Alcoholics Anonymous medallions, also known as tokens or chips, are small coins given out in order to designate the amount of time that a person has been sober. Ideally, the person can then carry this token, and use it as a reminder to stay sober if he or she gets the urge to have a drink. The Alcoholics Anonymous medallions also show how far a person has come since joining Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), and can help to give a sense of pride. Not all AA groups structure the chips in the same way, and some groups do not give them out at all, but this is fairly rare.
The Alcoholics Anonymous medallions are given out based on the amount of time an individual has been sober, not on the amount of time he or she has been coming to the meetings. So, if a person first comes to a meeting after 90 days of sobriety, he or she can get a 90 day chip right then and there if he wants it. Though the increments for the Alcoholics Anonymous medallions may be different for each group, generally they are broken down into a 24-hour chip, followed by thirty, sixty, and ninety days. The next medallion may be six months, followed by one year.
After that, individuals who stay sober will generally then receive alcoholics anonymous medallions on a yearly basis, though there may be an eighteen month medallion offered as well. The medallions may be different colors to indicate different lengths of time, and are generally the size of an ordinary coin. This allows the individual who received the medallion to carry it in his or her pocket and look at it whenever necessary to be reminded of the program, and to take the commitment one day at a time. People who break their sobriety may start over with the Alcoholics Anonymous medallions as many times as necessary. The point of AA meetings is that they are free of judgment, and offer a supportive environment for people.
Some AA groups will distribute chips at each meeting, while others will have designated meetings for this purpose. They may even have an informal ceremony, and may celebrate longer anniversaries with cake and a bigger celebration. Sometimes, to make it more meaningful, the individual's sponsor will be the one to present him or her with a medallion, while other times it will simply be the person who is leading the meeting.