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Pooja Bhatt On Alcoholism: Had To Quit Before I Drank Myself To Grave

Pooja Bhatt had been drinking since she was 16, but hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since she pulled the plug on December 24.

Updated:March 3, 2017, 11:37 AM IST
Pooja Bhatt On Alcoholism: Had To Quit Before I Drank Myself To Grave
A file photo.

Pooja Bhatt had been drinking since she was 16, but hasn't touched a drop of alcohol since she pulled the plug on December 24.

Not before she turned 45, did she realise that it’s time for her to pull the plug and snap out of it.

She smoked her first cigarette at 23 and has never done cocaine. But she was drinking at a rather tender age of 16. In an interview with Mumbai Mirror, the actor turned filmmaker opened up about her battle with alcohol addiction.

She calls talking about her battle with the bottle openly in the public space being part of her catharsis.

She wishes to bust the stigma attached to alcoholism in India and encourage women to seek help by debunking the stereotypes associated with alcoholic women and family prestige.

In her case it was a chat with her father that led her to the decision.

On December 21, Mahesh Bhatt messaged her from Delhi and they got talking about the state of the country, about leaders who in their eagerness to imprint their footsteps in the sands of time create absolute mayhem.

He told her, "I love you kid." She responded, "I love you too pops. As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing else worth loving in the world." He replied, "If you love me then love yourself because I live in you."

Without having alluded to her problem, he made a difference by his sheer urge and plea to her to love herself.

Pooja promised him that from that moment she would going to be the best "'me' I'm capable of being".

"Alcohol is comforting, it colours your evening. It's a socially accepted narcotic even at business lunches and in the boardroom. Also, living in a fast-paced city, being in a high-stress profession, it becomes a reason to celebrate and cope with failure. Your film is a hit, you bathe in champagne, it flops, a single malt lessens the pain," she told Mumbai Mirror..

Pooja ended her 10-year long marriage two years ago, and did not give herself time to mourn. She moved on, and the world said cheers to her spirit and energy.

Before she knew it, it was a whirlwind of hedonism.

"So when I drank, I drank copiously. Your appetite increases even as the alcohol does terrible things to your body, clutters your mind and colours your judgement of the people you're hanging out with."

She'd seen what alcohol did to her father, how it had killed her parents' marriage.

She'd been in relationship with an alcoholic.

She'd lost a friend at 40 to alcohol and had a drink to mourn her.

But all this while, it was someone else and not her going through the problem, she was in control.

When her father urged, she looked into the mirror unflinchingly and embraced herself for whatever she had become, Pooja said.

Being the daughter of an alcoholic makes one four times more susceptible to becoming one, she added.

She didn't need to go to Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) as she had strong support systems in her dad and her Cabaret director Kaustav (Narayan Niyogi).

Today, Pooja has no problem being around anyone who drinks, has a fully stocked bar at home and even pours out drinks for friends.

Each day strengthens her resolve as she realises she has more hours to a day now.

She claims to feel lighter with the excess water gone and all the drama alcohol tends to bring is eliminated from her life.

Her biggest victory was waking up to the news of her baby sister Alia Bhatt winning the Filmfare Best Actress Award.

She messaged Alia saying normally this would have been an excuse for her to open a case of champagne first thing in the morning. But this time she celebrated by not drinking.

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