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Sobriety Milestones (AA Chips)

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What are AA Chips?

AA chips, or "sobriety tokens," are small, round-shaped tokens given to members of a 12-step program.

This includes Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and other types of sobriety groups. Those giving them out can purchase them at a token shop or online.

AA Chips

Sobriety tokens are often used to mark the impressive achievements of people who are in sobriety and recovery. Receiving a sobriety token is usually gratifying to the person in recovery. These AA tokens help keep a person motivated during their recovery.

These recovery chips often remind the person of the struggles they have overcome and the success they have achieved. While these tokens usually have the same overall meaning, they may have special significance to you if you are the one receiving them.

If you or a loved one is trying to get sober or are in recovery, understanding these recovery gifts can help you get through this challenging time in your life.

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What is Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)?

Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) is an international fellowship consisting of people who have had a drinking problem.

AA is open to anyone who wants to quit drinking, and members are encouraged to attend AA meetings. Open meetings are welcome to members of the public. However, closed meetings are for AA members only.

Only those with a drinking problem can become AA members or attend closed meetings.

People with issues other than alcoholism can join Alcoholics Anonymous only if they also have a drinking problem. The only eligibility for membership is a desire to quit drinking.

Al-Anon is a similar group, except it is for the family members and friends of those struggling with an alcohol problem.

Benefits of Alcoholics Anonymous

There are plenty of benefits for people involved in mutual support groups like AA. People are more likely to remain abstinent than those who attempt to quit drinking alone.

Other benefits of AA include:

  • Free meetings
  • No obligation to join
  • Available in any location
  • No intrusive questions or obligations
  • Anonymity
  • Open to everyone regardless of race, religion, or beliefs
  • Creating a network of support
  • No age or education requirement

Additionally, people who seek professional treatment or counseling for their drinking problems sometimes experience better results if they include participation in AA meetings along with their treatment program.

AA and other manualized 12-step recovery programs can result in higher rates of continuous abstinence over months and years compared to other treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).

How Does AA Work?

People who have never attended an AA meeting may have misconceptions about their work due to portrayals in the movies or on television.

During AA meetings, members share their experiences with others seeking help with a drinking problem.

Open AA meetings, which anyone can participate in, are usually ‘speaker meetings.’ Speaker meetings involve a member of AA telling their story of their battle with drinking. 

Most AA meetings are closed for members only. A typical Alcoholics Anonymous meeting is a topic discussion meeting. The person leading the meeting selects a topic, and members take turns sharing their experiences.

Some AA groups are held for a specific purpose like the 12-step study groups or beginners’ meetings hosted to teach newcomers about the basics of the program.

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How Does the AA Chips System Work?

AA chips are used to celebrate successful recovery milestones.

Their use differs from group to group, but many fellowships provide chip or medallion nights to celebrate those receiving a token. Other fellowship groups hand them out during AA meetings. 

Many AA groups also offer new members a 24-hour chip. The 24-hour chip represents the initial decision to live a sober life. 

Although each group works differently, sobriety plastic chips are usually given to members at various points during their first year of recovery.

Collecting the chips are meant to make AA members feel supported, motivated, and loved. It is also a reminder that you are not fighting alcoholism alone.

It is important to remember that as all AA groups are autonomous, honoring sobriety milestones differ depending on the local group.

Types of AA Coins, Chips, Tokens, & Medallions

Alcoholics Anonymous medallions and coins are small, round tokens. They're available in a selection of different colors and materials, which each represent various milestones in sobriety.

The materials include aluminum and brass, sometimes with gold or silver plating. Some tokens may even feature crystals.

Here are some types of AA coins:

  • Bronze AA coins
  • Bronze medallions
  • Aluminum AA coins
  • BSP medallion

What Do AA Chip Colors Mean?

Sobriety coins are handed out to mark a milestone for a person working toward recovery and sobriety.

A member could also expect to receive recovery medallions and coins when they enter an alcohol treatment program.

Here is what the AA chip colors mean:

  • White – 24 hours
  • Red – one month 
  • Gold – two months 
  • Emerald green – three months 
  • Gold – four months 
  • Red – five months 
  • Blue – six months

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How to Get AA Chips

People in recovery can receive sobriety chips in a few different ways. Many people get AA chips at recovery meetings or after a treatment program.

If you're a member of an AA group that does not hand out sobriety chips but would like to be part of the tradition, it's possible to switch to a different group that uses them.

If you receive an AA coin, you aren't required to do anything specific with it. Its primary purpose is to remind you of your daily decision to maintain sobriety.

Many people keep their AA coins in an easily accessible location, such as a pocket or purse. Others may place them in a special keepsake box.

However, you can do whatever you like with an AA chip after you receive it.

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Updated on October 31, 2022
7 sources cited
  1. "What Is A.A.?" Alcoholics Anonymous.
  2. Kelly, J., et al. “Alcoholics Anonymous and other 12-step programs for alcohol use disorder.” The Cochrane database of systematic reviews, 2020.
  3. Mendola, A., and Richard G., “Addiction, 12-Step Programs, and Evidentiary Standards for Ethically and Clinically Sound Treatment Recommendations: What Should Clinicians Do?.” AMA Journal of Ethics, 2016.
  4. Gross, M. “Alcoholics Anonymous: still sober after 75 years. 1935.” American Journal of Public Health, 2010.
  5. Kaskutas, Lee Ann. “Alcoholics anonymous effectiveness: faith meets science.” Journal of Addictive Diseases, 2009.
  6. Pagano, M., et al. “Helping other alcoholics in alcoholics anonymous and drinking outcomes: findings from project MATCH.” Journal of studies on alcohol, 2004.
  7. Wnuk, M. “The Beneficial Role of Involvement in Alcoholics Anonymous for Existential and Subjective Well-Being of Alcohol-Dependent Individuals? The Model Verification.” International journal of environmental research and public health, 2022.

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