Bengaluru: Sitting at one of the quiet corners of Stracey Memorial High School, a group of about thirty addicts gather late in the evenings to discuss one of the most debilitating issues of all ---alcoholism. What begins as social drinking turns into alcoholism for many, but there are many who want to come out of it.
"I was the General Manager at a company until alcoholism gripped me and I was forced to leave the job," says 46-year-old Gnaneswar, who has not touched any alcohol for the past six years. "I haven't even taken a sip of beer in the last 6 years as I am completely out of it," says Gnaneswar, who is an active member of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bangalore and helps other alcoholics get rid of this problem.
This group is not a rehabilitation centre or an NGO, but just a fellowship of men and women who share their experiences, strength and hope with each other, so that they may solve their common problem and help others recover from alcoholism too. At the age of forty, Gnaneshwar became an alcoholic and was told to leave the house many times.
"For me back then alcohol was a religion and I would even lie to get things done my way. I would do it for money as well. All I cared about was drinking," says Gnaneswar. His addiction cost him his job, his family and his friends. "I still remember the day when I was hospitalized and my father asked me to leave the house as he’d had enough. On the third day, a few people from this group met me and the rest is history!"
But he is not alone in the journey to get rid of this addiction. "There are people who have not touched alcohol for thirty years and they help one another. But the first step is acceptance. “Only if the alcoholic accepts his condition will we include him into the group, where we don't charge anyone a single penny."
There are 72 centres across the city, which conduct sessions from 7 pm to 8 pm and each centre witnesses around 30 to 40 alcoholics. "We have teenagers and senior citizens attending our sessions," says Gnaneswar. Every single alcoholic who has fully recovered tries to reach out to others as well.