Bollywood Actress and Filmmaker Pooja Bhatt opens up on her battle with the bottle and how she reclaimed herself.
Pooja, who began drinking at the age of 16 says that she became so addicted to the bottle that at the age of 45 she realized that she had to quit now before she drank herself to the grave.
As per news sources today is the 68th day and Pooja hasn’t touched a drop of alcohol since she quit on December 24. From Christmas, New Years, to her 45th birthday (on February 24), she hasn’t touched the bottle.
“I want to bust the stigma attached to alcoholism in our country. Women particularly are discouraged from seeking help because it’s a matter of shame for the family. We don’t share our pain or frailties, we cover our weaknesses and it becomes a cancer,” says Pooja, admitting that in her case it was a chat with her father that led to this decision.
Strong support systems in her dad and her Cabaret director Kaustav (Narayan Niyogi) that Pooja found, she did not have to rely on Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). It was one statement from her father that made her realize her mistake – “If you love me then love yourself because I live in you.” This was reportedly the line that helped Pooja to step out and step in to a healthy living.
Reportedly, Pooja had seen what alcohol did to her father, how it had killed her parents’ marriage. She’d been in relationship with an alcoholic and got her into the news. She’d lost a friend at 40 to alcohol and had a drink to mourn her.
“I was 45 and if I wanted to give myself 10 years of living, I had to quit now before I drank myself to the grave. I had to reclaim the sharper, brighter me which had got watered down,” says Pooja.
Today, Pooja herself has no problem being around anyone who drinks. She has a fully stocked bar at home and even pours out drinks for friends. “If I can’t be around alcohol and resist it, it means I’m not in control. Each day strengthens my resolve as I realise I have more hours to a day now. Even when I drank till 4 am, I’d be at work at 10 am but I was burning myself out. Today, I feel lighter with the excess water gone. All the drama alcohol brings is eliminated from your life,” she says.
Her biggest victory was waking up to the news of her baby sister Alia Bhatt winning the Filmfare Best Actress Award. “I messaged Alia saying normally this would have been an excuse for me to crack open a case of champagne first thing in the morning. But this time I celebrated by not drinking,” Pooja signs off.