All of us mark time all our lives all along the way: birthdays, anniversaries, and so much more. For those in recovery, there are special markers. They are called chips!

As the markers of time in sobriety are celebrated, AA and NA award chips to commemorate the achievement of attaining each wonderful marker in time.

These AA chips are some of the most valuable markers in life. They do not come around automatically like birthdays or other life events. Oh no, each one is earned and worked for and finally deserved.

Markers are part of existence such as society marking each New Year, as we keep marking each personal milestone. Markers are how we keep track. Keeping track of sobriety is joyful beyond imagining.

The joy I witness as each client receives a new chip is wondrous to observe. Each marker shows that you are not doomed to be in active addiction for all time. Chips are tangible reminders that you have imprisoned the dragon, just as the dragon had you imprisoned for so long. The truth is, you were imprisoned because the dragon robbed you of choice. The appetite of the dragon was not static. It needed to be fed continually, and always its terrible appetite increased.

Taking control of the dragon is not the end of it though. It is really the beginning stages of the realization that this dragon, although no longer in control, is just lying in wait. This dragon has a long view of the future and is always just waiting for the first opportunity to break out of bondage and retake control. This dragon has a lot of patience. But that’s OK. Because as long as you know that you control you, you are in charge.

A bit from the dragon can be fatal, as we have seen in many tragic deaths. These chip markers make you stronger as they are bestowed upon you, but they are just reminders and certainly not conclusive proof that you have been cured. You are not cured. You are in control of your recovery for as long as you wish it to be, for as long as you work your program, for as long as you hopefully continue in aftercare and participating in meetings.

So with each chip, there is deserved happiness, pride, and relief. There is hope and recognition of recovering the person you were. Cherish each chip and keep collecting. Each chip is a testimony to your strength, your resolve, and your commitment to your well being. It is positive proof that not only are you in recovery, but that you can look forward to helping newcomers come into and stay in recovery right along with you.

These recovery anniversaries are the greatest anniversaries of your life. For without these anniversaries, there might not be a life. Active addiction is a fatal illness, but before death robbed you of the life you were granted, you suffered greatly. You were isolated and scared. You were a liar, maybe a thief, a cheater, and every bad adjective we can use. But now, this glorious now, you earn and receive chips. Your markers are badges of achievement and of strength.

Whether you do the twelve steps or another program, just keep keeping on. Nothing comes close to the success of twelve-step programs, so stick with those programs. These programs are everywhere.

Most everyone I know keeps their chips with them at all times. Usually kept on key chains, where they beautifully become big, cumbersome, colorful arrangements. A profusion of color and achievement. A crowning achievement at that!

Continually receiving chips means you get to have all those other markers. Birthdays and all of life’s celebrations are yours now. Without collecting chips, you risk letting the dragon escape. But collecting chips means you control you and you get to have all the rest of the markers in life. What a bargain!