Alcohol is a widely consumed legal substance, even by those with diabetes. While diabetes can be a serious, life-limiting condition, alcohol is still consumed, misused and abused by those with a diabetes diagnosis.

In fact, many believe that heavy alcohol consumption can lead to type 2 diabetes, acting as causation. Others argue, on the other end of the spectrum, that diabetes and its side effects lead many individuals down the path of alcoholism. While others merely enjoy alcohol while balancing their blood sugars.

In the situation of excessive alcohol consumption, the results can be detrimental. Yet, how dangerous is alcohol consumption, following government guidelines to someone suffering from diabetes? Down to many blurred lines, many individuals do not know this and could be risking their physical and psychological health by overdoing it with their consumption.

With this in mind, whether you’re suffering from diabetes, whether you drink excessively, or whether you’re concerned about a loved one, here’s all you need to know. Here’s the link between alcohol and diabetes, how it can aggravate it, and how the reality of a diabetes diagnosis can fuel alcohol misuse.


Can diabetics drink alcohol?

There are many misconceptions around the recommendation of consuming alcohol when living with diabetes. While alcohol can increase the risk or the severity of a diabetic diagnosis, especially when considering weight gain and imbalanced blood sugars, alcohol is in fact safe to consume, moderately.

Unless stated otherwise by medical professionals, alcohol consumption is fine when following government guidelines. Yet, it is important to understand the link between the consumption of alcohol and diabetes.

For example, when consuming alcohol, the organic balance of sugars in the blood will deviate. To the average person, this can be controlled. Yet, to someone with diabetes, this can result in a hypo. Down to these risks, it is important to gauge a safe quantity of alcohol, which will usually be made on a person by person basis.


Can alcohol cause diabetes?

Alcohol consumption, alone, is very unlikely to cause diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is a natural occurrence where the body’s immune system attacks the key cell which produces insulin, meaning that insulin cannot be produced or in other words maintained, organically. Type 2 diabetes, the most common type is where low levels of insulin are formed and maintained, the exact type which can be aggravated by excessive alcohol consumption.

Type 2 diabetes and its side effects can be controlled through lifestyle choices, nutrition and exercise. Here is where alcohol consumption can influence the development of diabetes, as weight gain is common through excessive alcohol abuse, as imbalanced hormones and blood sugars are common through excessive alcohol abuse, as reduced health and wellbeing is common through excessive alcohol abuse.

Down to this, alcohol can instigate, can aggravate and can uphold the side effects of diabetes. Yet, there are further influences, beyond alcohol, such as family history, background and age which can motivate a diabetes diagnosis; both type 1 and type 2. Gaining freedom from alcohol can also give you freedom from diabetes.


The risks of alcohol and diabetes

Reasonably, alcohol can be consumed by diabetics. Yet, it is vital that it is controlled and that personal tolerance is gauged. Without this control, alcohol and diabetes can carry many risks, including:

  • – Imbalanced blood sugar levels, causing a hypo.
  • – High blood pressure levels down to the effects of excessive alcohol traces.
  • – The risk of neuropathy damage. Diabetic neuropathy risks are already high, yet by adding alcohol into the mix, this can be aggravated, causing nerve damage.
  • – Further physical and psychological health issues down to the imbalance of hormones.
  • – The risk of alcoholism or alcohol abuse.


Ways to reduce the risks of alcohol and diabetes

  • – Control the amount of alcohol consumed, as greater amounts can alter blood sugar levels.
  • – Avoid high sugar mixers.
  • – Avoid low-alcohol wines, as in most cases, the reduction of alcohol will be subsidised for sugar.
  • – Avoid low-sugar beer or cider, as in most cases, the reduction of sugar will be subsidised by strong alcohol levels.
  • –  Keep hydrated post-alcohol consumption.
  • – If possible, check blood sugar levels.
  • – If necessary, consume sugar, or insulin to help reduce hypo risks.


Alcohol, diabetes and the brain

The risks of alcohol and diabetes are commonly linked to the impact they have on blood sugar levels. Yet, it’s also important to consider a further link, associated with the brain, mental health issues and addiction.

Those who are consuming high levels of alcohol, ultimately influencing type 2 diabetes may be consuming high quantities, resembling an addiction. This can be very common, beginning innocently, yet causing changes in the brain, influencing addictive associations.

Some individuals who already suffer from diabetes are also known to consume high levels of alcohol, although medically discouraged, in order to escape the condition. While hypos are very common, ongoing alcohol consumption will be used to block out the reality of living with diabetes. Here is where addiction can form, ultimately aggravating the side effects of diabetes.

Both of these situations can be detrimental, not only placing physical health in jeopardy but psychological health. Attempting to treat both conditions can also be tricky as the correct balance must be present in order to maintain blood sugar levels. Low blood sugar levels can trigger diabetes, yet can also trigger mental health issues, such as irritability and depression.

Down to these risks, alcohol consumption for all individuals, yet especially diabetics should be controlled. If yours has escalated reaching out for professional support will be recommended. Attempting to overcome the effects of alcohol abuse, alone, will be discouraged, down to pre-existing depletion of health.

If you’re looking to tackle the damage of alcohol and diabetes, reach out here at Ocean Recovery. We are addiction and mental health recovery experts, working at a range of levels. Avoid the risks linked to excessive alcohol consumption and your diabetic diagnosis by understanding your personal limits.

John Gillen - Author - Last updated: January 13, 2022

John is one UK’s leading professionals in the addiction recovery industry. Pioneering new treatment techniques such as NAD+ and ongoing research into new therapy techniques such as systematic laser therapy, John is committed to providing the very best treatment for people throughout the UK and Europe. During his extremely busy schedule, John likes to regularly update our blog section with the latest news and trends in the industry to keep visitors to our site as well informed as possible on everything related to addiction treatment.