Re-Learning to Drink


In February of 2013, Caleb (not his real name) had hit a breaking point. Crystal meth wasn’t exactly creating dramatic negative consequences in his life—he was still successfully employed—but he wanted to quit and was struggling not to use. He turned to Stonewall, San Francisco AIDS Foundation’s substance use treatment program, in addition to joining Crystal Meth Anonymous (CMA), for help with his meth problem.

CMA, a 12-step program, prescribes complete abstinence from all substances, not just meth. Members are asked to stop drinking alcohol and using other substances since they could trigger meth use, leading to relapse. For about a year, Caleb stopped using alcohol—in addition to meth—completely, even though his alcohol use was not his primary concern.

Caleb, during his period of sobriety, quickly realized the extent to which—as a gay man living in San Francisco—alcohol permeated his social world. “Gays definitely drink a lot. I don’t know if it’s just gay men—or anyone living in San Francisco—but if I wanted to drink socially every day, I could. Without any problem. And I live in the Castro so the bars are nearby.”

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