Alcohol With Diabetes

I was just curious how you all deal with the temptation of alcohol while being diabetic. I know its dangerous for us to drink. Personally I can’t drink alcohol due to another condition called pancreatic divisum and combined with diabetes adding alcohol is a very lethal mix. I’ve just been finding it hard to say no because I want to try it but can’t. For now I use being underage as my excuse for why I’m not drinking but that won’t last forever. And trying to explain you can’t drink for medical reasons to drunk people is excruciatingly hard. Luckily I don’t encounter alcohol very often in my friend group. Idk does anyone else have any problems dealing with this? Maybe my perception is skewed due to my other condition and its not as dangerous as I think it is for T1s to drink.

Hi Caleb @DunnwithT1,

It sounds as if staying away from alcohol might be best for you - the safe approach.

Over the years, there have been several discussions about how to “safely” consume SOME moderate amounts of alcohol. Use the search, but here is a link from about one year ago.

Good luck with your new college life!

Hi man. Just remember that your real truest friends will not force you to drink or make you feel out of place because you do not consume alcohol. if you don’t wanna, you don’t wanna. tough shit for them. I used to drink until one day my BG dropped to 11mg/dl… your friends wouldn’t even know what to do if that happened to you. just be safe whatever it is you decide.

Take care,


Hi Caleb,

I’ve had T1D for 14 years and recently turned 21. Alcohol definitely does some weird things to my blood sugars, but I had to do trial and error to really figure out what worked for my body. One way I drink safely is by being in a group where at least one person will know what to do if my blood sugar gets dangerously low or high. Also, when I was still figuring out what my blood sugars would do, I would only have a couple of drinks at a time and not go too hard on drinking.

I’m part of the College Diabetes Network chapter on my campus and it’s a group of people with diabetes. We all get together and talk about diabetes and college and the various challenges we face. CDN has a page just for info on alcohol and diabetes. If you’re interested here is the link:

Overall, CDN has some really awesome resources that helped me answer some of these tough questions about diabetes and college life. I hope this helps!

I just finished up my last semester of college, so it’s safe to say I had a few drinks while I was there. Obviously drinking for anyone is linked to health problems if not done safely, but you have added risk as a diabetic. I’m not going to tell you it’s impossible because it isn’t. But here are some tips I’ve found to be helpful:

  1. What you Drink
    While beer is delicious, it can pack a huge amount of carbs per can. Darker beers especially can have as many carbs as a large low snack. They are especially dangerous because you are more likely to drink more of them due to the low alcohol content. These carbs in my experience will be hard to dose for because when your liver is working to clean the toxins from your body it will not be focused and making insulin let carbs into your blood cells.
    Solution: You can make low carb alcoholic drinks by using diet mixers and hard alcohol. Some of my favorites are Coke Zero with Whiskey, or a Diet Margarita with lime juice, Diet Sprite, and Tequila. These will have little to no carbs, and take away the guess work with dosing while intoxicated.

  2. What you eat
    While it is good to have food before drinking, it can be difficult and dangerous to eat a carb dense meal before making your liver start working. I recommend eating a good meal, but not necessarily a carb dense one at least 2 hours before you plan on drinking. This will not only make sure your body isn’t busy absorbing carbohydrates, but it is safer to drink when you have eaten.

  3. Who you drink with
    At one time I may have indulged in too many alcoholic beverages in a night, but I have since found the danger in that pursuit. Even then though, I always made sure that a close friend of mine (designated drivers or sober friends are perfect for this) was aware of my diabetes. This is useful because not only should your friends be aware and have some basic knowledge of your health ailments, it makes sure you have a resource if for whatever reason the night takes a turn. Again, please don’t abuse alcohol as it’s not healthy for anyone, but having someone who can make sure you test your blood sugar regularly and help if there is an issue is always a good idea.

Beyond that: test often, make sure to test before bed so you don’t have carbs kicking in once you go to sleep, drink plenty of water during and after, always keep a glucagon close by (honestly this should already be happening even when not drinking), and know that most alcohol bottles aren’t required to place nutritional information. A quick google search though can provide you with the carbs and calories of your favorite beverage.