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Help for Alcohol problem

By Editor's Desk, January 1, 2020, Categories: Featured, Slider

Here are two stories from people in our community that reflect on what happened, what it was like, and how they found their way:

I grew up in a normal middle-class family in South India and had a decent childhood. I went to a good school, I had friends, my family was nice to me. I was bullied as a kid in school and I wasn’t able to stand up for myself, but it was never too bad. I was very shy. I never felt like I fit in my friends’ circle and I hardly said a word in groups because I was afraid of sounding stupid. For most of my childhood, I sought the company of older people.

I had my first drink when I was 13 years old. The first time I drank, it was my older brother’s birthday party, and I had over five large pegs of Khodays rum and Thums Up. It was amazing! It helped me speak to other people in the party and I also danced with girls who were much older than me. The way I felt after those drinks, I knew that alcohol was the missing magic I had been waiting for all my life. I never looked back.

I never became a daily drinker, not even 10, 15, 20 or 30 years later. But whenever I did get a chance to drink, I didn’t stop, couldn’t stop, didn’t WANT to stop. In fact, I became well known as the guy who could drink a lot and still keep standing. I was extremely proud of this. I was going to make sure I never stopped drinking. I moved to Hong Kong when I was 23 years old. I had arrived!

I got married at the age of 29. Until then, nobody told me I drank too much. I also didn’t think I drank too much. I believed that as long as I didn’t throw up, didn’t pass out, didn’t fall down or lose my job, I could not be an alcoholic. When I got married, I had been using alcohol for many years to hide or run away from my insecurities and fears. I was living a lie. My relationship continued on the same path – my wife didn’t drink much but always told me I did. I refused to admit that I was an alcoholic because I had a good job, money in the bank, a nice car and my own home. I also drank only on weekends and very little on weekdays. This was not what an alcoholic looked like.

My niece got married some years ago. She is my favourite person in the whole world. Before her wedding she came to me and asked me if I could control myself at her wedding. I was extremely upset that she could think that way but I promised I would control myself. Sadly, her wedding day was a disaster; I was in a blackout less than half way through and had to be taken away. I felt shame and guilt like I had never felt before. I had let down this one person whom I cared about the most. That’s when it occurred to me that alcohol controlled me. I knew I had to find a way of quitting drinking. That’s when I came to AA.

On the suggestion of the people I met during my first AA meeting, I came to many meetings in my first few months. Listening to everyone sharing their stories, many of them sounded just like my story. I was soon convinced I am an alcoholic. Thanks to AA and the wonderful people in the fellowship, I have been living sober for almost 5 years.

I am a woman who grew up in a progressive family in Delhi, whose parents are extremely open and liberal. I didn’t see any alcohol abuse while growing up. My parents drink alcohol normally and felt I should drink with them.. But when I turned 18, I just wanted to drink with my friends – I wanted to be “cool” and prove that I could drink. Since it’s looked down upon in my culture for women to drink or get wasted, I wanted to show that it doesn’t have to be that way – that women could hold their drinks very well and have as good a time as any man. I wanted to be seen as this ‘killer girl’ out breaking cultural norms!

I used to absolutely love my alcohol. Yet, when I drank, I had no stop button and never knew how – or wanted to – control it. From very early I used to blackout – i.e. ZERO memory of what I did for 6-7 hours straight. Sometimes it was funny, sometimes embarrassing, but I always felt ashamed and paranoid about what I had done or said. I knew that this behaviour wasn’t me or who I wanted to be – yet I was caught in a vicious cycle – drinking to get wasted, blacking out, then doing something stupid. But when the time came to drink again, I completely forget about how bad I felt the previous time. I liked to believe that I had control, but as soon as I drank, the alcohol took over. So many times, I wondered how I did not get into an accident or end up at the hospital.  

It took me 10 years of drinking like this to accept that I have the disease of alcoholism. In AA, I learned  that I react differently to alcohol and even if I am not drinking, I am thinking about my next drink. In recovery, I could let go of my obsession with alcohol – I had spent two years counting and writing down the exact number of drinks I had each time, to somehow control my blackouts. Would a normal, sane person do that?

I assume that my parents never knew how bad my condition was – the blackouts and all of the things that happened. But they once saw me drunk when visiting Hong Kong and were scared – they didn’t say anything directly but were worried what I was up to.

They don’t know I am in recovery but they know I have stopped drinking. In the beginning they didn’t understand why and thought it was a phase. But now they have accepted it and are happy for me because it means they have to worry less. I don’t think I can tell them I am in a program; it’s just too taboo in our culture. Funny thing I did discover was that my family has many alcoholics – but no one wants to talk about it!

In my experience, it is brave to accept vulnerability. Only then was I truly able start to rebuilding myself. Instead of avoiding my feelings and shortcomings, I was able to accept them and learn how to deal with the feelings, with myself, and with life in general.

Alcoholics Anonymous Hong Kong celebrates 50 years of helping those who have a problem with alcohol.   For more information visit our website at:  www.aa-hg.org or call our 24 hour hotline at: +852 9073 6922.

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