Alcohol consumes many women in Indian cities

 The 33-year-old married woman from Chandigarh had never imagined that her excessive clubbing and partying would one day push her to the brink of suicide. But it did.

She was not the only one. In an increasing trend of urban women taking to alcohol to cope with everyday stresses as societal norms ease, a 28-year-old woman working as a senior executive in a property broking firm in Mumbai also developed suicidal tendencies.

What started for both the Bacchus lovers as socialising, ended up in drink dependence and pushed them into the infamous club of over 14 million alcohol consumers in the country who require help. Though there are no exact figures of how many of these are women, the trend is clear.

The Mumbai woman ran up a debt of Rs25 lakh and attempted suicide due to her “unmanageable” life and depression. The Chandigarh woman showed addiction-related suicidal tendencies after a turbulent married life, extramarital affairs and a failed patch-up bid with her husband.

The two are now trying to get a grip over their lives and move away from drink dependence, with some help from de-addiction experts who say they needed to be cared like brain patients who do not know how to prevent themselves from returning to the old habit despite being aware of its perils.

But their difficult phase is over, says NGO Tulasi Home’s consultant doctor Goruv Gupta. “Realising or accepting that one needs help is the toughest part of getting over the drink dependence problem.”

The social checks or restraint that used to prescribe the limit of alcohol consumption in older times have faded over the years, leading to worst forms of drink dependence among both men and women, he said.

According to a 2009 article in journal The Lancet, Indians, officially, are still among the world’s lowest consumers of alcohol — government statistics show only 21 per cent of adult men and around two per cent of women drink. But up to a fifth of this group — about 14 million people — are dependent drinkers requiring “help”.

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