,After back to back meetings where I handed out coins and tokens to mark recovery time, I thought about explaining just exactly why we do this. To some it may seem very childish but in reality it is a simple way of marking progress. Because folks are coming back from so far away, these "chips" represent the days/months since they decided to quit drinking/using and are often the last defense to a relapse.
Sounds strange? Please let me explain. For years a woman in our group spoke of how she took her keys to go get in the car to go to a bar to ease her pain after about a year clean. When she looked at them before putting the key in the ignition, she saw the key chain we gave her for 9 months clean, and it made her think, is this worth giving up all that time?
Tonight a man spoke of how the footprints and praying hands medallions played a major part in his 60 days clean, and I thought immediately What's In Your Pocket? What do any of us carry around to remind us to stay on a good path? Maybe a cross, maybe a key chain with a picture of a loved one, or one of these recovery tokens that we cling to so mercifully when tempted.
They don't cost much, but these mementos save a whole lot. That's why when you see someone pick up a year or more, you stand and cheer because you know the battles they've had to face. When you count up at least a half dozen other chips they have picked up to get there, you can see the impact that this simple reward system has. It is a milestone that put together represents 8,760 hours of sober living.
To a recovering addict that is an eternity worked 365 days one day at a time, often seconds at a time, just to stay clean and not do anything destructive. When you reach in that pocket and feel that $2 token, it becomes a reminder that you have worked way too hard to turn back now.
It's not worth anything in a pawn shop, but it's a million dollar token when it saves your life!
Glenn is an ex-Marine Viet Nam vet who is also a recovering alcoholic, clean and sober for 30 years. He has been involved in start up and ongoing recovery ministry at North Atlanta Church and Campus for the last two decades. He has a passion for outreach and to spread the message that the answer to lasting and fulfilling recovery from addiction is in a relationship with Jesus Christ. He and the ATB team are available to assist in your questions or needs on an individual basis and will do so maintaining complete confidentiality. You may e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.