Gaon Connection collaborates with the World Health Organization for a social campaign against alcohol abuse. Video and audio stories along with memes make up Meri Pyaari Zindagi, a series that aims to raise awareness on alcoholism. Bhushan fully understood that alcohol was consuming every facet of his life but helplessness was immense. Read on to know more about how he overcame alcoholism.
“Mera naam Bhushan hai aur main ek sharaabi hun,” is how middle-aged Bhushan introduces himself. (My name is Bhushan and I am an alcoholic).
He had his last sip of alcohol on November 22, 1991. Yet, even 30 years later he identifies himself as an alcoholic. He does so as it helps him in reminding himself of his tendency to get drunk and pose problems not only for himself but also for his loved ones.
“I understood very well that if I continued to live the way I was living, it was game over for me. Even after receiving treatment, consulting the best psychiatrists and psychologists, I thought perhaps I was condemned to drink and die,” said Bhushan.
Bhushan’s story is part of Gaon Connection and World Health Organization Regional Office for South East Asia’s (WHO SEARO) joint social campaign – Meri Pyaari Zindagi – which seeks to raise awareness on alcohol abuse. Audio stories, video stories and memes make up the Meri Pyaari Zindagi series.
“I finally went to a psychiatrist who was famous for convincing many drunkards to quit drinking and asked him how I can quit drinking,” narrated Bhushan.
The psychiatrist told Bhushan that the answer to his question lay in “HOW” — ‘honesty, open-mindedness and willingness’.
Bhushan was born to middle-class Marathi parents and his father had a transferable job. This, as per him, had an impact on his childhood and he could not maintain long-term friendships at school as he relocated to a different city every now and then.
“From classes one to ten, I had changed ten schools. I was a lonely child, I usually kept to myself and didn’t interact much with my classmates as it was hard for me to establish a bond with them. I used to think a lot, I remember. What grew out of me was a shy, introverted person,” Bhushan remembers.
The shyness and the introvert aspect of his personality had a major transformation after a casual attempt at ‘trying’ alcohol at his elder brother’s birthday party.
“My brother asked me if I wanted to try it. I cautiously had some alcohol but enjoyed it a lot. I joked around, laughed, sang, danced and interacted with people like never before. The shy, reserved boy that I used to be seemed to have vanished from my personality. Uss din main party ki jaan ban gaya,” Bhushan remembers (It was as if I embodied the spirit of that party)
“Even my brother and his friends were surprised to see that I was such a lively person. My brother even asked me about my hidden jest for partying, I told him I didn’t know how it happened,” he added.
But the alcohol-induced merry-making didn’t stop at that party.
What followed was a leap of habits for Bhushan who then tried different types of liquor and imbibed his life with alcohol for the next two-three years. “Then, I entered a stage in which I actually fell in love with alcohol,” he recalls.
The results were disastrous. He soon plunged into alcoholism and lost grip over his life.
“I selected advertising as my profession as afternoon drinking is not looked down upon in this field,” he shared.
A particular night when he drank excessively and became a nuisance is a memory that haunts his wife to the present day. “He was promoted at the office and a grand party was organised to celebrate. He drank like anything and lost control over himself. The party was held at Marine Lines and we used to live in Thane. How I made efforts to bring him back to our house is a painful memory. We came back home by local train and I still remember the judgy gaze of people in the compartment,” she said.
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Bhushan’s life as an alcoholic has been etched as a series of traumatic events on his wife’s psyche. “The embarrassment and fear was too much to bear,” Bhawna recalled.
All her equations with friends and relatives began to flounder because of her husband’s drinking habit.
“My parents used to be proud of me when I was young. But after I took up drinking, my father stopped talking to me. My relationship with everybody around me began to destroy. My boss, my subordinates, my brother, all grew weary of me. I somehow went to work because if I didn’t, I wouldn’t get money to buy liquor,” Bhushan said.
Bhushan had accepted his fate and made no attempts to change his life as every counsellor and psychiatrist he approached could not help him much.
But then, his wife took him to a psychiatrist who was known for making thousands of alcoholics quit drinking.
“He advised me to join Alcoholics Anonymous and informed me that it’s an organisation volunteered by former alcoholics who help people like me to quit drinking,” Bhushan said.
“I approached the group and its members asked me to follow what they said and assured me that I will get out of my situation. I had nothing to lose anymore. All my money was spent on drinking and treatment. I could not sustain alcohol in life anymore. I agreed to follow what these Alcoholic Anonymous people told,” he added.
It was then that Bhushan got acquainted with the HALT programme — hunger, anger, loneliness, tiredness.
“I was told not to remain hungry, not to get angry, stay with people and not exhaust myself in work,” he remembered.
“It is because when the stomach is empty, the brain confuses it with the need for alcohol due to addiction. Also, anger motivates a drunkard to drink. Same is the case with loneliness. If a person prone to drinking is alone, nihilist thoughts take over and the person begins to drink. Also, those people asked me not to work too much and get tired as the body is used to demanding alcohol to relax,” shared Bhushan.
Bhushan followed the regime strictly and is now leading a sober life filled with peace and happiness.
“My husband and I are friends again. I feel happy to be with him now. Each day is full of love and we are looking forward to living happily without alcohol,” his wife Bhawna said.
But following the HALT regime wasn’t possible without having a sense of purpose in life and Bhushan realised it.
“I myself became a volunteer for Alcoholics Anonymous and now help alcoholics to quit drinking and lead a happy life,” he said.