Book Review (or Announcement): Narcotics Anonymous

Title: Narcotics Anonymous

Author: Narcotics Anonymous members

Date: 2008 (6th edition)

Publisher: Narcotics Anonymous

ISBN: 9781557767349

Length: 396 pages plus 29-page index

Quote: “As our members stay clean ten, twenty, thirty years and more, our fellowship has more and more experience dealing with challenges beyond ‘not picking up the first drug.'”

Fair disclosure: I’m not the ideal person to review this book. I don’t even know any NA members well. I know some people for whom Alcoholics Anonymous has worked miracles, and a few for whom local AA groups have come to seem like abusive cults, so I’m guessing that Narcotics Anonymous can work either way too. I myself chose abstinence at an early age, and have always been glad I did.

For those for whom it’s too late to choose abstinence…well, this is a book full of short, rather bland because anonymous, testimonies from people for whom the NA way works. There are a lot of them. There have been five previous editions of this book, and each edition has been thicker than the one before as more recovering addicts have supplied stories of how their program has kept them clean through different life passages and challenges. So there’s a good chance that NA could help anybody out there who is ready to recover from all use of drugs.

Even antibiotics, some might ask? Maybe not antibiotics, but definitely all “mind-altering, mood-changing chemicals.” The NA way is for people who are ready to live without legal “substitute drugs” like Antabuse or psychopharmaceuticals like Prozac, too. “All of us, from the junkie snatching purses to the sweet little old lady hitting two or three doctors for legal prescriptions, have one thing in common: we seek our destruction a bag at a time…until we die…In this program, the first thing we do is stop using drugs.”

Lack of emotional support from loved ones is not a valid reason to use drugs, but when twelve-step programs work, emotional support from the group is what gets people through what may be a long withdrawal/recovery period (depending on how much damage they’ve done to themselves). When it works, recovering addicts transfer their emotional addiction to the group and form lifelong bonds with their friends in the group. When it works, they avoid the financial and social costs of dependency on legal drugs, and are often able to go back to work and lead normal healthy drug-free lives.

If you are, or know, an addict who would like to have a relatively high “bottom” and get into recovery while still able to hold a job, this book is for you. It’s our Sunday book because many twelve-step programs are sponsored by churches–although NA has no specific religious affiliation and welcomes non-Christians who want to work this program, too.

Since this book has no individual author, it’s not a Fair Trade Book, and the price to buy it here ($5 per copy + $5 per package) actually seems pretty competitive according to Amazon. (The copy I physically own, which is locally available for a much lower cost, was heavily used by at least two addicts before it reached me, and contains many handwritten marginal notes. People who go to NA meetings are likely to acquire copies of this book in similar condition, free of charge.) Two copies could be shipped in one package for a total cost of $15.

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