Bangalore alcoholics say cheers with coffee

June 23rd, 2009 - 11:52 am ICT by IANS  

By Maitreyee Boruah
Bangalore, June 23 (IANS) Members of Alcoholics Anonymous celebrated the 45th anniversary of the Bangalore chapter of the group and together said “cheers” — but without raising their glasses. Instead they toasted over cups of coffee the success of their association in helping thousands get rid of their chronic drinking habit.

“It’s a celebration of successful togetherness of people who have fought together to get themselves rid of alcohol abuse. AA is a group of people who were all once into heavy drinking but now have succeeded in turning sober,” said a senior member of AA on condition of anonymity.

Another senior member told IANS: “AA is a fellowship of men and women who share their experience, strength and hope with one another so that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism.”

Of late, alcoholism has grown into a serious problem in Bangalore. According to a recent report of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS), around 36 percent of Bangaloreans are exposed to alcohol and around four percent of them get into chronic alcoholism.

“Many teenagers in the city are fast developing drinking habits. It’s a serious issue and we want to deal with it. We’re planning to conduct a workshop in educational institutes of Bangalore to help youngsters stay away from alcohol,” said a member, who had been an alcoholic for almost seven years before joining AA about a decade ago.

The only criterion to be a member of the club is the desire to stop drinking. AA members say they don’t keep a count of those who stopped drinking after joining this fellowship.

But the fact is that about 200,000 alcoholics in India have benefited from the association.

“There are no dues or fees for AA membership. We are self-supporting through our own contributions. Our primary purpose is to stay sober and help other alcoholics to achieve sobriety,” said one of those “cured” of his addiction.

The Bangalore chapter has 500 members at present. AA Bangalore also runs a Helpline service and can be contacted at 9902262316/9845587507.

The method adopted by the group to help new entrants shed their “bad habit” is very simple.

“Our method is very common, yet very effective. We believe in the mantra of sharing personal experiences of fellow members. All the members talk and share their stories during our meetings. Most of the discussions are based on stories of alcohol abuse and the way towards rehabilitation,” said a member.

“The method has really clicked well in helping many lead a normal life,” she added.

For the group, alcoholism is a disease and needs to be addressed. They, however, clarify that keeping their members anonymous is not because the group is embarrassed.

“It’s a part of the ‘traditions of Alcoholics Anonymous’ penned by founder Bill Wilson in 1934. Staying anonymous helps us stay humble and not take credit for our recovery. After all, we couldn’t do it ourselves in the first place,” said a member.

AA, founded in 1935, currently has a presence in more than 180 countries and has around two million members. Each of its groups is self-supporting and never accepts any outside contribution and holds no opinion on outside issues.

(Maitreyee Boruah can be contacted at

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