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Help Thyself

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This is the good news about Santa Cruz, the self-actualizing, inner child-nurturing, spirit-healing, touchy-feely capital of the Western Hemisphere: Support groups abound here. Problems with alcohol? Drugs? Overeating? Unresolved childhood stuff? Grieving over a deceased pet? You're in luck--do we have a group for you. Probably several groups. Self-help groups get a lot of grief--no pun intended--these days. Reduced to a Stuart Smalley schtick of self-absorbed losers by comedians and the Wendy Kaminers of the world, self-help groups still offer the cheapest, most egalitarian path to finding mental, physical and spiritual wholeness in a fractured world. Black or white, Catholic or atheist, gay or straight--everyone's equal under the burden of addiction or suffering. That said, Santa Cruz has some extraordinarily good 12-step meetings around town.
--July St. James


Alcoholics Anonymous--The granddaddy of all support groups. In the half-century since its inception, AA has evolved from ancient drunks in smoke-filled rooms to young drunks 12-year-olds aren't unheard of--gathering in a rather happening little social scene. Actually, make that a big social scene. With a couple of hundred meetings a week held throughout the county, it ain't too hard to find a few kindred souls gathered to share tips on beating the bottle.
Fave Pick: Saturday night Birthday/Speaker meeting. Second Saturday of the month, 8pm, Santa Cruz High School Auditorium, 415 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. The place to pick up sobriety birthday "chips" and hear how boozers just like you manage to go decades without a drink. 831/475-5782

Overeaters Anonymous--Overweight, underweight or passing for normal (but achieved through vomiting eight times a day). If the common thread here is an obsession with food, calories and dieting, try OA, which suggests a sensible approach to regaining your sanity and a healthy relationship with eating. Like all 12-step programs, it's free, and if it doesn't work, they'll refund your misery.
Fave Pick: Saturday morning 9am, Calvary Episcopal Church, 532 Center St., Santa Cruz. 831/429-7906

Narcotics Anonymous--Dope fiends love their drama. Take away the crank or smack or coke, they still got to get that adrenaline rush, and NA meetings provide the theater. Leather meets lipstick and the roar of Harleys provide the soundtrack for the steamy romances that unfold and fold on a regular basis. It's the best of all worlds sex, God and mystery and it's all on the natch.
Fave Pick: Tuesdays, 8pm, Louden Nelson Center, 301 Center St., Santa Cruz. 831/662-4664

Cocaine Anonymous--There is probably some perfectly good reason why cocaine addicts didn't want to mingle with other addicts at NA and decided to start their own little 12-Step group, but that's neither here nor there. The CA meetings are growing along with crack's popularity and offers a safe haven for kids (and sadly, they're usually kids) trying to put down the pipe.
Fave Pick: Friday night, 8pm, Janus of Santa Cruz, 200 Seventh Ave., Santa Cruz. 831/458-5213

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From the September 24-30, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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