What’s Up with AA Milestone Tokens?
Although the chip system is not officially a component of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) in any way, it is still used everywhere in the country, and all over the world for that matter, to celebrate specific milestones in recovery. The AA milestone tokens come in several varieties signifying and confirming the periods of sobriety. Normally as big as a poker chip, these special medallions are oftentimes handed out by the home group, spiritual guides, close friends or family members of those in recovery. It is meant to commemorate the achievement and to inspire the receiver to persevere on his or her commitment to personal recovery.
The chip system’s exact origin is almost impossible to determine but it is usually posited that it begun in Indianapolis in 1942. It comes from the story of the start of Alcoholics Anonymous in Indianapolis in the early 1940’s by Doherty S. He wrote a letter to Alcoholics Anonymous co-founder Bill W. about giving out “tokens” and “chips.”
The AA milestone token becomes the symbol of membership of so many anonymous people around the world. It may be inconsequential to the general populace but the keepsake is very important to the receiver. The road to recovery with the help of the fellowship of anonymous peers can be marked with a silver colored aluminum 24 Hour Token that stands for a whole day of sobriety. This twenty-four hour token can be kept by the beneficiary for a lifetime to serve as silent reminder of his or her AA way of life.
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Coming after the 24 Hour Token is a tier of anodized aluminum tokens representing monthly milestones in recovery. One month of sobriety is commemorated with a red anodized aluminum chip. For two months of abstinence, a gold anodized aluminum medallion is given. Staying sober for three months is commemorated with an emerald green anodized coin. Six months of abstaining is extolled with a dark blue aluminum token. When the soberness reached nine months, the last aluminum token which is a purple aluminum chip is given.
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When an AA member finishes one year of continued sobriety, the anniversary celebration is marked with a Bronze Yearly AA Token. The token is christened “heavy metal” because of the heaviness of the medallion and the importance of having reached one’s birthday in Alcoholics Anonymous. It is the sponsor who usually hands over the yearly bronze tokens along with a cake and a short speech about the celebrant. For sobriety anniversaries of utmost importance, the Brilliant Triplate Medallion is usually awarded. In terms of cost and design, the Triplate AA Token is the most expensive and fanciful. Each AA token is a miracle for an alcoholic predisposed to die drunk.