Some of the members AA from Asia Oceana Service Meet share their experiences

To encourage Indian women suffering from alcoholism to seek help and reduce the social stigma related to the problem, a delegation of around 60 Australian women visited here on Saturday.

Some of the members of the Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) fellowship from Asia Oceana Service Meet (AOSM) shared their life experiences with a hope to reach out and help women alcoholics. Sara (name changed) started consuming liquor when she was 15 years. Her day would begin with large drinks of whisky.

“No one in my family wanted to be with me. I felt isolated and miserable. I faced problems in dealing with people in my family. Even after I got married I had this problem. My children were so scared to be around me.”

But the world is different for her now. She is a member of the AA and has been leading a normal life for the past two years. “I am so thankful to fellowship of people in AA and I became a full-time volunteer so that other people who want to quit alcohol get to know [and learn] about my experience.”

Moral problem

Like Sara, women in India are increasingly falling into the trap of alcohol. “The problem with Indian women is that society sees this problem as a moral problem but not as a disease,” said Jane Chester, a sociologist.

Priya (name changed) suffered from severe depression and started consuming liquor to ward off her worries. This continued for almost two years till she finally decided to quit alcohol.

“It is a shame for a woman if she is an alcoholic; society looks down upon you. My life changed after six months and today I am a changed girl,” she said.

“I felt so embarrassed to join any group which can treat my problem as people would come to know about me,” she said.

Overcoming stigma

“Now after recovery I feel just this problem of alcoholism has nothing do with gender, women too can have a problem. And it's really important that society stops seeing women with a drinking problem as being easily available and morally ambiguous. Many women consume alcohol but they don’t speak out because they are afraid of the stigma attached to it. In AA we have regular meetings of women groups and we also visit psychiatrists,” she added.

Psychiatric disorders

Vanda Rounsefell, psychiatrist, said: “People who suffer from alcoholism suffer from psychiatric disorders. Once you treat that disorder, they recover fast.”

“Especially girls in their twenties suffer from psychological disorders like depression, phobia and anxiety,” she added.

To break the taboos associated with women and alcohol, the delegates of AA have travelled to India.

They will be meeting women in colleges, universities and hospitals to help women alcoholics recover.

AA Helpline

The members of delegation appealed to women in the State to call AA's helpline for women (033) 24191174 anytime to get their problem addressed.