A note from Dr. Cogen:
When thinking about the long list of issues today's teens must face, alcohol use is near the top. The pressure from friends to drink can be overwhelming. Ginger and I would like to provide medically correct information about alcohol and how it affects you and your diabetes management. Clearly, in an ideal environment, we want you to choose to engage in only healthy behaviors. But if you are currently struggling with this decision or have already made the decision to drink, we would be doing a great disservice to you (and your families) by choosing to ignore this topic, especially since this behavior is potentially dangerous.
I know you've heard this a million times before, but remember to keep the following things in mind as you read this blog:
- The legal drinking age in the United States is 21 years!
- If your caught breaking this law, consequences include: fines, jail time, community service and driver's license suspension.
use puts you and others at risk for getting hurt.
Ginger: Realistically, I know you may choose to drink alcohol as an underage person with diabetes because-guess what-I've done it too.
Right up front, I'm going to tell you one of the best decisions I ever made for both my physical and mental health was to stop drinking alcohol.
And I know you've probably already heard the "scare them so they don't ever drink" speech from your doctor. (Dr. C: This isn't always the best approach, but we try to be as direct and honest as possible) I've heard it too, and it didn't work on me either. The decision to stop drinking was completely my own.
But this is the thing, coming from a college student with diabetes (not a doctor) who chose to drink occasionally on the weekends with friends-it is dangerous, and you have to be careful. If you choose to drink (Dr. C: keeping in mind the above disclaimer), why not choose to do it wisely because the risks are serious.
ALCOHOL AND YOUR
BLOOD SUGAR (Ginger and Dr. C)
Alcohol-all kinds, beer, hard liquor, wine-effect your blood sugar in two primary ways:
- There is sugar in all kinds of alcohol. Some have more than others (and all of this can be found on nutrition information web sites), but even if you're drinking a hard liquor with a diet soda, you are still consuming a significant amount of sugar in the hard liquor. You need insulin to cover those carbs, right? Makes sense....
- However, the actual alcohol part of these drinks has a delayed effect on your blood sugar: it can lower it! This is because the liver is trying to get rid of this toxic chemical (yes, all bodies see alcohol as poison) and is doing everything it can to clear it out of your system. (Dr. C: Because the same metabolic pathway in the liver is used to break down stored glucose to provide energy, it is unable to do so while "detoxifying" the alcohol. Therefore, it also has stopped your body from producing any glucose. This becomes an even greater problem if you do not eat when you drink.)
Ginger: So...does that mean you can simply not take any insulin with your drinks and you'll be fine?