In Search of NA Part III: Narcotics Anonymous in the Sixties


The sixties were a time of radical social change in America. Along with this climate of change came a cultural curiosity about of drug use and a more tolerant attitude toward drug abuse. The counter cultural movement that was spurred on by the British Invasion and led to the Summer of Love caused many Americans to experiment with drugs like Hallucinogens and marijuana. Many of these curious drug users became addicted to more sinister opiate and methamphetamine based drugs became incarcerated instead of getting the help that NA had to offer. All of these factors actually had a negative effect on the size of the NA fellowship in the early 1960s.

Narcotics Anonymous Gets Back to Basics

After a rocky end to the fifties and tumultuous social developments in the sixties, Jimmy K and the other NA founders felt that Narcotics Anonymous had to return to basics and abide by its traditions or risk dissolving.

Meetings that had died out were re-started and literature was printed (at this time, a collection of writings by Jimmy K and other founders was the main piece of literature for NA members and known as the “Little White Book”). By the late 1960s, the little white book would be expanded to include personal stories of members of NA. Also in the late 1960s an NA newsletter would be printed “The Voice of NA.”

NA Begins to Grow

The NA organization was receiving letters from doctors, addicts, and others affected by drug addiction. Jimmy K mailed out recordings of meetings and corresponded with people in need of NA. Meetings began to spring up in various places around the US (and also in Australia). Correctional facilities also began allowing inmates to facilitate Narcotics Anonymous meetings.

The service body of Narcotics Anonymous was established and formalized by Jimmy K and other members of the governing board. The participants in the early NA governing organization dedicated themselves to spreading the word of the program but also abide by the 12 traditions to ensure longevity.

NA Finishes the Sixties on Solid Ground

By the end of the 1960s there were 16 regular meetings in Southern California and 9 in Northern California. For a decade that had begun tumultuously, NA had survived and formed itself poised to grow even stronger throughout the U.S. and then the world. NA members credit a dedication to the 12-Steps and the traditions as being critical for the organization to have survived this period. Some of the highlights of this period include the creation of:

a formalized piece of literature
a regular newsletter
a public information strategy
a General Service Board of Trustees

Next: NA Goes Worldwide in the 70′s

This entry was posted in Healing Blog, Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Comments are closed.