Diabetes and Substance Use Disorders

When it comes to diabetes, knowledge is power. The more you know, the better you’ll be able to manage it.

So what is diabetes? Diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose, also called blood sugar, is too high. Blood glucose is your main source of energy and it comes from the food you eat.



Carbohydrates are one of the main types of nutrients. They’re the most important source of energy for your body. Your digestive system changes carbohydrates into glucose (blood sugar). Your body uses sugar for energy for your cells, tissues and organs. It stores extra sugar in your liver and muscles for when it’s needed.

Carbohydrates are found in a wide array of both healthy and unhealthy foods—bread, beans, milk, popcorn, corn, potatoes, pasta, cookies, soft drinks, and fruit. They also come in a variety of forms. The most common and abundant forms are sugars, fibers, and starches.


Insulin, a hormone made by the pancreas, helps blood sugar get into your cells to be used for energy. Sometimes your body doesn’t make enough—or any—insulin or doesn’t use insulin well. Glucose then stays in your blood and doesn’t reach your cells. It’s also why your blood sugar levels get too high, and high blood sugar is known as hyperglycemia.

Type 1 Diabetes

If you have Type 1 Diabetes, your body does not make insulin.

Type 2 Diabetes

If you have Type 2 Diabetes, a.k.a. Diabetes mellitus type 2, your body does not make or use insulin well.

Alcohol and Diabetes

Alcohol consumption can hinder the liver’s ability to release stored glucose. Such that if a heavy drinker stops drinking it may cause a sudden decrease in blood glucose levels, a.k.a. hypoglycemia, especially if the drinker injects insulin. Hypoglycemia can be a life-threatening medical condition. Furthermore, hypoglycemia and alcohol intoxication produce similar effects.

Symptoms of Hypoglycemia

  1. Slurred Words
  2. Disorientation
  3. Double Vision
  4. Dizziness
  5. Sleepiness
  6. Headaches

Drinking Alcohol May Further The Conditions That Cause Diabetes

Heavy drinking may be a factor in causing diabetes

  1. Heavy drinking may reduce the body’s sensitivity to insulin, which may trigger Type 2 Diabetes.
  2. Heavy drinking may lead to pancreatitis, and Diabetes is a common side effect of chronic pancreatitis.
  3. Alcohol contains many calories, which can lead to obesity, which is a major risk factor in the development of Type 2 Diabetes.

Managing Blood Sugar Levels

Properly managing your blood sugar levels may help prevent kidney damage, blindness, nerve problems, loss of limbs, and sexual dysfunction. Proper diabetes management may also lessen your risk of a heart attack or stroke.

Monitoring your blood glucose levels a.k.a. blood sugar helps you manage your diabetes. It also helps your healthcare provider monitor your diabetes and determine how well your treatment plan is working.

Common types of Diabetes Medications

Insulin -> There are different types of insulin depending on how quickly they work, when they peak, and how long they last.
Glipizide -> Is an oral blood-glucose-lowering drug of the sulfonylurea class.
Metformin -> Is a first-line medication used for the treatment of type 2 diabetes

Building Your Team

Your doctor, nurse, pharmacist and counselor are all members of your team. Then there’s you. You are the most important team member, because you know how you feel. Yet in the end, all team members have the same goal, to help you manage your diabetes.