Are We Addicted to Oil? Lessons from Mental Health

Southwestern Geographer 14: 121-136

28 Pages Posted: 14 Feb 2010 Last revised: 11 Feb 2013

See all articles by Melinda Benson

Melinda Benson

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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Date Written: February 14, 2010


The phrase “addicted to oil” is commonly used in discussions on energy policy in the United States. But should we be using this term so casually, or at all? The term “addiction” is a charged one, and it has potential implications worth examination. This project resulted in a scholarly manuscript that describes the criteria for addiction using the medical model’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Normal Disorders (DSM-IV). It then applies those criteria to our nation’s relationship to oil and examines potential implications. Application of Prochaska and DiClemente’s Stages of Change Model (1983) provides a basis for drawing further parallels regarding the role of addiction in diminishing human potential that may be applied on a cultural scale.

Keywords: Oil, Climate Change, Energy Policy

JEL Classification: Q48, Q38

Suggested Citation

Benson, Melinda, Are We Addicted to Oil? Lessons from Mental Health (February 14, 2010). Southwestern Geographer 14: 121-136. Available at SSRN: or

Melinda Benson (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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