent on it for 18 long years, says the special
woman’s forum would help women in the city share
their problems with ease.
“There are social
taboos which compel women to stay indoors and not share
their problems. Alcoholism is no different in men and
women. But I find that in India only men come to take
part in such meetings. The group is geared to address
that social problem.”
Ask Payal if there would
be many women like her needing help, she says: “There
are many who drink regularly but very few who realise
that it’s a problem.”
Helpline for AA women
*The AA for Woman, Chandigarh
Chapter, will meet twice a week on Wednesdays and Saturdays
at Carmel Convent School , Sector 9, at 6 pm.
*AA Chandigarh chapter
has around 300 members, of which less than 10 are women.
(All names have been changed
to protect identity)