The Connection Between Diabetes and Alcohol Use

person with diabetes testing their blood sugar

The Mayo Clinic suggests that both alcohol and tobacco use increase the risk of type 2 diabetes. Heavy drinkers are at a high risk and individuals with an alcohol use disorder are the most likely to develop co-occurring diabetes.

Why is this the case? What happens when a person with diabetes drinks alcohol? Why should those with diabetes avoid drinking alcohol?

Alcohol Use Disorders and Diabetes

Healthline says that people with diabetes should generally avoid consumption of alcohol because it can make the disease worsen. Alcohol can interact negatively with medications used to control diabetes. The substance can also cause other problems for these individuals.

Alcohol is metabolized in the liver, which is the body’s organ for the regulation of blood sugar. Diabetes medications work to lower blood glucose (or sugar) levels, which stimulates the pancreas to create more insulin. Alcohol causes the blood sugar levels to become further affected, which could lead to a dangerous medical condition known as hypoglycemia.

The liver is a delicate organ that works to regulate the body’s sugar levels. Flooding the liver with alcohol means that the organ will work overtime to remove what is perceived as a toxin from the blood, instead of doing the job of regulating sugar levels.

While the liver is detoxifying the blood, it simply cannot secrete glucose. Even one glass of alcohol takes an hour to break down in the liver. The Diabetes Council states:

“For someone who is on insulin or certain medications (Glipizide and Amaryl are two examples), this can prove to be dangerous. Unless you are eating, the insulin continues to work and drop the blood sugar. This can happen very quickly if appropriate actions are not taken.”

Woman holding a glass of beer

A study published in Science Translational Medicine showed that binge drinking causes insulin resistance, which leads to type 2 diabetes.

For people living with diabetes, maintaining a healthy level of blood sugar while drinking is incredibly hard. While you can drink alcohol in moderation, your blood sugar must be monitored before and after the beverage is consumed. If blood sugar is not controlled, it may be too risky to consume alcohol.

Getting Help for an Alcohol Use Disorder

Getting help for an alcohol use disorder before secondary complications such as diabetes occur is imperative. Alcohol use disorder can cause liver diseases like cirrhosis and even liver cancer, in addition to diabetes.

CBS News reported that from 2009 to 2016, Americans ages 25 to 34 experienced an 11 percent increase in deaths from cirrhosis of the liver. One clinician said, “This study highlights the silent epidemic of advanced liver disease in the United States.”

Fortunately, there are many alcohol rehab resources standing by to help people with the disease. These treatment facilities can do more than help prevent complications such as diabetes. They can save lives.

Contact The Recovery Village Ridgefield today to learn more about admission to alcohol addiction treatment programs.