A Brief History of Sobriety Medallions

Sobriety Medallions

Sobriety medallions have been a staple for many that are in recovery, but where does the tradition start from? And why is it that when you talk to other people, they have different medallions than what you may have?

Here are the answers to your questions on the history of sobriety medallions.

What Are Sobriety Medallions?

AA sobriety medallions and NA sobriety medallions have been around for almost as long as the program itself. These are physical representations of your time to sobriety, used as a reminder of how far you’ve come since starting your journey.

Medallions are not limited to coins either. They can come in multiple different forms, as it comes to the local chapter to decide. The most common form of the medallion is the sobriety chip.

You can also find other tokens like key tags, trophies, watches, or other physical pieces of evidence towards someone’s sobriety.

If you’re looking for AA coins, be sure to check out the link.

When Did These Medallions Start?

These medallions can be traced all the way back to almost the start of the AA program. There are conflicting stories, but the general consensus is that for sure, by 1939, there were people giving out sobriety chips and anniversary medallions.

It starts with Sister Mary Ignatia, who was working with Dr. Bob Smith to help those suffering from alcoholism. They started in Akron, Ohio, and quickly spread throughout the United States from there. She started the tradition of giving these tokens to those that had been through the program and would help them remember their experience there.

What Are the Cornerstones of the Medallions?

Since there is no set practice when it comes to the medallions, it comes down to the local AA community to decide when to give them out. The general consensus is 30 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months, and then a year. After the year, the local chapter can decide when to give out medallions.

Most will give out a new token every year, to both commemorate the year itself and the hardships you may have faced, while also reminding them of the amount of time they have been sober. Some offices will also give out medallions around holiday times, as these are often stressful times for those going through recovery.

If your local chapter doesn’t do any tokens, you’re also more than welcome to pick up your own for your own encouragement. Just try not to take the meaning out of the tokens, as this can make it less rewarding.

Don’t Rely Strictly on Medallions on the Road to Recovery

Try not to rely on your sobriety medallions while attending meetings. You might start looking at sobriety as a game and this can lead to a decrease in willpower with staying on track. Do it for yourself and those around you, rather than the medals.

If you want to learn more about making your way through society and the norms they carry, be sure to check out the rest of our blog. If you know someone that has sobriety medals already, feel free to share this history with them.