Saturday, August 3, 2013

Happiness House

Alcoholism, prevalent and a problem in most societies of the world, is also rampant here in Korea with over a million and half alcoholics and, in recent years, an increasing number of women alcoholics, according to a recent article in the Kyeongyang Magazine. It raises the question: Is Korea a country where alcohol consumption is encouraged? 

Though alcoholism is a chronic and disabling disease, there are therapies that have been successful in treating the problem. In Korea, of those who have tried to overcome the drinking habit with a hospital stay, more than 80 percent return to drinking within six months. And only 12.4 percent are able to stay away from alcohol for more than two years. 13 small groups are currently devoted to helping alcoholics, two of them specifically for women. The article introduces us to one of these groups, which is registered with the Seoul city government and affiliated with the Catholic Women's Welfare Association of the Seoul diocese.

Regina Lee, along with members of the Alcoholics Anonymous group they belonged to, decided to start a home for women, and were fortunate to receive help from many sources. With women, Regina says, the progress of the disease is quicker and more difficult to see; the harm done, the stress involved, and the prejudice against women is greater, which makes efforts to help more difficult. Before the alcoholism can be treated, says Regina, there is the environment, the pain, and the sad history that has to be considered and resolved.

At Happiness House, the name they have given their home, they are all dealing with the same problem: the worry, the grievances and the pain; each of them trying to help each other to return to society. Over 90 persons have passed through the house, with some meeting once a a month to share stories  about their new life. This is a great help to the group, she says. The aim of Happiness House is to encourage those who have overcome their problem to help others do the same, as one such person did by becoming a social worker.

The House now has a project to help those leaving the House to find gainful employment. They are selling quilts and environmentally friendly soap to finance the project.  They know that those who have left the House after successfully overcoming the drinking habit must have the support of their families if they are to continue a life of sobriety. Alcoholism can't be overcome by oneself. There is a need to hear words of affection and concern to replace the emptiness and suffering they feel, and from which they want to be free.

Regina concludes the article with an invitation  to those who have tried many ways to overcome their dependence on alcohol and failed. She invites them to come and knock on the door of Happiness House.

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