Pooja is the kind of woman, every man wants to be with and every woman wants to be. She has a high-flying career in a leading MNC, is drop-dead gorgeous and is sharper and more driven than most of her colleagues. But she has a deep, dark secret that could ruin her career and her life. She is a raging alcoholic and there’s no way she can seek help!
Alcoholism among women isn’t just on the rise in the West but in India as well. Perhaps an unwanted baggage of feminism and equality there is a marked increase in the number of cases of alcoholism among career-oriented women. Fr Joe Pereira, founder of de-addiction clinic Kripa told TOI “They consider themselves equal to men and enjoy the benefits of improved incomes and easier access to alcohol,” he says, “but unfortunately the opportunities for de-addiction, although equally available to women, are not equally availed of by them.” He adds that while Kripa has seen over 40,000 men in the last 32 years it has barely had 400 women who came there for help.
It’s even tougher for Indian women to admit they’re alcoholics because of the so-called ‘code of conduct’ expected from women in our country (It’s not uncommon to see marital ads by men who want women as brides who don’t drink). While it’s okay for a man to seek out help for his addiction problem, a woman even acknowledging she has a drinking problem is almost blasphemous. Alcoholic Anonymous India’s chairman too confirmed the fact that women don’t seek help explaining that while AA – India has helped over 30,000 people recover from alcoholism, less than 100 were women.
The problem is compounded by the fact that most AA centres in India are almost exclusively male community with very few female members. This makes women uncomfortable and they don’t really seek out help. The only way forward is to accept that drinking is a problem and give people who are addicted the help they need – irrespective of their gender.