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What is a Closed Meeting?

The Difference Between Open and Closed Meetings

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Updated June 23, 2014

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On published schedules of 12 step meetings, some are designated as "Open" meetings, while others are shown as "Closed" meetings. What does this mean?

Closed Meetings

Alcoholics Anonymous, Al-Anon Family Groups, and Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings are generally closed meetings unless otherwise stated. Closed meetings are limited to members and prospective members only.

It is up to individuals to determine if they are "qualified" for membership, based on the following criteria from Tradition 3 of the 12 step groups:

Alcoholics Anonymous : the only requirement for A.A. membership is a desire to stop drinking.

Al-Anon : the only requirement for membership is that there be a problem of alcoholism in a relative or friend.

ACOA : the only requirement for membership in ACOA is a desire to recover from the effects of growing up in an alcoholic or otherwise dysfunctional family.

Open Meetings

Open meetings are for anyone who is interested in AA, Al-Anon or ACOA. If a meeting is "open" it will be so designated on the published schedule. Open meetings can be attended by students, professionals, and other non-members interested in learning more about the recovery programs.

The designation of a meeting as "open" does not change the meetings primary purpose of the group.

The Primary Purpose from Tradition 5 of the individual fellowships are:

Alcoholics Anonymous : Each group has but one primary purpose - to carry its message to the alcoholic who still suffers.

Al-Anon : Al-Anon has but one primary purpose: to help families of alcoholics.

ACOA : Each group has but one primary purpose -- to carry its message to the adult child who still suffers.

Generally speaking, when attending one 12 step meeting, members do not mention their membership in other 12 step groups during the meeting, to keep the meeting focused on its primary purpose.

If a meeting is not designated either open or closed on a published schedule, it should be considered closed.

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