Come out, fight addiction, Australia AA team urges women

Speak up...You are not alone.

This is what a women's delegation from Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) group-Australia touring India has been urging women addicted to alcohol in the country, which is one in every three alcoholics according to an AA member coordinating the visitors' programmes in Pune. The team is urging women to shed social stigma and speak about their addiction to get rid of it.

Of the 80-member delegation touring various parts of the country, four is spreading the message in Pune. On Friday, they will also address women enrolled for de-addiction at the Pune Muktangan de-addiction centre.

From January 13, the all-women team has been touring India, urging women alcoholics to come out in the open, speak up and address the problem. They cite their own success in the battle with booze to motivate them. "Unfortunately we have figures that there is a surge in addiction among women. Our centre in the last four years got around 450 patients. The recovery rate is 85 per cent. Such awareness in society is needed. The AA members will speak to women addicts and share their experiences,'' said deputy director of Muktangan centre, Mukta Puntambekar.

The first-of-its-kind all-women AA group tour coincides with the completion of four years of Nishigandh, which is dedicated to women addicts at Muktangan. "These women will share their experiences. We, on our part, will also reach out to schools and colleges focussing on girl students as well,'' said Mukta.

AA member SK Bhalla coordinating the visiting AA team's programmes said, "According to statistics, we have 30,000 known women addicts. We also have figures that one-third of alcohol addicts in the country are women. The AA team on their own took the initiative of touring India and spreading awareness.''

He said the situation in India is almost what Australia had witnessed some 50 years ago in terms of alcohol addiction in women. Social norms and stigma do not allow them to address the problem. He said the delegation is reaching out to Indian women and tell them that they are not alone.

The visitors will also be part of a programme at the Department of Psychiatry and Seth GS Medical College where women will talk about "Road to recovery for female alcoholics" on January 27.

Bollywood actor Aamir Khan will attend. He had addressed alcohol addiction in women in his TV show Satyamev Jayate.

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