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Wednesday, December 26, 2007

A normie wandered in unawares: Coffee, karaoke, and group therapy

Harold Jonas, 52, kicked a heroin habit two decades ago in the beachfront city of Delray Beach, Florida, far from his native Philadelphia, and decided to stay. He married a fellow addict, raised a family, earned a doctorate and opened a halfway house for substance abusers making the transition from residential care to independent living.

Steadily, he and his wife, Dawn, expanded their cottage industry. They organized an association of halfway house owners and opened KoffeeOkee, the coffeehouse-karaoke bar.

About 20 residents of Delray Beach recently gathered at the café one night for a weekly counseling session. One "normie" – their word for the 65,000 year-round townspeople – wandered in unawares and was allowed to stay. First-timers sat at the periphery of the circle, avoiding eye contact with others.

Advice to people struggling with drug habits: You can have fun and friends without harmful drugs.

Browse for related stories in the index at the very bottom of this page, or read one of our Delray Beach stories.

Thanks to Jane Gross for the source article in the Nov. 16 issue of the New York Times.

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