The Longstanding Tradition of AA Medallions

Awarding AA medallions or chips is one of the oldest traditions in AA. Sister Ignatia gave the first medallions to men who were leaving St. Thomas Hospital after their 5 days drying out. The acceptance of the medallion signified a commitment to God, AA and recovery. Under the guidance of Dr. Bob and Sister Ignatia, St. Thomas Hospital became the first hospital in the world to treat alcoholism as a medical condition.

Medallions have always been an important part of my recovery, and getting to the next level in recovery has always been a goal. I always carry at least one of my medallions in my pocket at all times. A couple of years ago, a friend of mine sent me the Footprints in the Sand Medallion, because I frequently talked about my eye-opening experience seeing a life-size tapestry of footprints in the sand on the wall of a retreat house.

Why Doesn’t GSAA Distribute Medallions?

Several months ago, I chaired the Celebrating Sobriety meeting at 10 PM on Saturday night. I frequently heard celebrants talk about the importance of their 30, 60 and 90-day chips in their recovery, and many mentioned how much they missed them during the pandemic. Many members felt that the only thing missing from virtual AA meetings on In The Rooms were these symbolic tokens.

At that time, many of us had home groups where we were awarded our medallions. But as an increasing number of people started attending online meetings and making Global Steps AA (GSAA) their home group, many people inquired as to why GSAA did not distribute medallions. I told them I would pursue the matter. This was just before the coronavirus epidemic.

As social restrictions imposed by the pandemic prompted people to find online alternatives to face-to-face meetings, people started flooding into our GSAA meetings. Many of these people were in very early recovery. This amplified the need for medallions in GSAA meetings to help people grow in their recovery. My sponsors have always told me to keep my medallion in my pocket at all times, and if the urge to drink came upon me, to put the medallion in my mouth and suck on it. If it melted in my mouth, I could take a drink to wash the metal down. Obviously, it never happened, and as such, I did not take a drink.

The Medallion Program Comes to Fruition

By April, I had enough feasibility data to propose the idea of starting a medallion program to the GSAA Business Group. I continued to work on an implementation plan, ensuring that all questions were answered and any objections from the group were addressed. Then, in May, I presented the project at the business meeting, and the members approved. Funds for the project would come out of our income as normal operating expenses.

Help us Spread the Word

Please help us get the word out to let all members of GSAA know that we now have a Medallion Program!

Here’s how it works:

  1. Start with two envelopes.
  2. Put your address on the first envelope (this is the return envelope that we’ll use to send your medallion).
  3. Put a brief note in this envelope, indicating how many months or years you have been sober, so we know which medallion to send you. Do not seal this envelope.
  4. Put the first envelope inside of the second envelope.
  5. Write this address on the second envelope:
    Ken 8406
    9070 Hummingbird Lane
    North Ridgeville, Ohio 44039
  6. Seal the envelope, then put it in the mail!

As soon as I receive your letter, I will put the requested medallion in your self-addressed envelope, then take it to the Post Office.

My goal is to have the United States portion of this plan up and running in June, and to finalize the plan for Canada, Europe, and Asia in June also. I have a volunteer for Canada, but would like to have two more team members to handle Asia, the United Kingdom and Europe. This is Global Steps AA, and we want to be all-inclusive, just like our disease.

If anyone needs help or clarification, please send me a private message.

Yours in service,

Ken B



  1. Deborah Harrison Reply

    Thank You! I myself celebrated my 7 years here in a meeting on ITR. Which is wonderful and I am grateful. I did wonder about medallions and how some use them as tools to help themselves or others when they need to, and could not get to a face to face when my anniversary date came but did think of maybe having a remembrance of this year being a difficult one for me so I will be sending my envelopes in.

    This is a wonderful thing thank You so much It means a lot to me that is for sure.

  2. This is such a thoughtful thing to do, as I will be reaching my 30 days this Saturday and was unsure if I’d be able to get a token. This is amazing! I will be going to get my stamps and envelopes tomorrow! Good bless! I hope you realize what a great thing you are doing! Thank you

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