AA Coins: What They Are and How They Help in the Recovery Journey

AA Coins: What Are They And How Do They Help In The Journey Toward Recovery

What are AA coins? How are they special in the journey toward sobriety, and what do they stand for? Click here to learn all about them.

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has a solid 80 years of history. Starting with Bill W. back in 1934 and continuing to this day. This fellowship of alcoholics helping other alcoholics gives us the 12-step model of recovery as we know it today.

Today's AA groups don't look the same as the groups Bill W. in the beginning. AA grew and changed over the years. Lessons learned and successes celebrated allowed this recovery organization to evolve.

One of the ways that AA members empower each other to succeed is through the gift of AA coins. These little tokens hold big significance in the fight for sobriety.

In this article, we'll take a closer look at what AA coins are and how they help with recovery.

What Are AA Coins?

AA coins are tokens given to those in alcohol or drug recovery. The coins look like poker chips and mark how long a member's been sober.

The tokens give AA members a physical reminder to take sobriety one day at a time. Many people in recovery carry their coin in their pocket or purse so they can reach it easily.

A Brief History of the Token

It's said that the first tokens came from a non-alcoholic friend of AA, Sister Mary Ignatia. Sister Ignatia worked at St. Thomas Hospital of Akron, OH in the mid-1950's. This is where she met Dr. Bob, one of the original co-founders of AA.

It was here that she started working with alcoholics alongside Dr. Bob. After someone left her care, she gave them a Sacred Heart badge to mark their success in staying sober.

The story says that Sister Ignatia asked her patients to give the coin back if they ever took another drink. This is widely accepted as the first instance where AA members used coins or tokens to mark sobriety.

Now, many AA groups and other 12-step programs use this as a way of celebrating successful sobriety milestones.

Chips are not part of the AA program as laid out by the book, Alcoholics Anonymous (also known as the "big book"). And their use differs from group to group. In a way, this form of celebration is how each group expresses its individuality.

The ways that groups present tokens differ. Many groups offer chip nights or medallion nights to honor those receiving a token. Other groups give them during meetings.

The Significance of the Coin Design

AA chips come in a variety of colors to signify different points in sobriety. They're also made from a variety of materials.

Most groups use colored chips to signify milestones during the first year of sobriety. Here's a list of the colors used during the first year of sobriety.

  • Silver - 24-hour chip, the first chip awarded after one day of sobriety
  • Red - 1 month
  • Gold - 2 months
  • Green - 3 months
  • Blue - 6 months
  • Purple - 9 months

These colorful chips are made of aluminum. They have a triangle on one side of the chip that says Unity, Service, and Recovery on the three sides. These are the three AA legacies.

Inside the triangle is a small circle with a number signifying the number of months sober. Then outside the triangle are the words "To Thine Own Self Be True". This slogan is one of many used by AA members to remind them to be true to themselves during the process of getting sober.

On the back of every coin is a copy of the Serenity Prayer. This is a prayer that AAs have said since 1941 and is repeated at every meeting. It reminds members to trust that their higher power guides them through life.

The 1-year coin is made from bronze and has the same design elements as the aluminum coins. But the year marks are Roman numerals instead of numbers like the months.

Standard coins are bronze going forward. But you can also get specialized coins made from a number of different materials. They make great gifts for sober friends and family members.

The Inspirational Importance of Coins

When a new member first enters an AA room, they are often tired, scared, and sitting on rock bottom. That's where the beauty of the program takes over. AA members know what it's like to be in that same place.

Many AA groups award a 24-hour medallion to new members. These silver, aluminum coins contain the basic elements of recovery.

They show the new member the three AA legacies. They remind them to be true to themselves. And they are a copy of the Serenity Prayer to let them know they have the power to change their path.

Plus, the 24-hour coin reminds every member, old or new, that sobriety is a one-day-at-a-time thing. It offers a physical piece of the meeting that you can carry anywhere.

As a member starts to grow in their sobriety, the coins add up. And with each coin, a member takes pride in themselves knowing that they achieved something meaningful.

The inspirational importance of the coins is in how collecting them feels. Receiving a new coin from a fellow AA member makes you feel loved and supported. And it reminds all members that they are not in the fight alone.

The Road to Recovery Goes Through AA

12-step programs like AA are the backbone of addiction recovery. They are a proven method of promoting sobriety. And they've got the historical background to prove that they work.

AA coins were not always part of the AA tradition. But they've become a powerful tool to stay sober. Starting with Sister Ignatia and carrying through to today's AA meetings.

The power of the AA coin is in the inspiration and hope it brings to members. They feel a sense of pride in holding the coins in their hands. And that pride is priceless when it comes to staying sober.

Coins make a great gift for a sober friend. We've got a ton of other sober gift ideas on our gifts page. Click here to check out the selection.