Alcoholics Anonymous members in Gympie are making pilgrimages to countries where alcoholism is out of control.
Alcoholics Anonymous members in Gympie are making pilgrimages to countries where alcoholism is out of control. David Nielsen

AA women carry message to India

IF a local woman's pilgrimage to India saves one woman's life, then the trip was worth every cent.

A Gympie woman, who cannot be named for privacy reasons, was one of more than 60 Australian women who travelled to the third-world country to do something in an effort to save women from dying from alcoholism.

For the sake of the story, we will call the woman Alexandria.

As a member of a Gympie Alcoholics Anonymous group she was inspired to join a group of women answering an emotional plea from AA in India.

Their role was to "carry the message" about the service and reduce the stigma about alcohol and Indian women.

One of the greatest challenges for Indian AA groups is the social stigma surrounding alcoholism and the concept of female alcoholics.

Alexandria said the common perception among Indian communities was that the women didn't drink alcohol because they weren't entitled.

"That's why they are dying," Alexandria said.

"These women are high functioning professionals. They know their cocktail hour just like you and me.

"There are 30,000 AA members in India and only 13 are women."

Due to the changing social conditions there has been a big increase in the number of female alcoholics in India.

An Indian AA delegate called Shrikanth started the campaign to encourage female alcoholics to seek support from the organisation. Shrikanth called on Australia's female AA members to carry the message to the Indian people that it was okay to be a woman and admit alcoholism.

"If they do home withdrawal they are at risk of dying," Alexandria said, explaining the urgency.

She said at one meeting about 30 Indian women travelled up to 1000km to be at the AA meeting. The trip also attracted three women from Russia, three from the Virgin Islands, two from the United Arab Emirates and a large group from New Zealand.

The trip has also inspired local male AA members to prepare for a trip to Papua New Guinea, where there is a big problem with alcohol.

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