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AA - Alcoholics Anonymous Gifts

Updated on September 19, 2012
AA Unity Symbol Medallion Necklace
AA Unity Symbol Medallion Necklace | Source

Things to get a friend or loved one in recovery

If you know someone in recovery and have ever wondered what is appropriate and when it is appropriate to offer a gift, then read on.

With over 2,000,000 people involved in Alcoholics Anonymous alone and more people joining 12-Step groups everyday, sooner or later, either a friend or relative you know will be involved in a recovery-related or 12-Step fellowship of some kind. And while recovery and sobriety is often a personal journey, there are many reasons one can offer some token, talisman or even a thoughtful note to offer encouragement, congratulations or motivation to stay clean and sober

When is appropriate to offer a gift to someone in recovery?

Anytime… really. In 12-Step meetings, plastic medallions or chips are given to a newcomer, after 30 days, 60 days, 90 days, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year of continued sobriety. Any of these occasions are a good time to offer a token of encouragement.

After one year, each clean and sober birthday or sobriety anniversary is a fantastic occasion. To the person in recovery, the sober birthday is a very big deal because it marks another continued year of sobriety. I know that in my case and for many others as well, the years of sobriety also become an accomplishment that you don’t want to ruin by relapsing. The sobriety anniversary is a very special event so giving a little 12-step recovery gift to a friend, spouse or loved one is a very appropriate and well-received gesture.

In AA meetings and other 12-Step related groups like Narcotics Anonymous or Marijuana Anonymous, sober birthdays are celebrated within each group. Medallions or chips with numbers marking the year(s) of continued sobriety are given to the person, and usually a birthday cake is shared among the group. The person celebrating the sober birthday then tells the rest of the group how they did it to encourage the newcomers or other people struggling.

Another opportunity to offer a gift of encouragement is when someone either just starting going to support group meetings or has relapsed. Unfortunately, relapse does occur in the early stages of recovery and sometimes even after years of sobriety. Offering as much encouragement as possible to give sobriety another chance is vital.

One Year Sobriety Keychain
One Year Sobriety Keychain | Source
One Year Sobriety Dog Tag
One Year Sobriety Dog Tag | Source

What to get someone in AA, NA, MA, CA or OA

With so much stuff out there what DOES one get for the clean and sober? Anything from a greeting card to a bouquet of flowers, to recovery-related merchandise like jewelry, t-shirts, coffee mugs, key chains, magnets or books are very acceptable 12-step recovery gifts. More than anything, it really is the thought that counts and the nature of your relationship with this person will determine how much you want to spend.

What about Al-Anon?

Al-Anon is different because it is a support group for people whose lives have been affected by other people’s alcoholism or addiction. Al-Anon is all about finding serenity and coping, but they still use the principles and rituals of Alcoholics Anonymous. Chips and sobriety anniversary are obviously not celebrated but the members are nonetheless working the 12 steps, often in very trying circumstances. For these folks, encouragement cards, flowers, or small touchstone or talisman with the Serenity Prayer are great

Where to get these gifts

Larger cities like New York and Los Angeles have sober shops with all kinds of merchandise. You may not live in a city with one or it may be inconvenient to get to the store because it requires a special trip. Today, the internet offers a number of on-line recovery stores that offer specialized merchandise ready to ship to your door.

A quick Google search with keywords like recovery gifts, sobriety gifts, sobriety anniversary, or serenity prayer jewelry will give you a list of possible on-line retailers. Check out on-line shops like or my own recovery shop,  As a person in recovery, I seek to offer anything that can help my fellow sober sister and brothers.

Sobriety is very rewarding but it is often one of the most difficult challenges that your spouse, friend or loved-one has ever faced. Advice, interference or criticism is not helpful but support and encouragement can make all the difference.


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