There are a number of rituals in the rooms of AA, NA and OA. One of the most widely practiced is the coin ceremony. Whether you’re getting a coin after 30 days or 30 years there is cause for celebration. You have proven that one day at a time you can keep sober.
In the world outside of the program, an anniversary celebrating an important event is usually an opportunity to drink and drug or to overeat. Obviously we do not subscribe to these practices as we are of a different mindset. An anniversary is a celebration of abstinence from our substance of choice.
Sometimes we encounter people who are not in the program who don’t understand this. They will often ask us, “can’t you have just one? What could the harm be in having just one”? Experience has shown us that no, we cannot have just one. That “just one” sooner or later will result in total relapse. That’s why we advice people in the fellowship to see if their anniversary coin will dissolve in their mouth. That should be the only time they consider going out and using.
Personal Reflection: How do I maintain my sobriety?
One of the joys of being a member of a 12 step program is being able to share in the anniversary of a fellow member. There are different traditions surrounding this celebration. Sometimes the celebrant will share his experience strength and hope; sometimes he or she will get a speaker. There is almost always a cake to go along with our perennially present pot of coffee. There is also a coin ceremony where the celebrant receives his or her coin marking another year of sobriety.
These coins mean a lot to us. Many of us carry them wherever we go. They are a constant reminder of the recovery path we embarked upon when we entered the program. In some rooms, there is a tradition of passing around the coin just presented to every single person in the room. We are not doing this because we view the coin as some magic talisman that will prevent us from going out. Rather, by having all people present touch the coin we are affirming our deep connection to one another. It is oft repeated that this is a “we” program. Our sobriety only came about because we had the opportunity to share with one another our fears, problems, resentments, progress and insights. We are symbolically demonstrating that each of us has a role in the sobriety of his or her fellow, as do they in ours.
Personal Reflection: How have others helped me get my coins?