Poor me, don’t pour that drink...

Lakhinder Jit Singh Vohra

AAP MP Bhagwant Mann put alcohol right, left, front and centre in our drawing rooms, chilled with guilt and drowned with apologies with a hangover of repentance. Better late than never. Alcoholism is a progressive disease of the mind, an allergy of the body, and a spiritual malady. 

The first step in overcoming an alcohol addiction is admitting being powerless and that life has become unmanageable. 

I am a recovered alcoholic. My date of sobriety, as it is called in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), is the last time I took a drink — November 24, 2013. I distinctly remember the time and place where I was, when I consciously put the glass down saying enough is enough. My body simply could not take the two or three double Patiala pegs of Double Black Johnnie Walker on the rocks every night. I am sure that if I had not stopped, like many others we hear or know, I would have been dead by now. 

A big part of alcoholism, which we often lose sight of, is the people in your life, who aid and abet — the enablers. It could be a coterie of so-called well-wishers, the freely flowing booze at political fundraisers, weddings, bootleg brands behind closed doors, one-for-the-road Army brats. It could also be family members who turn a blind eye and never acknowledge a drinking problem, or show tough love so the alcoholic gets help. 

Mann, in a brave act, had showed up with his mother and announced that he was giving up. But for many alcoholics, the cause of drinking is deep-rooted in family and early childhood trauma, lack of an emotional connection with parents or siblings, or family pressures that justify an escape to solitude and drinking. 

However, faith in the Almighty; seeking professional help, such as a mental health professional; staying away from booze-filled occasions; clearing out the liquor cabinet… is more tough than half-admitting at a political rally that you are promising to quit, even though you claim you do not have a drinking problem. 

In India, you have to be half-apologetic and give many explanations to near and dear ones why you stopped drinking or how bad the drinking problem had gotten! You are made to feel guilty even for quitting! What most people do not realise is that an alcoholic has to say no to the first drink because like most other normal drinkers, once he takes the first drink, he is powerless to say ‘no’. For him, one is too many and one thousand is never enough. 

Hope Mann was not trying to draw sympathy in the election season. 

Like they say in recovery — poor me, pour me a drink.