Self-esteem-building Group Formed For Female Alcoholics

Neighbors/Pasadena

Two-week-oldwomen For Sobriety Seeking Members

January 17, 1992|By Ingrid Hansen | Ingrid Hansen,Contributing writer

Coordinating an alcoholism support group in Anne Arundel County isn't easy, as Joan Urbus found out.

Especially when no one shows up.

But Urbus, who recently attempted to form a Women For Sobriety group in Pasadena two weeks ago, wasn't surprised.

"It's not unusual," she said. "It takes a big commitment to come."

Not to be confused with Alcoholics Anonymous, which focuses on developing the alcoholic's humility and emphasises a "higher power" concept, WFS support groups help women build self-esteem and find ego strengths.

Jean Kirkpatrick, a woman devoted to helping women cope with alcoholism, founded the group in 1975. WFS has grown from a small group in Quakertown, Pa., to a nationwide organization also extending to parts of Canada.

But Urbus is just hoping for a group of six at her Wednesday meetings.

A former alcoholic, she sought help through a WFS group at Johns Hopkins University when she moved to the area 2 1/2 years ago. With the encouragement of the group's coordinator, Beverly Plunkett, Urbus decided to form her own group.

"It's nice to see somebody who's gotten help and can be there for others," said Plunkett. "She'd very dynamic."

Plunkett says she understands why it's difficult forsuffering alcoholics to attend the meetings.

"People are scared,"she said. "It's kind of like, 'I'm going to walk in there all by myself -- oh my God, what's going to happen?' "

According to Urbus, male and female alcoholics require different types of support to recover. Most women must juggle a career and a family, she said, with no time or desire to tend to their own needs.

"Women don't take care of themselves -- they don't consider themselves top priority," she said. "They're trying to be supermoms, and in today's lifestyle, oftentimes they're doing it by themselves."

One goal of WFS, said Lee AnnKaskutas, a doctoral student at the University of California at Berkeley who is studying the program for her dissertation, is to publicize the organization more, so that women have more options available.

Woman are "almost always referred to Alcoholics Anonymous -- this is an alternative," Kaskutas said. "And I think for some people, it's better."

Urbus hopes potential members will recognize the advantages that a woman's support group offers, and will bide their time for the next few Wednesday nights, experiencing what Plunkett went through a few years ago.

"With any self-help group, you've got a drifting membership," Plunkett said. "I tried not to take it personally. I'dshow up for the meeting and bring a book."

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