My Journey of Sobriety and the Traditional 12 Step Program

Karen Anginoli
The author smiles with her son

I began attending AA 12 Step meetings when I got sober on November 12, 1992. 

I attended an intensive outpatient program (IOP), which was three days a week for three hours, and 12 step meetings were mandatory. In 1992, most meetings were held at church halls, with a few at designated AA buildings. I attended 90 meetings in 90 days at the start of my sobriety, and eventually, weekly meetings for several years. 

AA/NA offered different types of meetings, such as closed (only alcoholics could attend), or open which meant open to anyone to come and listen and share. 

If meetings indicated a speaker, then that meant someone would be in front of the group to share their own story of getting to AA and sobriety. As with any group setting, there are people that like to share and talk and others who only spoke when felt comfortable. I was not very comfortable speaking in front of groups of people. I think meetings online meetings would have been a good option for me. It was hard for me to force myself to walk into a group of people. I usually sat on the outside of the circle. 

I only tried AA as SMART Recovery hadn’t been introduced yet, but I think I would have liked it as well. I have always told people that AA is a great program, and it works if you work the program. It is a very inviting group and there’s no judgment. Just listening and taking with me what was said and what I needed to hear helped me every day. It surprised me that my feelings and thoughts were something others had experienced, too. It was very helpful to not feel alone and isolated. 

I do not attend a regular meeting at this point, but I do read the Big Book and reflect on the 12 steps and traditions. I would go back if felt the need. 

I feel that after 30 years I can work my sobriety by spreading the message that alcohol is a drug, and I never say I will never drink because it will always be “one day at a time”. I advise anyone wanting to get sober go do it. The program will help you. You think you are the only one with these thoughts and problems, but others have the same thoughts. Going to meetings, and listening, will help. You can share at the meeting if you choose but if not, sit and listen. It will help. 


Karen Anginoli is a Shatterproof Ambassador.

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