Drinking with type 1

I’m underage to drink in the US, but I’m going to Europe this summer with my sister where the legal drinking age is 18. We’re staying with some friends so I’m sure we’re going to go out. Seeing as I have no expierience with any sort of affects alcohol has on type one, I’m curious to see how you all manage it! Any tips or tricks? Trying to stay safe and still have a good time :wink:

hi @BellasheaT1D, physiology of alcohol and blood sugar typically, beer and fruity/juice mixed drinks will make your blood sugar go up, wine, will very likely be neutral, and hard straight alcohol will make it drop. Bolusing for alcohol is very very tricky. typical alcohol and blood sugar trajectories include a rise, then a likely bolus, and then a drop… typically when you get a little drunk and are less able to take care of yourself.

most people with very little drinking experience will drink too much and puke. don’t be most people. 1-“drink”, iow, 1 glass of wine - OR - 1 beer -OR- 1 “shot” (1 ounce) of hard alcohol = 1 drink. one drink (or less) PER HOUR and you will probably be okay more than that and you may experience intoxication.

the tricky thing about alcohol is the rise and then drop in blood sugar. test more than usual. have fast carbs handy. really drunk… and really low have the same outward symptoms, if you get in trouble and your pals think you should sleep it off, and you can get into real trouble. someone should test you if necessary if you appear drunk and want to go to sleep.

make sure you completely trust the people you are with, and make sure they can deal with you and a low blood sugar, ok? I must say that sometimes this story ends with “and then she died” so please take care of yourself.

Also, this isn’t a new topic. There are plenty of threads about drinking if you do a search (the spotlight looking icon at the top of the web page) you can find quite a bit here.


Biggest risk is not FEELING hypoglycemia coming. Use CGM or test regularly. And don’t drink more than 1-2 drinks. 1 if you’re not used to.
And test.
(dude with 30+ years of T1D, and European)

I don’t drink very often, but I do recall a couple of things:

  1. Carbwise, a bottle/can is approximately a slice of bread, carbwise. A pint if likely a slice and a half.
  2. In my experience, it’s best not to drink when you’re low or on an empty stomach–have some other carbs first, or the alcohol will hit you hard (this may vary by person).
  3. Be cautious. I’ve never had so much to drink that I threw up, but I can see that happening and really screwing up your BG.

So–drink carefully and you should be OK.

Something I haven’ seen mentioned here is that intoxication and hypoglycemia have the same symptoms because as far as your body is concerned they are both caused by the same thing: lack of glucose to support brain function. When you have a hypo you don’t have enough glucose in the bloodstream to keep the brain working. When you drink non-sugary alcoholic drinks (hard liquor, or dry drinks) it suppresses the liver and other tissues release of stored glycogen, so unless you have eaten recently to support bg directly you will go low, with no “safety net” to support thinking ability, including life functions.
Conversely if you drink a “Sweet” alcohol it will raise bg immediately and/or support normal levels, depending on details.
That’s why smart people insist on having any alcoholic drink ONLY when eating something. Many diabetics I’ve heard from over the last 32 years online drink Merlot, which fits the balancing act very well, but only 1 drink with dinner.

Alcohol makes you relax your standards. That’s why guys always want to buy us drinks. I found when I drank wine–usually dry wine–that I relaxed the restrictions about eating and became very piggy, running my blood sugar up. If I were you, I’d try just one glass of wine on one night to see what effect it has. One glass shouldn’t hurt you. You might continue that one glass/one night approach whenever you go out for several more times. If you feel you could handle it, you might have two. Remember the restrictions go down and though you don’t want to, you might drink more, and in that case you might be in deep do-do.

Liquor like vodka and tequila will lower your blood sugar, especially if paired with your normal bolus of insulin. Take it easy and be mindful. There is no right answer here because our bodies will metabolize the drinks differently. Sugary drinks and beer on the contrary will cause hyperglycemia, and many beverages dont have nutrition facts to help you determine insulin bolus levels. Just take it easy and be mindful.

From someone who knows, the best bet is to not do it. That’s because while you’re liver is processing alcohol (it takes a long time) your liver can’t multi task. So that’s all it does. As your BS drops it can’t pump glucose into our blood so you drop like a rock.

Personally I would take less insulin to give yourself a cushion. Make sure to eat something before you go to bed.

for me anyway, when getting low after drinking it was always the really bad lows where you don’t know who you are or where you are.

If you do, only drinking 1 or 2 is the best advice. Doesn’t work me, so consequently, I gave it up.

I know this article is long - but well worth the read. It explains how alcohol works in the body when you have T1D and how to drink responsibly.