A crab bucket is what it is: crabs in a bucket. What happens in that bucket, however, is what makes this phrase a famous metaphor.
When a single crab is in a lidless bucket, it can escape. When more than one crab is in it, none of the crabs get out. This is because when a crab attempts to escape, the others will grab on and drag it back down to share the mutual fate of the rest of the group.
On a social level, this kind of concept can be related to those who want to recover from an addiction. It manifests itself in two things: peer pressure and environmental influence.
It’s common to hear stories from adults facing addiction who say they smoked marijuana for the first time at the age of eight or nine. It started as an innocent offer from a friend or a sibling, or from raiding a parent’s liquor cabinet as a dare.
The people who end up abusing drugs and alcohol entered into adulthood surrounded by the same people who encouraged partaking in indulgences as part of social interaction.
For many, giving up the comfort and security of belonging to a group of fellow users and alcoholics can be difficult. Members of the group will likely not support any decision to quit; they are more likely to try to sabotage an attempt.
Drinking together is often part of tradition for many when celebrating holiday gatherings, rites of passage, camping trips, and vacations. For many, it would be impossible to forgo booze at the beach, as it would be for the swimwear and sunscreen.
Escaping the Bucket
So what if you’re that crab that wants to escape the dreaded bucket? Get help from an outpatient drug rehab—this might be the only answer.
When you want to see what the world looks like outside of your shack and try to leave, the others may feed you with, “Do you think you’re better than we are? Who says life is better on the outside?”
Get help and kick your way out. Just remember this: on the other side of the bucket, there are those who have scrambled past the naysayers.
Look around you—those bucket survivors didn’t become dinner.