For Mallamma (name changed), it was virtually the end of the road. Her husband threw her out of home and even her children abandoned her. For the 55-year-old alcoholic, life meant managing to live till the next drink. Soon, she was on the streets with no money to buy alcohol. Craving for a drink, and not able to afford it, she tried to end her life.
For Mallamma, who had failed as wife, mother and a human being, the suicide was yet another failure. She didn’t die. Someone kind took her to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). Two sessions at the NGO, and Malamma began at what what had become of her. It wasn’t easy, but at least she began to cope.
It’s been three years now. Mallamma hasn’t had a drink. Her family took her back and she lives with her 10 grand- children. She appears as happy as a 58-year-old can be.
Mallamma is one of the lucky ones among women alcohol addicts in the city. In a city of 80 lakh, the number of female alcoholics would be more than the mere 20 registered with AA.
A team of 63 women members of AA from Australia, USA, Russia, Virgin Islands and New Zealand, visited Bangalore on Wednesday.
“The social stigma attached towards alcoholism in women is the same across the world. Their families are ashamed and rejected them, resulting in the death of many due to alcoholism. The cases don’t even come to light,” said Louise Dunne, a member of the AA, Australia.
In many cases, the families feel ashamed to take them for therapy and confine them to home.
“This leads to more alcoholism. The families are fine with them being alcoholics but are ashamed to send them for therapy. Families need to help them and take them to therapy. We at AA don’t have a stance on alcoholism. We help only those who come to us,” said Vanda Rounsell, another member of AA.
If the number of urban women who registered for AA’s programme are few, it is worse with rural women, said another member of AA.
However, the delegation from abroad has an agenda to help AA in India to help them in dealing with alcoholism in women.
AA members are also teaching members here to take each day at a time. “This is called relapse prevention in medical terms. It is to ensure that you don’t drink for 24 hours and then meet the group. The next day and the day after that and so on and so forth,” she explained.