Alcohol and Diabetes

I am reposting this:

My name is Alex O’Meara. I am a writer for and . I am writing an article about alcohol and diabetes, both type 1 and type 2. The article is about how alcohol impacts diabetes, both excessive drinking and simply social drinking. I would like to hear from anyone who has information to share about alcohol and diabetes.

In addition to being a writer for for the last six years, I have been a type 1 diabetic for 41 years. I am the recipient of an islet cell transplant and am the author of Chasing Medical Miracles: The Promise and Perils of Clinical Trials (Walker 2009).

I look forward to hearing from anyone who wants to be interviewed about alcohol and diabetes.

Thank you!

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Thanks, Mila. This is actually an interesting subject for a large segment of our community, and the answers often vary wildly.

For some it is just too much bother in planning for the impact and not worth it. For others there is very little impact–I’ve seen a wide spectrum of responses and I think that alone is potentially helpful to those trying to figure out their own approach to the issue…

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Let me raise the practical concern that if you have any altered level of consciousness, or sometimes if you don’t, as a diabetic, the medics and the police may feel an obligation to take you in. Diabetics are particularly vulnerable should anything go wrong. Example 1. Its a poolside party and someone slips and gets hurt. People call the medics. The diabetic is sitting on the ground, talking to the injured individual when the medics arrive and someone yells, “She/He’s a diabetic!” Now, you might have a problem if you have alcohol in your system.

It has been my experience that diabetes is highly exploitable in any situation where the police/medics/authorities show up. Sometimes people who are sick or intoxicated, themselves, have used my diabetes as a way to distract from the original reason that authorities were summoned. One needs to be very, very careful.

Example 2. I found a neighbor outside my apartment building in a snow bank. I woke him up and he started wandering out into the road. I tried to steer him back towards the building and out of the road. We were awkwardly stumbling/flailing about as I attempted to guide him where he ought to be. A cop drove by and then slowly pulled over. At the moment of the officers arrival, my neighbor seemed to sober up ten fold. He started yelling, “She’s a diabetic! She needs to eat a cookie or she will die.”

The cop immediately asked if I had a cookie. I said that I did not. My neighbor stumbled and swayed side to side, barley able to stay upright and I considered letting him fall. But, I continued to hold him by the arm, supportivley. The cop asked if I shouldn’t just go get a cookie. I ignored the question. My neighbor continued to drunkenly, but ardently, demand that I eat a cookie. Moments later, my neighbor reached into his pocket and produced - a large piece of a cookie. He held his arm outstretched to me, shaking the cookie, begging me to eat it, “You’ll die,” he pleaded. The cop looked at me and, irritated, said, “Just eat the damn cookie!” I took the cookie. I looked at it. Then, fast as lightning, I threw it as far as I could. It disappeared into the darkness of a nearby parking lot, never to be seen again. Both men stared after it, sullenly, as if any hope of resolving the situation was now forever lost. I looked straight into the eyes of the cop and growled, “I’m not eating that cookie.” The officer turned and walked back to his car. I helped my neighbor find his keys and escorted him to his doorstep. But, I never forgot what he did that night. It was diabolical.

I have found myself in a similar situation many, many times. I can tell you that if you have been drinking, it often results in transport to the hospital. One needs to be very, very careful.


Oh man … what an awful situation to find yourself in!

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Thanks for sharing this interesting story about the cookie and the confusion that sometimes takes place when diabetes and alcohol interact!

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Maybe this wasn’t clear - but, the cop took medical advice from a man who was ‘fall down’ drunk, over how to treat me - a perfectly normal blood-sugared, stone cold sober good samaritan who was helping him not to freeze to death in a snow bank. We are always ‘at risk’ of treatment. Imagine how this situation would have gone down if my neighbor and I had been drinking together that night. I would have gone to the hospital and had hundreds of dollars in medical bills.

Its tricky because as someone who is at risk of passing our from diabetes, I always stop when I see someone passed out on the street. They could be a diabetic. But, if anybody knows me and sees a medical emergency, there is always the risk that, somehow, I become the object of interest. I’ve never liked that. Its always safer to quietly slip away when I hear the sirens approaching.