The exact origin of this word meaning an overwhelming yen or craving is unknown. It obviously refers to the name Jones, but exactly how it developed is uncertain. The 1962 edition of Maurer and Vogel’s Narcotics and Narcotic Addiction glosses it as:
Jones. A drug habit.
Claude Brown’s 1965 Manchild In the Promised Land uses it to mean the symptoms of heroin withdrawal:
My jones is on me...something terrible. I feel so sick.
By 1970, it had generalized into any desire or yearning. From Clarence Major’s Dictionary of Afro-American Slang from that year:
Jones: a fixation;...compulsive attachment.
(Source: Historical Dictionary of American Slang)
Copyright 1997-2016, by David Wilton