Clutterers Anonymous (CLA) is a twelve-step program for people who share a common problem with accumulation of clutter. CLA does not exist to provide housekeeping hints, tips on sorting and filing, or lectures on time management. Rather, CLA focuses on the underlying issues made manifest by unnecessary physical and emotional clutter. As of 2005 CLA was active in over fifty cities in America across seventeen states. The only requirement for membership is a desire to eliminate clutter and bring order into one’s life. Clutterers Anonymous replaces “powerless over alcohol” in the First Step of the Twelve Suggested Steps originally developed by Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) with “powerless over our clutter.” CLA was founded in May of 1989 in Simi Valley, California.
Cluttering can be symptomatic of deeper mental and emotional problems. Problem clutterers are more likely to have depression, mania, OCD or ADHD. Any of these disorders can be comorbid with compulsive hoarding. Others attribute cluttering to the human desire to hunt and gather, while still others describe it as a consequence of over-consumption. Some members of CLA describe the inability to let go of objects as a consequence of spiritual emptiness.
Cluttering is not lethal like alcoholism, addiction, or depression, but it can have devastating consequences. Many clutterers have been evicted from their apartments, lost custody of their children, or have literally gone to jail for violations of building, health and fire codes.
The CLA approved literature includes the two fundamental texts of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA), Alcoholics Anonymous (the so-called “Big Book”) and the Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions as well as eight CLA specific pamphlets. At meetings, CLA members read directly from both books replacing the word “alcoholic” with “clutterer.”
Clutterers Anonymous is not associated with Messies Anonymous, a support group founded by Sandra Felton, utilizing her copyrighted publications, and is not based on the Twelve Steps of AA.