Narcotics Anonymous (NA) began in the late 1940s, inspired by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), which, in turn, began in the 1930s. The first meetings were held in the Los Angeles region in the early 1950s. Officially, though, the NA program started in 1953.
Jimmy Kinnon, also known as Jimmy K., born in Scotland on April 5th, 1911, moved with his family to New York in 1923. He worked as a roofer there, struggling with drug addiction until he achieved abstinence from all drugs through the Alcoholics Anonymous program early in 1950. He and others began to hold meetings specifically for drug addicts three years later, with the first meeting on August 17, 1953. Kinnon wrote portions of the Little White booklet, on which the text titled Narcotics Anonymous is based. He also created the NA logo and served as the volunteer office manager of the organization’s World Service Office since it began in 1983. He died in July of 1985, after spending 35 years in recovery as a clean member of NA.
In the 1950s, NA was not yet well understood by society, so it had difficulty finding places to meet, initially going to people’s homes. In some cases, such as New York State, it was against the law for drug addicts to meet for any reason, which, in essence, made NA an illegal organization. The organization nearly went out of existence, holding no meetings for four months in 1959, until Jimmy Kinnon and others restarted NA, with the idea of dedicating themselves to the original principles of the group.
In the 1960s, meetings began again and started to grow. The White Booklet was written in 1962 and formed the basis for NA literature that would come next. Narcotics Anonymous really began to grow, however, in the 1970s, moving from 20 regular weekly meetings in 1970 to 200 meetings in 1976, some which took place in Germany, Australia, Brazil, Colombia, India, Japan, and the UK, among other nations. By the 1980s, there were 1,100 different meetings across the world. By 2007, there were over 25,065 groups holding over 43,900 weekly meetings in a 126 countries, and, today, there are about 50,000 weekly meetings internationally in around 130 countries.
In the 21st Century, Narcotics Anonymous is known as a fellowship or society of men and women for whom drugs are a major problem, and is based on the twelve steps as adapted from AA, and is now the second largest 12 step organization. The requirement for membership is a desire to stop using, and members meet on a regular basis with the intention of helping each other remain abstinent of all mood or mind altering substances, which includes alcohol and marijuana. Membership is free, without any dues or fees.