CHIPS

Definition of Chip:
A sobriety coin or token given to AA or other 12 step group members representing the amount of time the member has remained sober.
Synonyms of Chip:
coin, chip, token, medallion, token, etc.

These notes are from recovery in AA and/or other 12 step programs.
Readers are encouraged to click the external link for more detail.
We hope you find them helpful.
Love in fellowship.

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The practice of giving sobriety chips in A.A. is attributed to a Group in Elmira, N.Y. in 1947. The celebration of birthdays came from the Oxford Group where they celebrated the anniversary of their spiritual rebirth. People in early A.A. chose the anniversary of the date of their last drink.

The chip tradition is believed to have started with Doherty S., who originally brought A.A. to Indianapolis. Doherty himself, in a letter to Bill, seems to indicate the practice originated in Indianapolis in 1942.

Nell Wing wrote in 1962 about the history of the chip system: “…The chip system might have begun in Indianapolis….reference was made in a letter from Doherty to the start of giving out ‘chips’ and ‘tokens.’

This was in 1942. I imagine this would be about right, because most of the early groups started in 1940 and it would take about a couple of years to think of anniversaries and marking any time of sobriety. I asked Bill about this and his memory is that the system started in Indianapolis.”

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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).

Sister Ignatia was born in Ireland as Bridget Della Mary Gavin on 2 January 1889 at Shan valley, Burren, in County Mayo.

Before A.A. began, organizations such as temperance societies, gave out medallions or coins to people who pledged to quit drinking or for marking periods of sobriety.

The sacred heart medallions had been used prior to A.A. by the Father Matthew Temperance Movement of the 1840’s and the Pioneers, an Irish Temperance Movement of the 1890’s.

We don’t know precisely who started this system first, or when and how it spread to other groups. As with many things in AA, the exact nature of the history eludes us! –AA History | More…

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