An Anonymous Post

From an Anonymous contributor: 

shy-workerI was diagnosed as a type 1 diabetic during my junior year of college. Before I was a diabetic, I would drink 2-3 nights a week. Some of those nights, I would “binge drink”.

After I was diagnosed, I continued to drink 2-3 nights a week. The number of heavy drinking nights went down a little, but my friends would still classify me as an individual who drank as much as the average collegiate fraternity brother.

Diabetes did not change my lifestyle nor my habit of consuming alcohol. I just had to learn how to drink while being a diabetic. It was not a pretty process as I ended up in the ER a couple of times and if it wasn’t for some incredible friends of mine could have died.

That said, I’ve learned a lot and wanted to provide a few pointers in regards to drinking alcohol while being a diabetic.

  1. Alcohol lowers my blood sugar drastically. I can’t echo this point enough. When I go to sleep after drinking, I know my blood sugar will plummet overnight. I have to prepare for this and know first thing in the morning that there is a solid chance my blood sugar will be low. Different kinds of alcohol and drinks impact me differently. I’ve gone to sleep at 270 and woken up at 100 without giving myself any insulin.
  2. Hangovers. One of the biggest things and arguably scariest parts of drinking and diabetes is when I get a bad hangovers. If I drink excessively and beyond a “binge” level, I get these day long hangovers. These hangovers are very dangerous. I will wake up, and the hangover will be reducing my blood sugar. I also will be vomiting and can’t keep food in my stomach. It creates a serious situation in which I will be close to going low, yet can’t consume anything to raise my sugar. I’ve had to go to the ER once due to a hangover.
  3. Party Juice/Jungle Juice is pure sugar. When I was pledging my freshman year we were taught how to make Party Juice also known as PJ or Jungle Juice. It is served at many colleges since its an economically friendly drink. I wanted to share with you the ingredient list we used: multiple handles of 190 proof Everclear, Koolaid Mix, Water, and sugar. Yes, we poured multiple bags consisting of thousands and thousands of grams of sugar. The logic is the sugar gets people “drunker” and masks the copious amounts of alcohol in each drink. What you think has the carbs as a 16 oz cup of Koolaid probably has double or triple that.
  4. Work with your Endo and Diabetic Educator. The day after I was diagnosed I asked my Endo, “can I drink as a diabetic” and we came up with a plan for me to learn how alcohol impacted my blood sugar. It wasn’t perfect, but I slowly learned how to old booze again.
  5. Educate your friends. I let everyone know if you see me passed out, try to wake me up. If you get me up, force me to test my blood sugar. If you can’t get me up, try to test my blood sugar yourself. If none of those work, seek medical attention. My friends once found me passed out and couldn’t wake me up so they called EMS and I was admitted to the ER. I needed to go to the ER that night.  If I had not educated them on how to handle the situation, they would have let me stayed passed out.

Just like when you learned how to carb count, test your blood sugar, and give yourself insulin, drinking with diabetes is an equally as challenging learning experience. Alcohol impacts blood sugar significantly, and its important to understand how it impacts you. For me, a glass of wine can lower my blood sugar 40-60 mgls.

Countless times I’ve woken up in the 50s after drinking. I don’t believe being a diabetic prevents you from taking the risk of underage drinking which the majority of college students partake in. Everyone preaches to you don’t drink. I believe if you want to drink, drink but understand what can occur, and always be prepared.

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

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DrinkingwithDiabetes.com is a resource for young adult Type 1 diabetics and their support networks to help navigate interactions around alcohol. Alcohol is often an integral part of social life on college campuses and while all students face risks, there are a number of unique and serious ones specific to insulin-using diabetics. Learning how to navigate those risks and make informed decisions for themselves about the role alcohol plays in their lives.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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