Everyone knows that chips are often used as a way to track the progress of your sobriety. But why is that? It could be anything: trophies, medals, or nothing at all. Chips have been used to track sobriety for a long time. Here’s what you should know.
Chips Have a Long Symbolic History
Dr. Bob and the Good Old Timers, a history book for Alcoholics Anonymous, discusses the work of Sister Ignatia in Akron, a nun who was devoted to assist early members of A.A. and was known for passing out coins to these members. In this book, it states, “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 and St. George medals as well.”
This is widely accepted as the first instance where AA members used coins or tokens to mark sobriety. https://www.my12stepstore.com/product2952.html
There’s a reason why people enjoy symbolism: because it works. Symbolism makes things more powerful and concrete for you. This is also why keeping and writing a journal can help get a handle on your emotions.
Chips Trigger the Reward Center of Your Brain
While it may seem like a small thing, chips and medallions trigger the reward center of your brain. Think about it: people like collecting things. People collect coins and stamps. They collect digital things in online games.
Collecting something gives you a real reward for something that is otherwise intangible, and makes your progress feel more concrete.
Chips Are Celebrated by Others
Chips are an easily recognized method of celebrating being sober. You can tell someone else about your chip, and they will understand what you’ve accomplished thus far.
This type of shared experience makes it easier to connect with others, because you know that others are on the same playing field, and they’re experiencing the same challenges as you are.
Chips Are a Common Language
The use of chips in programs such as the 12 Step Program has become so commonplace that they’re now a part of the language used to describe sobriety. For those who are on parole or for those who are trying to interact with their families again, they can show a chip and the other person will understand what that means.
Chips are a useful symbolic way to express your achievements, but they are just one method. There are many ways that you can track and celebrate your progress Check out My 12 Step Store for more ideas and over 2000 different years and types of chips, coins and medallions to honor and celebrate your recovery or someone you support and love.