James Patrick Kinnon (5 April 1911 - 9 July 1985, commonly known as Jimmy Kinnon or "Jimmy K.") was the Co/founder of Narcotics Anonymous (NA), an international association of recovering addicts. During his lifetime, he was usually referred to as "Jimmy K." due to NA's principle of personal anonymity on the public level. He never referred to himself as the founder of NA, although the record clearly shows that he played a founding role.
When Kinnon was seven years old he befriended a local alcoholic who he referred to as Mr. Crookshank. He would often find him drunk and beaten. One day Kinnon found him badly beaten up and unresponsive. Kinnon ran for help. Over the following weeks Kinnon did not see Crookshank and after numerous inquiries his mother took him to see his friend. They went to an institution that Crookshank was now a resident of. He was wheelchair bound and incoherent. Upon leaving the facility Kinnon told his mother that when he grew up he was going to help people like Mr. Crookshank.
Kinnon was born in Paisley, Scotland on April 5, 1911. He and his parents moved to the United States in the 1920s. For medical reasons he was separated from his parents on Ellis Island. He stayed with a German family while he was waiting for his parents to be cleared. When he was reunited with his family he moved to New York and then to Philadelphia. He never saw the German family again. While in Philadelphia Kinnon went to private school and had plans of entering the priesthood. He began using drugs and alcohol and started getting into trouble. He never followed through with his goal of becoming a priest.
Battle With Addiction
While in his thirties, Kinnon move to Sun Valley, California. He got married and had five children. He worked as a roofer and a painter. He tried to function as an active addict but despite his profession his roof often leaked. After a number of arrests Kinnon made a decision to stop using drugs and alcohol. He suffered withdrawals that caused him to hallucinate and he spent some time screaming in his bedroom.
Kinnon Stopped using drugs and alcohol on February 2, 1950. He began attending Alcoholics Anonymous, a twelve-step program. While in Alcoholics Anonymous he met other members who had struggled with addiction to substances other than alcohol. Alcoholics Anonymous often discouraged members from talking about addictions other than alcohol. Kinnon attended meetings of another group called Habit forming Drugs but was disappointed with them.
Formation of Narcotics Anonymous
Kinnon and other members of Narcotics Anonymous began holding their own meetings. After some communication with Danny Carlson from New York, who was also trying to set up a program for drug addicts, Kinnon and several others were given permission from Alcoholics Anonymous to adopt the twelve steps. Narcotics Anonymous was founded in 1953.
Most of Narcotics Anonymous early literature was written by James Kinnon. He was the main contributor to the Yellow Booklet, Little White booklet, and Little White Book that were used throughout the 1960s and 1970s. In 1981 hundreds of Narcotics Anonymous members expanded on this literature and created the Basic Text.
James Kinnon died on July 9, 1985 in California. Prior to his death he told his daughter that he wanted his gravestone to say, "All we did was sow some seeds and worked and wrought to make this work, so that we and others could live. In Peace, in Freedom and in Love. He was clean for thirty five years at the time of his death.
- Narcotics Anonymous History (Real Audio and Windows Media formats)
- Jimmy Kinnon on na12.org
- Official Narcotics Anonymous website
- Miracles Happen: The Birth of Narcotics Anonymous in Words and Pictures, Revised version, ISBN 1-55776-341-0
- My Years With Narcotics Anonymous. A History of N.A. by Bob Stone. 1997, Hulon Pendleton Publishing, L.L.C., Joplin, MO, U.S.A., ISBN 0-9654591-0-1
- NA Audio Archive Sampler. 2002, Narcotics Anonymous World Services, Inc. ISBN 1-55776-469-4