What Are AA Chips

What Are AA Chips?

What Are AA Chips, What Are They Used For, and How Do You Get One?

If you or someone you know begins a personal journey of recovery, chances are AA Chips or AA Coins will become an important part of that journey.  In this article we will introduce you to AA Chips, what they are, where did they originate, and most importantly, how you can use them on your path to recovery.  Untold numbers of people, in recovery, go through their daily lives with this small token of sobriety in their pockets. These AA Coins serve was a constant outward reminder of an internal commitment to a life of recovery, abstinence, and spiritual progress. AA Chips are often given as gifts from one person in recovery, or family member of a person in recovery, to someone who has achieved a certain recovery milestone. Those significant moments in a sober person's life begin with their first day, or 24 hours sober, and go on from month to month for their first year!

AA Chips, What Are They?

AA Chips, sometimes call AA Coins, AA Tokens, or AA Medallions, are small, 34mm by 2mm, round pieces of metal or plastic which are distributed to members of 12 Step groups, such as Alcoholics Anonymous or Narcotics anonymous to mark significant periods of continuous sobriety. AA Chips typically begin as aluminum coins, which start at 24 Hours of sobriety. After the 24 AA Chip, they go up in monthly intervals starting with one month, and eventually reaching 1 Year. Yearly anniversary coins are historically brass coins which have been treated with a special antique finish, they are stamped with roman numerals to designate the number of years which the recipient is celebrating. Bronze AA Chips come in 24 Hours, Months 1 - 11, as well as years 1 - 65. 

Most AA Chips have similar features which help to identify them as recovery medallions. The common features of an AA Coin are as follows:
  • AA Circle & Triangle on the front of the AA Coin
  • The 3 Legacies of AA (Unity, Recovery, & Service) 
  • "To Thine Own Self Be True"
  • The Serenity Prayer on the back of the coin

AA Chips, Where Did They Come From?

While there's a lot of information available about the history of the AA program and early AA meetings, there isn't a lot of information about the little traditions that certain groups started to adopt. Because of that, there's not a lot of information about how the tradition of handing out AA coins started. However, AA history buffs have pieced together some information about the history of this tradition. Before groups started hanging out sobriety chips, many individual members of AA chose to carry around tokens of their sobriety as a reminder of how important their sobriety was and the hard work they were doing in their programs. 

Letters between early AA members indicate that this individual tradition was adopted by a group in Indianapolis in 1942. Back then it was common for AA members to travel great distances to attend meetings, so people from all over visited that Indianapolis meeting and took the AA chip system they developed back to their groups. Another theory traces the origin of this tradition to Sister Ignatia at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio. Sister Ignatia frequently worked with Dr. Bob to get people sober through the hospital's program, and when patients left the hospital she would give them a Sacred Heart Medallion as a reminder of their commitment to their sobriety. It's possible that people who got sober by working with Sister Ignatia and Dr. Bob took the tradition of giving coins to represent a commitment to sobriety back to their AA meetings, resulting in the AA chip system.

AA Chips, How Do You Get One?

AA Chips are distributed in 12 Step Meetings such as Alcoholics Anonymous, or Narcotics Anonymous to celebrate different lengths of sobriety or clean time. AA Chips are generally given to members during a  celebration ceremony at the beginning or the end of an AA Meeting. Most AA Meetings maintain a small collection of these recovery coins which they use to give out to individuals who have successfully completed a milestone in their recovery journey. 

24 Hour AA Chips

24 Hour AA Chips, otherwise known as Start over Chips or Surrender Chips mark the beginning of an AA Member's journey of recovery. The AA Chips are often polished aluminum, or sometimes white plastic. These AA Chips feature 24 Hours stamped directly on the front of the AA Coin, along with the words "To Thine Own Self Be True". On the back of the coin is the familiar Serenity Prayer. 

1 Month AA Chips sometimes called 30 day AA Coins, are often red, anodized aluminum. On the front of the 1 Month AA Chip is boldly stamped 1 Month as a reminder of the first 30 days and nights of recovery! The 1 month or 30 day AA Coin shares similar features with most recovery coins including the Serenity Prayer on the back and the phrase "To Thine Own Self Be True" on the top of the coin!

2 Month AA Chips are handed out to members of Alcoholics Anonymous when they reach the 60 day milestone. These AA Coins are often gold in color, made of aluminum, and anodized with the color. They feature the AA Circle & Triangle on the front of the coin as well as the words "To Thine Own Self Be True". 2 Months is prominently stamped in the center of the coin. The Serenity prayer is on the reverse side. 

3 Month or 90 day AA Chips are the next AA Coin that a member of AA receives. These AA Tokens are often green in color and match the familiar style of the preceding coins. The feature 3 months stamped on the front of the coin along with the 3 Legacies, "Unity, Service, Recovery". Along the top of the coin are the words "To Thine Own Self Be True". The Serenity Prayer is on the back. 

The 4 Month AA Chip is the first AA Coin that a person in recovery might have to seek out! The 4 month AA Token is not a standard coin that all groups have. One may have to go to several different meetings to try to find a meeting that carries these coins. They are typically purple in color and carry with them the familiar designs of other Aluminum Monthly AA Coins, with the exception of being a 4 month AA Chip. 

5 Month AA Chips are another AA Coin that you will have to find at an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting that carries them! They come in a beautiful burnt orange color and help to bridge the gap between the standard AA Coin interval of 3 Months to 6 Months of continuous sobriety. These coins feature the AA Circle & Triangle along with the Serenity Prayer on the back side!

6 Months AA Chips are given to members of Alcoholics Anonymous for completing 180 days of sobriety. This coin represents half of a year of sobriety and is one of the most significant milestones in a person's sober journey. One of 3 poker chips you might receive, which sometimes come in White (24 hours), Red (30 days), and Blue (180 days). These are a tremendous accomplishment!

11 Month AA Chips

Bronze Anniversary AA Chips

Yearly Anniversaries, in Alcoholics Anonymous, call for something a little more substantial than your normal aluminum AA Chips. Beginning with the first year of recovery from Alcoholism or Substance Use, members of AA often give one another a Bronze or Brass AA Coin. These Bronze AA Chips are similar in style to the monthly AA Chips which proceeded them, but carry a heavier weight because of the materials. 

Members of Alcoholics Anonymous consider everyday to be a miracle,  however certain anniversaries call for very special AA Coins. For these sobriety birthdays, many people in recovery tend to lean towards fancy AA Chips, often called Triplate AA Coins. These coins are crafted using jewelry grade materials and get their names because they are plated with 3 different materials. The coin begins as a standard brass AA Token and is then plated in gold as well as silver to highlight certain areas of the coin. Lastly a layer of paint or enamel is added to a color, glitter, sparkle, or shine. These coins are often finished in an epoxy dome to protect the lower layers for years to come!