city anchor: Alcoholics Anonymous on a high after show on Satyamev Jayate
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The organisation has 22 active groups in the city. "On an average, every group used to have 25-30 members attending the meetings. After our organisation was discussed on Satyameva Jayate, the number has suddenly increased. Now the average attendance is 35 to 40," says Nandkumar, manager at AA, Pune office.
He added that even the number of queries and SMSes on the helpline number of Pune branch -— 9049457757 — has increased manifold. The day the show was aired, Pune office received 15,000 SMSes and 12,000 enquiry calls. "Even now, we have around 10 people visiting our Tilak Road office almost everyday. Besides, there are around 20-25 calls enquiring about AA and its activities," says the member.
AA is a fellowship of alcoholics, including men and women, where members share their experiences, their fight against alcoholism and their strengths. Open to one and all, minus any membership charges, AAs not only aims to discuss their common problems but also help others get rid and recover from alcoholism. There are over 1,500 people associated with AA in Pune. The group will hold an awareness camp at Ganesh Kala Krida Manch on Saturday.
Rahul G (41), an AA member, who quit alcohol around a decade ago, said the TV show has increased the reach of the group. "All of us are professionals, working in different fields. Satyamev Jayate has made us reach places and people where we couldn't personally and physically reach. Behind every alcoholic, there are 20 more sufferers, including the family, relatives and friends. Even if 2-3 new people in each group leave alcohol after joining us, it will be great," says Rahul, who was admitted to various rehabilitation centres at least 10 times before joining AA group.
The 22 groups are operational in areas such as Vitthalwadi, Padmavati, Nana Peth, Shukrawar Peth under different names like Prerna, Sankalp, Disha, Ishakrupa.
The number of members of the only female group in the city Women in Sobriety has remained the same - five members. "It is primarily because of the stigma associated with women taking to alcohol. No one would like to acknowledge that fact that his/her daughter or sister or wife or mother is addicted to alcohol. Three women visited us after the AA was featured on TV but they did not come for the second meeting," said Geeta, an AA member, who heads Women in Sobriety group in Pune and holds meetings every Sunday at Barco Hall, near Shivaji Market.
At the age of 21, Geeta took her first drink and soon, she reached a stage where she was emptying a full bottle of rum or whisky alone, at one go. "This kind of drinking went on for over a year and a half. I used to have blackouts, I would throw up and didn't remember small things like whether I had dinner the previous night or not. That's when I realised that there is something wrong with my pattern of drinking and I attended my first AA meeting in Delhi," recalls Geeta.
Today, despite the small number of women members, she invariably holds the meeting every Sunday.