Written By: Fiona Stockard

The Basic Text Broken Down – Part One

Narcotics Anonymous is a fellowship of men and women who help each other recover from drug and alcohol addiction. It was founded in July of 1953, just celebrated its sixty-first anniversary, and boasts over 60,000 meetings worldwide.

NA’s central literature is the Basic Text. With a sponsor, the Basic Text, and a workbook, NA members work the twelve steps. Through working these steps, NA members learn that “Just for today, you never have to use again!” (xxiii)

What exactly is the Basic Text? How does reading a book help someone achieve and maintain clean time? The aim of these articles are to answer exactly those questions.

NA Basic Text


The NA Basic Text is now in its sixth edition. Throughout each edition, there have been short prefaces explaining the changes made. Now, in the sixth edition, there are only two prefaces. One is the preface of the most recent edition, while the other is the preface of the very first edition.

Of particular interest is a short section from the preface to the first edition. It states, “As addicts, we know the pain of addiction, but we also know the joy of recovery we have found in the fellowship of Narcotics Anonymous” (xxiii).

This is a central facet of NA, the fellowship. Anytime an addict is struggling with cravings or other issues, they can go to a meeting and instantly be surrounded by family. They’re home in the rooms of Narcotics Anonymous.


This chapter, as the name suggests, is a brief introduction to the program of NA. Founding NA members adopted their program of recovery from Alcoholics Anonymous. However, they make sure to note, “Alcoholism is too limited a term for us; our problem is not a specific substance, it is a disease called addiction” (xxv).

Here, they lay out an important concept, the disease model of addiction. This, much like AA’s disease model of alcoholism, is a three-part model. There’s a mental obsession, a physical allergy, and a spiritual malady. In order to recovery, all three parts of the disease must be addressed.

The way that NA treats the disease of addiction is by getting connected to a Higher Power and carrying a message of hope and healing to new members. This can be seen when, on the next page, they say “Our purpose is to remain clean, just for today, and to carry the message of recovery” (xxvi).

Chapter One – Who Is an Addict?

This chapter outlines who may benefit from the Narcotics Anonymous program.

One of the first things it points out is that “Some of us believe that our disease was present long before the first time we used” (3).

This idea, that drugs weren’t the problem, is central to any recovery programs. In fact, for many addicts, drugs were the solution! The problem rests within the addicts themselves. The problem was our inability to cope with life!

In fact, the chapter goes on to state this very notion. “We tried drug and combinations of drugs to cope with a seemingly hostile world” (4).

Once again, as addicts, drugs offer us a solution to the hardships in life. The problem is our inability to deal with these problems.

The chapter goes on to say, “We had to reach our bottom, before we were willing to stop” (7).

This is another idea central to NA – that addicts can only get better after hitting a bottom. I know this was certainly true for me. I had to lose everything before I thought that maybe I needed help. I had to isolate myself from everyone before I thought I might be the problem.

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