The Meaning Behind AA Chips And Medallions

Posted by John Gall on

What's the meaning behind AA Medallions?  Well first there is actually no such thing as an AA medallion.  AA has never lent its name to be printed on a sobriety medallion or chip.  Many people call the anniversary style coin that marks months or years of sobriety AA medallions as they are traditionally given out in meetings.  However there is no official medallion and chips are not actually a part of the program of Alcoholics Anonymous.  Sobriety coins are more a part of AA Culture as many groups and members give coins to each other to celebrate milestones of sobriety.  Checking with AA.Org they relay that the tradition called the "Chip System" probably started in Indianapolis in 1942.  

"In Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, it indicates that Sister Ignatia in Akron, working at St. Thomas Hospital, also used medallions: “Sister Ignatia gave each of her newly released patients a Sacred Heart medallion, which she asked them to return before they took the first drink. She would occasionally give out St. Christopher medals as well…” (page 195)."

In a nutshell traditional AA medallions simply celebrate time without taking a drink.  You can find 24 Hours and Months 1-11 as well as years 1-65 in the traditional Anniversary style with the Three Legacies Triangle on the front and Serenity Prayer on the back.  

Now days there are many options such as "Founders" or Bill & Bob medallions that feature Bill W and Doctor Bob on the front.  There are now gold and silver plated and medallions in colors.

The takeaway from this is to note that the meaning of AA medallions is simply a celebration of time that has taken hold in AA culture but is not officially a part of the AA program or 12 steps.

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