Alcohol and Type 1 Concerns

This is for adults 19+ ( 19 is legal age in Canada)

I am a relatively new diabetic with just a year since diagnosis. I am 22 years old and a university student. Just wondering any techniques that help keep your sugars in range when consuming alcoholic beverages. I often over carb when drinking because I know that alcohol can drop your sugar levels quickly. I don’t binge drink but sometimes at parties its easy to get carried away. Any recommendations on reducing the extreme highs and lows or should I just completely remove alcohol from my life. I don’t drink often but are the risks outweighing the pros?

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I suggest that you monitor your blood sugar frequently before, while and after drinking and adjust carbs/insulin as needed. I enjoy a drink or two and find that some alcohol makes me go up and some down. Rather than strickly relying on feelings, frequent testing has helped me find the trend and adjustments that most often work for me.

Helo @Ray,

There are many variables involved when combining alcohol use with diabetes management. Quantity, timing and food intake are paramount.
There are a a few extensive topics on here with many recent contributions - I suggest that you enter "alcohol’ in the search engine and read those postings.

@Ray, hi Ray,
if you do a search as @Dennis suggests you will find a lot here.

The decision to drink alcohol is very much like to decision to eat pizza. if you want to, and you learn how to use insulin, you’ll be fine.

alcohol can block the absorption of carbs, and can take hours to clear your system, during that time you may drift low, and then as time marches on, you may find you are drifting higher. uncontrolled it will be a roller coaster… controlled it’ll be just like everyone else’s experience.

in my particular experience and opinion, alcohol never caused a drastic or sudden glucose change in me. beer has significant carbs and so my blood sugar doesn’t drop, wine and hard alcohol are blood sugar neutral.

severe hypoglycemia kind of appears the same as very drunk, so if you are at a large large party and get low to a point where you need help… you could get into a bit of trouble if you are alone and they put you in a closet to “sleep it off”. just saying. good luck whatever you decide.

Hello Ray,
I am a 21 year old T1D and a college student as well. I have been diabetic since I was 15 years old and obviously just started drinking a couple years ago. However, it took my awhile to feel comfortable in my sugars while drinking. I also check my sugar before I start drinking, once a couple hours into it in case I need to adjust anything, and then once more before I go to bed. At first, I did not know what alcohol would do to my sugars, which made me nervous to drink. However, now I know how my body reacts to the alcohol. For the most part, I can drink like any other responsible 21 year old, however it does take time, to get comfortable in drinking. I hope this helps, because trust me, I have been where you are at!

Alcohol shoots you up like drinking juice. But will not last long as juice will not without adding a protein too. So when going to bed and see high numbers know that throughout the night you will drop - is best not to give yourself a “correction”and if you’re “drunk” you might not feel your low well enough to recognize your going low not just still feeling the effects of the alcohol. My daughter is 21 and has chosen to use a CGM which has been a great help!! It is a personal decision but it is peace of mind!

@vdenerson are you speaking of drinking alcohol of having drinks with a little alcohol added? There is a difference.
For me, if I’m sipping a good Irish, I must also consume some additional carbs and NOT take insulin to keep my BG from dropping. I count as zero carbs a couple of glasses of wine consumed with my meal; the same goes for a pint of beer when I have a burger.

So the bottom line is alcohol can affect people differently - the key for PWD is when “drinking” is to avoid any drink mixers.

My insulin bottles used to come with a little sticker that said “Do not consume alcohol while taking this medication”…

I’m pretty sure I’m in the minority, but I’ve chosen not to consume alcohol at all. I’m 31 and I’ve never touched the stuff. I’ve had a few close calls with low blood sugars over the years - like from taking the wrong dose or wrong kind of insulin by accident - and I’m just scared that if my judgment is impaired in any way I’ll be more likely to make those kinds of mistakes. And, as @joe said, I’m also worried that my friends won’t know what’s wrong and will expect me to “sleep it off.” So I don’t drink and everyone in my life knows that if I seem drunk I need sugar immediately.

If you decide to keep drinking, I would make sure a friend knows what to do if you start behaving strangely. Maybe even knows how to check your blood sugar for you. And frequent testing in a controlled setting would be wise. Maybe have a beer (or whatever your preferred drink is) at home one night and test a bunch to see what it does to your blood sugar. Then you’ll have a better idea of how much insulin to take and how much to eat while you’re out.

Hey @Ray

I’m 24, and recently finished university. through trial and error i discovered the following:

  1. Beer is carb heavy: shoots your sugar up rapidly. You take a pile of insulin all night for each beer/round of beer pong, and once you go to bed/pass out, your body starts looking after the alcohol and you go low, super low.
  2. Wine has less carbs than beer, more alcohol however. A nice balance, in fact. You can drink all the wine you want and correct towards the end of the night.
  3. Spirits: brings your sugar way down. Have a carby snack (handful of chips) for every glass of whiskey.
  4. Mixed drinks: This is the gold standard. These are your gin tonics, rum and cokes, etc. You have your hard liquor that brings your BG down and your sugary coke, tonic, etc that brings you up. This makes for a good solution. One possible issue is where your friends try to do you a favor and serve you a rum and diet coke because they are trying to be helpful. This will send you way low after a few.

I now barely ever drink beer. It’s just too complicated and I don’t enjoy beer enough. Scotch and whiskey works magic for the price:fun:BGcontrol ratio.

Trial and error man!


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Today’s question of the day on Glu ( is about alcohol. If you join, you might find some more insight in the comments there.

if anybody needs me I’ll be doing a bit of comprehensive research on this subject starting about Friday evening. jk

please note that metabolism, just like personalities, can vary and so can your blood sugar.

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This is an excellent article about T1D and alcohol

I have found that one drink per hour is a safe pase. Try not to go over 2 or 3 drinks. A good low sugar drink is Vodka and diet Sprite. When you get back to your dorm test your sugar and see were you are at. You also might want to get up in the middle of the night to test your blood. Always remember that you first spike then latter your surgers will fall.

Hi Ray!

The College Diabetes Network has tips and tricks for how to manage blood sugars when drinking. Below is a link to the specific page, but they also have a lot of other great resources for T1’s that are in college, so feel free to explore their website. I learned a lot from it! After I’ve had a few drinks of hard alcohol, I need 50% insulin for about 12 hours (that includes basal and bolus insulin). That’s just me and everyone is different, so it’s important to know your body. Hope this helps!

This is something I have experience with, but have no good advice. I used to drink. I did for years. Through college an beyond. It just caused me too many problems and I eventually quit.

Not only is hard to control BS at the time, it can cause you BS to drop like a rock at night when you’re asleep. I would also experience lows for the next couple of days. The kind of lows where you don’t know who you are or where you are.

As I understand it, your liver can’t multitask. So while it’s processing alcohol, that’s all it does. It can’t put glucagon in your blood when you get too low like it can when not processing alcohol. That causes the lows.

Sounds like some other people on here have It figured it out. I never could. With a cgm it would probably give you a better chance. When I did drink I didn’t have one, heck, I didn’t even have a blood tester at the time (they hadn’t been invented yet.)

Anyway, my advice would be don’t. At least be very careful.

In my state there is another legal intoxicant (weed) that doesn’t cause these problems. Maybe go with that instead. works for me.

Good luck.

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Years ago, whenever I would drink very much I found my sense of glucose levels became completely unpredictable and the hypoglycemia unawareness was scary, so I decided to never drink alcohol alone. I later read a study linking alcohol consumption to neuropathy and decided that non-alcoholic (NA) beer was a tasteful compromise. Interestingly, the social consequences were positive and friends would often buy my dinner because they knew I was a reliable “designated driver.” :wink: