© The Telegraph,  Calcutta, India

8/7/08

Battling bottle for 25 years

A STAFF REPORTER
Excessive drinking had almost ruined Dhruv (name changed) when he finally found the strength to set aside the bottle, thanks to a support group called the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA).

Alcoholism — identified as a disease by the World Health Organisation — was once considered almost incurable. But it is much easier to kick the habit now with help from the AA programme, whose Calcutta chapter turns 25 this month.

The programme started in the city in 1983 to help problem drinkers and currently has over 15 groups spanning Dum Dum to Behala. AA Calcutta has more than 400 active members from all walks of life, between the ages of 20 and 70 years.

“As we expanded our activities in the city, doctors began referring patients to us. People also started looking up AA on the Internet and coming to our office on Nandan Street,” said a Calcutta AA spokesperson.

The AA holds meetings across the city every evening at 7pm, “for the recovering alcoholics by the recovering alcoholics”. There is no membership fee. The programme relies on shared experiences and strengths of members and on the suggested 12 steps for recovery from alcoholism.

“Alcoholism is like diabetes. Just like a diabetic can lead a fulfilling life by staying away from sugar, alcoholics can lead a normal life by foregoing one drink a day at a time,” the spokesperson said.

Calcutta AA also holds meetings with the Border Security Force in West Bengal and the northeastern states, as well as with railway officials and police, to raise awareness about alcoholism and the AA.

To celebrate its 25th year, Calcutta AA is organising a programme on September 27 and 28. “It will be attended by AA members from all over India and will help create greater awareness about AA,” said the spokesperson


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