From time to time, we post short interviews with interesting people about their thoughts and feelings on women and drinking. There is such a wide array of perspectives about this topic, and we are excited to gain insight into as many as possible and to share them with you.
Candan Osma Yazar is a recovering alcoholic from Istanbul, Turkey. She has been sober for twenty-nine years. After she began her recovery in Brussels, Belgium, she attented Rutgers University and received a degree in addiction counseling. She moved back to her native country, where alcoholism was widespread but Alcoholics Anonymous was not yet an option. She began work at the Admiral Bristol Hospital in Istanbul as an addiction counselor. This is also when she began her journey to bring Alcoholics Anonymous to Turkey. She wrote the original version of her book, The Journey Home, in Turkish in the hopes of getting her message out to touch a broader group of people. She lives in Istanbul and spends most of her days writing, guiding AA newcomers, and enjoying her grandchildren. The Journey Home can be purchased through major retailers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
Drinking Diaries: How old were you when you had your first drink and what was it?
Candan Yazar Osma: I had my first drink, when I was 16 years old. We skipped school and went to an older friend’s house for lunch. She asked us if we would like to have a drink before lunch. My other three friends and I got very excited and said ” YES” immediately. She gave us vodka with orange juice. At lunch we were so drunk that, I couldn’t find my mouth. Laughing like crazy at all the silly things. I enjoyed it a lot.
How did/does your family treat drinking?
My father was dead when I was 1 year old. My mother was a strict mother, because of handling us alone. We did not have alcohol in the house, but occasionally, some light drinks were served to celebrate special days. Alcoholism was not heard at that time (1960s) so there was no concern about it.
How do you approach alcohol in your every day life?
Because I am a recovering alcoholic, sober for 29 years now, I don’t need to approach alcohol.
If you have kids, how is the subject of drinking handled? Do you drink in front of them? With them?
I had two kids, at a young age when I was drinking. At the last years of my very heavy drinking, I had to hide the bottle from them.
Have you ever had a phase in your life when you drank more or less?
I seriously started drinking after I got married. My husband was a heavy drinker, but did not have a problem. My drinking took 20 years but the beginning was less. When I started to feel the problem I drank more and more. As soon as I started drinking, I could not stop.
Can you tell us about the best time you ever had drinking?
My best time of drinking was, at the times that I could handle the alcohol. I was a shy person, and alcohol took that away. I loved that, because I could talk with people comfortably, dance like a dancer, tell funny stories. People enjoyed me more then, and obviously I liked this.
Has drinking ever affected-either negatively or positively-a relationship of yours?
Drinking affected all my life, days, nights, spirit and all my relations. Especially, I was very much ashamed of my children.
What do you like most about drinking?
I used to love to drink wine with a delicious dinner. I enjoyed drinking couple of whiskies before dinner. Also cognac after dinner. These couple of glasses took me to alcoholism, but at least there are many times that I enjoyed it.
Why do, or don’t you, choose to drink?
I chose not to drink because it affected all my body, life, spirit. I came to a point that I couldn’t live with or without alcohol. I had to quit, or I would die.
How has alcoholism affected your life?
Alcoholism in the beginning was very shameful for me. I had no idea that women could be alcoholics. I did not know that it is a killing disease. When I was 10 yrs sober, I had cancer. Believe me that was easier to overcome that. Because it only affected me, it was my disease. Alcoholism affected all my family, and even friends.
If you could be any drink, what would it be? Why?
If I would be a drink, I would like to be red wine in a beautiful crystal glass. Because that really looks like a very nice painting.