autoholics Anonymous--a Self-Help Program for Petro-Junkies
by Riley Geary (October 1997)

Most of us are all too aware of the problems associated with alcoholism, drug abuse, and similar addictions. Yet how many of us are cognizant of the far graver global consequences inherent in our society's continued reliance on petroleum-powered vehicles for personal transportation? Try this simple test to determine if you, or someone you know, might actually be an autoholic:

  1. Do you tend to have a closer and more enduring relationship with your automobile than with most of the people in your life?
  2. Do you suffer anxiety attacks or feelings of complete helplessness and a sense of loss whenever your car is back in the shop for repair?
  3. Do you enjoy going for long drives by yourself (even when you have no particular destination in mind), or setting new speed records en route?
  4. Are you so used to taking your car on even the shortest of trips that you often spend more time searching for a parking spot than in driving where you're going?
  5. Do your cars consume more of your paycheck than either food or rent, and does insurance for them cost more than for both your home and your life?
  6. Are you now or have you ever been an uninsured motorist, or driven without a valid license, simply because you had no other way to get around?
  7. If you had to choose between your TV and your car, would you return to radio? Between grass and gas, would you prefer life without a lawn? And between your sex drive and your 4-wheel drive, would you select celibacy?
  8. Are you fed up with ever-worsening traffic and air unfit to breathe, but fail to consider your own contribution toward these problems?
  9. Do you think that the solution to urban congestion is more concrete and asphalt, and that gridlock can be avoided if we just build enough roads?
  10. Do you believe that there really are limitless reserves of petroleum available, and that the age of the private automobile will never end?
  11. Are you willing to wage war, or condone our nation going to war, for access to or control over a continuing supply of cheap oil--just to keep your gas-guzzler on the road for a few more years?
  12. Do you feel that your right to own and operate a motor vehicle should take precedence over those of your fellow planetary passengers to live in a habitable world, and are you willing to sacrifice the prospects of future generations for a better life, or even for a life at all, on the altar of your own selfish interests and pursuit of personal convenience?
If you answered yes to any of these questions, you might well have a problem. If you answered yes to two or more, you most likely are a confirmed auto abuser. If you are at all concerned about being dependent on such a destructive means of transportation, try kicking your own car habit with:


  1. Get a life by getting a bike--become a born-again cyclist.
  2. Resolve to use pedal power whenever possible in place of a car.
  3. Rethink your priorities and the concept of time as a commodity.
  4. Forsake the frontier mentality of "use it up and throw it away."
  5. Quit the cult of conspicuous consumption and competitive conceit.
  6. Do without, get by with less, and recycle what you have.
  7. Live more harmoniously with the planet and its inhabitants.
  8. Lead by example and encourage others to follow in your path.
With the proper preparation, substituting a bike for your Buick or BMW should bring not only substantial health and financial benefits, but also the peace of mind that comes from taking personal responsibility seriously.

Riley R. Geary, Car-Free Lifestyle Counselor since 1988