Within Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous Gamblers Anonymous, Al-anon and Adult Children of Alcoholics there are 2 basic types of meetings for fellowship and recovery.
The two most common kinds of 12-Step meetings are:
OPEN MEETINGS: As the term suggests, meetings of this type are open to members and their families and to anyone interested in solving a personal problem or helping someone else to solve such a problem.
Most open meetings follow a more or less set pattern, although distinctive variations have developed in some areas. A chairperson describes the program briefly for the benefit of newcomers in the audience and calls speakers who relate their personal histories and may give their personal interpretation of the program
At the end of the meeting there is usually a period for local announcements, and a treasurer passes the hat to defray costs of the meeting hall, literature, and incidental expenses. Only members are allowed to make donations. The meeting adjourns, usually followed by informal chatting over coffee or other light refreshments.
Guests at open meetings are reminded that any opinions or interpretations they may hear are solely those of the speaker involved.
CLOSED MEETINGS: These meetings are limited to members. They provide an opportunity for members to share with one another on problems related to their problems, patterns and attempts to achieve stable sobriety. They also permit detailed discussion of various elements in the recovery program.
All members are free to interpret the recovery program in their own terms, but none can speak for the local group or for that fellowship as a whole.