Are we addicts?

Definition of addict
transitive verb
1 : to devote or surrender (oneself) to something habitually or obsessively
. . . .

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It’s interesting you would think of this idea, since back in the ‘War on Drugs’ days I actually wrote to the ‘Drug Tsar’ and asked him why, with all the enormous efforts being made to control dangerous drug use, curing type 1 diabetes was not part of the ‘war.’ Much to my surprise, I actually got an answer with a lot of hemming and hawing about well, yes, of course, diabetes is a major problem, and we’re doing everything we can, and yes, we understand that hypoglycemia is killing lots of diabetics just as improper use of recreational drugs is killing people, but you see, the National Institute of Health deals with diabetes, so just let us off the hook.

But the point I was making that they missed was that type 1 diabetics are forced to take insulin and it can impair quality of life and increase the risk of death from overdose just as illegal drugs can do, and that its overdoses, in contrast to most other drugs, are not deliberate or careless, but just an inevitable result of the spontaneous and unpredictable fluctuations in the body’s need for insulin.


With addiction comes drug pushers. In Canada, a vial of insulin costs $30, in the USA $250? Go figure.

Eli Lilly is an American Company and sells their insulin more expensive in the USA than Canada, or Europe? Why?

Eli Lilly and Company is a global pharmaceutical company headquartered in Indianapolis, Indiana, with offices in 18 countries. Its products are sold in approximately 125 countries. The company was founded in 1876 by Col. Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical chemist and veteran of the American Civil War, after whom the company was named.

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Insulin pump sells in Canada for $7,000 - $8,000

In the USA, I think it is $4,000 plus.

Why the big difference?

Pretty sure pumps are 7-8k here too. Does the Canadian health system pay for pumps? I thought they paid for Medtronic, but no others or something.

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For type 1 up to age 25 after jumping the govt. regulation hoops get assistance. No restriction to pump choice.

So how do people older than 25 usually get a pump? Secondary insurance or something? Or most people just don’t have one?

The government assistance program I believe is about 10 years old only. People who do not qualify will have to be covered by health insurance or out of pocket without coverage. MDI then becomes an option.

There is no “Canadian healthcare” coverage. Healthcare is a provincial responsibility and coverage will vary by province. Many Canadians who are employed have insurance that will cover pumps (and sometimes CGMs). Otherwise, some will save up and pay out of pocket. Often government programs cover pump supplies even if they won’t cover the pump itself (remember, this varies by province — we have 13 different provinces and territories, therefore there are 13 variations of what’s covered or not).

In answer to the OP, I don’t think we’re addicts. Everyone needs insulin. The only difference is that most people’s bodies are able to produce it. Our bodies cannot, so we need to get it externally. We’re not more “addicts” than people who need oxygen or thyroid hormone to survive because their body, for whatever reason, isn’t able to meet the need itself.

I feel that a lot of the cost differences in US healthcare (and it’s all US healthcare, not just insulin) are due to systemic differences. Other countries do not have healthcare systems that are primarily profit-driven, driven by insurance companies, have lots of middlemen, and have lots of pharmaceutical advertising. These are all things that are unique to the US, and all things that are likely to make a healthcare system more expensive.


For Type 1, of course. Without insulin, we die. We can’t withdraw, rehab. We die.

So we are truly addicted. They say that recreational drugs are prohibited because of the way they alter consciousness, but of course, insulin will profoundly alter consciousness for the worse during hypoglycemia episodes. I always found it interesting that even though insulin is available without a prescription in many jurisdictions, recreational drug users have never tried using it for its consciousness-altering effects. They are evidently afraid of its lethality, and here we’re talking about people who are willing to take Fentinol!

We have a situation where the western world has spent tens of not hundreds of billions of dollars over the past thirty years in its ‘war on drugs,’ but only manages to come up with one or two billion dollars a year to combat an unavoidable, unstoppable addiction to a highly lethal drug, insulin.

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I do not use insulin either obsessively or habitually, I use insulin therapeutically and out of necessity.

I may joke about being an insulin addict but in reality I do not consider myself to be one.


I also think of the word, “addict,” in only a pejorative way. I don’t view any of the human body’s natural needs such as food, water, warmth, emotional connection, sex, sunshine, or sleep as being inherently addictive. Insulin, whether secreted naturally or delivered externally, is a natural human need.


Metformin addict here. That has led to harder drugs such as Onglyza et al.


Well, I can’t stop taking a drug that occasionally causes me to behave irrationally and actually risks killing me at inadvertent overdose levels, so there are clear analogies between insulin-dependent diabetes and drug addiction. But of course, the old Latin phrase, ‘Omnia simile claudicat,’ or ‘all comparisons obscure,’ holds here as well, since while the comparison of insulin dependence with recreational drug dependence highlights some similarities between having to take insulin and having to take something like cocaine, it is not intended to be a perfect equivalence.

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If I didn’t need insulin, I could walk away from it today and never look back. Someone who is drug addicted can’t do that quite so easily.

I’m not here by choice or by any momentary lapse in judgment. I resent anyone who compares needing insulin to live to being an intervenous drug user.

So the answer is NO. No one who requires insulin to live is an addict.


I think it can be useful to the cause of curing diabetes to describe us as insulin addicts, since while the healthy majority is obsessed with combating drug addiction, it could care less about curing diabetes. Comparing obligatory use of a potentially consciousness-altering, lethal drug to recreational drug addiction is a useful device to draw the general public’s attention to the problems we face.

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I really don’t see the comparison. The problem with painkillers is that they have a euphoric effect that people start to crave beyond their initial painkilling abilities, and some people become extremely addicted to this. This isn’t the case with insulin. Hypoglycemia is extremely unpleasant, I’m not aware of cases of people taking more and more of it to intentionally drop low. I don’t think anyone takes insulin to experience anything from the drug itself, rather to eat more carbs without going high.

It’s not useful to the cause. There is so much misinformation out there about diabetes, especially Type 1. We don’t need to add to the confusion in any way by comparing insulin use to drug use.

I don’t get why you would even want to promote such an idea.


Not all drugs with an abuse potential are taken to produce euphoria. Some are taken to increase energy and concentration, such as cocaine, which Freud took when he was in medical school to increase his performance, while others are designed just to diminish consciousness, such as heroin, and still others are primarily taken as hallucinogens, such as LSD. Insulin in overdose both diminishes consciousness and produces hallucinations, so the analogy to certain recreational drugs is clear. The reason that recreational drug users don’t use it is that the accompanying sensations and the lethal risks insulin overdose produces are just too horrible, even for druggies.

My point in highlighting this analogy is to try to mobilize the same energy behind curing this involuntary ‘addiction’ that already exists for the ‘war on drugs.’

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