Share your “pain and guilt” and stay away from alcohol and drug addiction. This is the latest mantra adopted by CARE (chemical addiction rehabilitation education), a Bangalore-based rehabilitation centre to help alcohol addicts here.

At an ongoing free counselling programme conducted by CARE at its office in Bannerghatta Road here, counsellors are encouraging visitors, who are mainly alcoholics, to share their pain and guilt to help them get rid of addiction.

“There is nothing like sharing one’s pain and anguish. Talking is great therapy. Bottled up pain and anger are primary causes for most people resorting to alcoholism and substance abuse in the city,” Mr. Balakrishna, a senior counsellor at CARE, told IANS.

“On a frequent basis we are conducting free counselling programmes for alcoholics and drug addicts of the city. In these programmes we are encouraging the patients to open up and talk about their problems,” added Mr. Balakrishna, who prefers to be called only by his first name. Mr. Balakrishna said there is a lot of laughter during the talks, which is another great emotional healer.

The current programme started Oct 2, coinciding with the birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi who strongly disapproved the use of alcohol. Six counsellors are giving free counselling to the visitors. The programme ended Thursday. Around 70 people have participated in the counselling programme so far. Of late, alcoholism has grown into a big menace in Bangalore. According to a recent report by the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (Nimhans), around 36 percent of Bangaloreans are exposed to alcohol and around four percent of them are chronic alcoholics.

“In Bangalore, more than 40 percent of youngsters in the age group of 15-20 are addicted to alcohol. In today’s busy world, people don’t have time to communicate with each other and lack of a support system is causing a rise in alcohol use,” said Mr. C.R. Chandrashekhar, professor of psychiatry, Nimhans.

Visitors attending the counselling programme said that it had helped them understand themselves better and had encouraged them to stay away from alcohol.

“I have been addicted to alcohol for the past six years. Every night I have to drink, or else I feel suffocated. I developed alcohol addiction as I lost both my parents early in life and I was sort of angry with the whole world. I took refuge in alcohol. Now I plan to go for a rehabilitation programme to quit alcohol completely after attending the counselling programme and start life afresh,” said Mr. Gautam K (name changed), a city-based businessman.

College student Ms. Shwetha Narayanan (name changed) has similar views. She has been drinking heavily for the past two years.

“I felt lost in the crowd. I felt an outsider, as I fared badly in both academics and co-curricular activities. I had no one to share my pain and took up drinking to beat the stress,” said Ms. Shwetha.

“Many teenagers in the city are turning drinking into a habit. It’s a serious issue and we want to deal with it. We’re planning to conduct workshops in educational institutes of Bangalore to help youngsters stay away from alcohol,” said Balakrishna.

Established 11 years ago, CARE is currently treating 72 alcohol and drug addicts as i-patients at its rehabilitation centre.

“We have our psychiatrists, counsellors and general medical practitioners to take care of the inmates,” said Mr. Balakrishna.