Bhubaneswar: Per capita alcohol consumption in Odisha, which stood at 700 ml in 2001, has risen to five liters today with the state having the maximum number of illicit brew consumers, an eminent psychiatrist said on Wednesday.
“Alcoholism is now known as alcohol use disorder with scientists being of the view that it is possible for people to inherit the desire for alcohol as it can be in their gene,” Dr. Ashis Deshpande, who practices in Mumbai said while addressing a meeting to mark the start of activities of Alcoholics Anonymous in Odisha.
“If your first drink is before the age of 17, the likelihood of social damage increases four times compared to others,” Dr. Deshpande, former President of the Mumbai Psychiatrists’ Association and an active counselor with AA, said.
Internationally known as AA, the organization will be functioning from the premises of Institute of Medical Sciences and SUM Hospital, the faculty of medicine of the SOA (Deemed to be University) here.
Alcoholics Anonymous is an international fellowship of men and women who have a drinking problem. It is non-professional, self-supporting, multiracial, apolitical and available almost everywhere, Mr. Pushan Vaidya, an AA activist and former Trustee of the organization, said adding membership was open to anyone who wanted to do something about his or her drinking problem.
A slogan displayed prominently at the meeting summed it up nicely: “If you want to drink, that’s your business. If you want to stop, we can help.”
Addressing the gathering, mostly comprised of medicine students and interns of SUM Hospital, Dr. Deshpande urged them to look at an alcoholic as a sick person who needed treatment and care.
Introducing himself as an alcoholic who had not tasted a drop of alcohol for the last 27 years, Mr. Vaidya said world statistics showed that between 8 to 12 persons out of 100 people exposed to alcohol proceeded to become alcoholics.
Prof. Gangadhar Sahu, Dean of IMS and SUM Hospital presided over the program which was also addressed by Dr. Rajeev Jarjani, a practicing psychiatrist from Mumbai, Dr. Pushparaj Samantasinhar, Medical Superintendent of SUM Hospital, Dr. Surjeet Sahoo, Head of the Department of Psychiatry at SUM Hospital and Dr. Subhendu Narayan Mishra, Associate Professor in the same department.
Recounting his ‘love affair’ with alcohol, Mr. Vaidya said alcohol took a person into its grasp gradually and as the intensity for alcohol increased, it expanded the individual’s capacity to consume more. “Though I often thought of coming out of its grip, I was led to think that if I left alcohol, my personality will be ruined.”
Mr. Vaidya said that women figured prominently among alcoholics with Alcohol Anonymous’ 30 lakh membership spread across 150 countries comprised 18 lakh women. He said AA advocated a 12-step program for addicts to get out of this situation.
“The first step is to accept the problem as many alcoholics live in the denial mode. You have to begin with surrender believing that there was a power greater than ourselves who could restore us to sanity. We must not fight the problem,” he said adding “it leads to ego-deflation and getting down which will bring a change in personality.”
Dr. Jarjani, who has treated over 50,000 alcoholics in Mumbai, spoke about the menace of alcoholism saying ‘nothing happens in one day.
Mr. Raj, a businessman from Valshad in Gujarat and Ms. Rachel, a housewife from Pune, narrated their personal experience as to how they got out of the alcohol trap through AA after being sucked into its grasp.