Alcoholism and Diabetes

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited:  November 17 ,2020 | 4 Sources

There is a link between alcoholism and diabetes and it is often a dangerous one.

In some cases, the link can lead to an early death if the person continues to drink. While some people with blood sugar issues can safely drink in moderation, those who drink excessively will often experience progressing health problems. For some, diabetes alcoholism can be deadly.

The only real way to know if you or a loved one will have severe issues with alcoholism and diabetes is to have a work up done by your health professional. He or she can best detail the health issues that you may experience if you tend to drink.

Some Common Precautions

Diabetes alcoholism should be especially concerning for any diabetic who also has the following health issues. For these individuals, any amount of alcohol can be dangerous:

  • Any type of damage to the nerves in either the arms or legs.
  • Any sign of diabetic eye disease.
  • Any sign of increased blood pressure.
  • Any sign of increased triglycerides.

One of the most common issues with alcoholism and diabetes is nerve damage. It should be kept in mind that any amount of drinking can lead to nerve damage, in both diabetics and non-diabetics.

For diabetics, however, who also have some form of nerve damage, drinking will often increase the pain, tingling, numbness, or burning sensations that are usually associated with diabetic nerve damage.

Because of the chemical composition of alcohol, those who have high triglycerides should avoid all forms of alcohol, as consumption of even small amounts will increase the levels of triglycerides in the blood system.


If You Take Medication

Diabetes alcoholism will also cause significant problems for those who are taking either oral medication or insulin shots for their disease. In these cases, drinking can lead to low blood sugar levels. Under normal circumstances, when blood sugar levels drop off, the liver will produce glucose to help compensate for the drop.

Alcohol consumption, however, will block glucose production from the liver. The liver will continue to avoid producing glucose until the alcohol has been cleared from the body. This is one of the main reasons persons suffering from alcoholism and diabetes should avoid consuming alcohol.

For those diabetics who are allowed light drinking, the American Diabetes Association recommends never to consume alcohol on an empty stomach. These individual should only drink after they have had something to eat. They should also eat something before they retire to bed after drinking. This can help to prevent a low blood sugar event.

For Type 2 diabetics, those who can control their diabetes with diet and exercise, instead of medication, drinking alcohol will usually be less of a risk factor for low blood sugar events.

The Best Advice - Alcoholism and Diabetes

It is a myth, and a dangerous one, for all diabetics to believe that they can have a few drinks and do so safely. The truth is simple:

  • some diabetics cannot drink alcohol at any level and be safe. Knowing where you stand on this important issue is vital to maintaining good health. 
  • It is also important to remember that many of the symptoms associated with this problem will not be felt immediately, thus making the person believe that they are all right while they are drinking.

Those concerned with alcohol dependence and diabetes should consult with their doctor before drinking. This is the only way to know for sure if a problem may occur.

Once the consult is finished, persons with diabetes alcoholism issues should follow the advice given to the letter. Some health issues, especially the most dangerous ones, can occur very rapidly if their doctor's advice is ignored.

If you have any questions about diabetes alcoholism, please contact us.

More than alcoholism and diabetes on our alcoholism stages page

Alcoholism home page

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 

I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LPC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More