By the beginning of the 1970s, Narcotics Anonymous had established itself as a reputable organization that offered a program of recovery for individuals who were addicted to drugs other than alcohol.
Also, the field of recovery was growing and there were more rehab facilities and addiction treatment centers than ever before. Drug addiction was still stigmatized much more than it is today, but people were reaching out for help more often, rather than suffering in silence.
Jimmy K was suffering from tuberculosis and Bob B became a kind of de facto leader of the organization.
Narcotics Anonymous Organization Continues to Grow
More and more people turned to Narcotics Anonymous for help with their addiction problems, yet the funds were still scarce and the organization struggled to open a central office. Still, the First World Convention of Narcotics Anonymous happened on November 5th, 1971 at La Mirada Country Club.
One of the main purposes of the NA World Convention was to flesh out the NA “Little White Book” with individual stories (much like the Big Book of AA). Also, the decision to create a central office and hire a staff of professional workers was finalized.
The tally of N.A. meetings at the first world convention was 38 total known meetings – only one of which was outside California (in Denver). Most meetings were being held at correctional institutions and rehab treatment facilities. By the middle of the next year (1972), meetings had appeared all over the United States and even one in Brazil (“Toxicomanos Addictos”).
After several more world conventions, NA became more formalized in its structue with Area Service Committees forming and volunteers helping to make things like a 24 hour help line a reality. In additio to the 6th NA World Convention, there was also a Wolrd Service Conference to unite the members of N.A. who contributed to the growth and protected the structure of Narcotics Anonymous. In 1976, the members tallied more than 225 N.A. meetings worldwide.
The N.A. Big Book Comes to Pass
An N.A. member named Bo from Atlanta George took up the project of creating a “Big Book of N.A.” in order for N.A. to have a “basic text.” Over the course of the late seventies, BO gained support from the fellowship of NA and kept campaigning for the creation of the Big Book. Finally, in 1979 the first N.A. Literature Conference was held in Wichita Kansas. By 1983 Narcotics Anonymous would finally have a “Big Book” of it’s own.
Next: NA in the 1980s and 1990s.