Addiction Pothole Story

Addiction Pothole Story


The addiction pothole story is often used in groups to help people understand how difficult it is to change behavior.

People have told this story for a long time and in various ways, but the basic story is recited below:

A man walks down the road.  All of the sudden, he finds himself at the bottom of a big pothole.

Katie Malinski, LCSW calls, “the pothole story a metaphor for change.”  She says that, “potholes are really bad habits that we find ourselves sucked into without meaning to go there.”

He is unable to get out of the pothole himself, it takes a lot of work and help from others, but he finally is able to get out of the hole.

The man continues to walk down the road and falls into the pothole again.

It is difficult, but he eventually is able to get out of the pothole.

He continues this pattern for awhile until he starts to recognize that there is a pothole in the road.  Unfortunately, he continues to walk down the road,

see the pothole, and still falls in.  He does this for many days.  Eventually, he starts to anticipate that the pothole is coming.

He walks down the road and tries to avoid the pothole, but somehow continues to fall into it.

Eventually, the man walks down the road and then walks around the pothole.   Finally the man learns to take another road.

The story helps us identify the steps for change.  The first step is to develop an awareness of what is happening.  Next, we work to make new decisions and choices.

Then we develop new behaviors that lead to successful change.  Finally, the new way of doing things becomes a habit that we don’t even have to think about.

These new behaviors and coping skills make the road before us seem smoother.

This story appears to be an adaption of a poem from a book by author, Portia Nelson (There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk:  The Romance of Self-Discovery”).



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