A Brief and Interesting History of AA Chips

In the US, 85.6% of adults older than 18 said they’ve drank alcohol in their lifetime and 69.5% said they drank in the last year.

As you can see, drinking culture is big in our country, which makes it very easy to go down the slippery slope of alcohol abuse and addiction. But there’s light at the end of the tunnel, and many have fought to get sober. Part of that sobriety includes AA chips, which are given out as a sign of success.

But what’s the history of these tokens? Read on to find out more!

What Are AA Chips?

First of all, what exactly are AA chips? “AA” stands for Alcoholics Anonymous, and interestingly enough, AA chips (or tokens) aren’t actually officially part of AA. In fact, you can make custom ones from companies like The Token Shop.

However, these sobriety chips are often given out at AA meetings to mark a significant amount of time of abstinence from alcohol, such as a few weeks or months. These chips/tokens are about as big as a poker chip, which means they’re easy to carry around.

How AA Chips Were Started

Nowadays, AA chips are widespread and you’ll most likely see them at any AA meeting you attend. But surprisingly, their origin is a bit unclear, and there’s no solid answer as to how they were started, as well as when and where.

The general consensus is that before AA chips were started, AA members already carried around their own tokens. This would be a physical yet small thing they could carry around that’d remind them of all the hard work they’d put into recovery and sobriety.

The earliest mention of AA chips is in letters from meetings back in 1942. A group in Indianapolis made it a group occurrence, and this practice spread to other groups when AA members visited the Indianapolis location and brought the tradition back to their own AA groups.

There’s another theory that a nun started AA chips. Sister Ignatia worked at St. Thomas Hospital in Akron, Ohio, and she’d give patients a Sacred Heart Medallion after they got sober and left treatment, as this would remind them of all the hard work they achieved and the commitment they had to sobriety. From there, the former patients introduced the sobriety token tradition to their local AA groups.

Be Proud of Your Sobriety

Now you know a little more about the history of AA chips and why they’re given out. While their origin is a bit hazy, there’s no doubt that these small chips hold lots of power.

Whether it’s you or a loved one who’s on the path to staying sober, it’s always important to acknowledge that and be proud of the long journey you’ve been through. By giving yourself or your loved one custom AA chips, it can mean the world and be the motivation needed to stay sober.

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