Chandigarh,India    © Chandigarh Newsline

Coming out of the closet: City’s first Alcoholics Anonymous woman group formed

Neelam Sharma

Posted online: Wednesday, November 28, 2007

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 occasionally 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 now.

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

*98148-46768, 9876828771 email:[email protected]

*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)

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