Diabetes and Alcohol: Do the Two Mix? (Part 1)

A nice glass of Chianti…a cold beer on a hot summer day…celebrating with a flute of champagne. There are so many ways that alcohol is integrated into both everyday life and special occasions. Granted, not everyone drinks alcohol, but many people do. And when it comes to the question, "Can I drink alcohol if I have diabetes?" the answer is about as clear as that for "Is a low-carb diet good for diabetes?" In other words, the answer really is, "It depends!"


It’s important to mention right off the bat that there are certainly many reasons why people should not drink alcohol. Some may be related to diabetes and some may be related to other reasons. Therefore, it’s important to discuss this issue with your health-care provider if you have any doubts or concerns. And if you’re newly diagnosed with diabetes or starting on a new medicine, it’s worthwhile bringing up the topic if your provider doesn’t.

While you’d be hard-pressed to find any health organization actually recommending that you drink alcohol, you might take some comfort in knowing that the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association, and even the American Cancer Society agree that drinking alcohol in moderation is certainly not off-limits to most people.

But back to diabetes and alcohol. What’s the concern here? And why should some people with diabetes not drink alcohol? To answer these questions, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about how alcohol is processed in the body.

The body treats alcohol as a drug, not as a food product. This means that, when you drink any type of alcoholic beverage, your liver kicks into high gear, preparing itself to “detoxify” the body of this “poison” (I’m using these words for dramatic effect). Essentially, the liver has to metabolize, or break down, alcohol into less harmful substances. This takes, on average, about two hours. While the liver is truly a miracle organ, it can only do so much multitasking at one time. And handling alcohol is its number one priority. So, this means that while your liver is busy reigning in the effects of that green apple martini, it may not pick up on the fact that your blood glucose levels are starting to wind their way down.

In most cases, your liver is able to release glucose when blood glucose levels start to drop in an effort to prevent low blood glucose (hypoglycemia). But with alcohol on board, this may not happen. Now, it’s no big deal if you have diabetes and you control your blood glucose with a healthy eating plan and physical activity alone. Hypoglycemia isn’t going to occur if you don’t take medicine. However, if you take certain types of diabetes pill, including sulfonylureas (tolbutamide [brand name Orinase], tolazamide [Tolinase], chlorpropamide [Diabinese], glimepiride [Amaryl], glipizide [Glucotrol and Glucotrol XL], and glyburide [Diabeta, Micronase, and Glynase]), meglitinides (repaglinide [Prandin] and nateglinide [Starlix]), or insulin, your chances of developing low blood glucose rise considerably. Your chances are even higher if you’ve been drinking on an empty stomach (think cocktails before supper); if you grab a beer or wine cooler after a few runs down the ski slopes (exercise is already lowering your blood glucose levels); or if your blood glucose levels are already on their way down (too much medicine and/or not enough food).

Alcohol is a little sneaky, too, because it’s not always predictable. When the topic of alcohol and hypoglycemia came up in one of the classes I was teaching a few years ago, an astute gentleman quipped, “Well, why don’t I just drink alcohol instead of taking my Glucotrol?”

The question was actually a good one (although we’d never recommend using alcohol in that way). But what he didn’t realize, at the time, is that alcohol is not always so predictable. Some people metabolize alcohol more slowly than others. And alcohol metabolism can depend on factors such as the amount of alcohol consumed and over what time period; body size; type and amount of food eaten along with alcohol; and level of physical activity. It’s therefore not unusual to hear stories from people (often college students) who, after having had a bit too much to drink, “went low” in the middle of the night or even the next morning after a night of partying.

Well, out of time and space for this week. We’ll continue our in-depth look at alcohol and diabetes next week. Cheers!

Want to learn more about diabetes and alcohol? Read “Diabetes and Alcohol: Do the Two Mix? (Part 2),” “Diabetes and Alcohol: Do the Two Mix? (Part 3),” “Diabetes and Drinking: Seven Facts to Know,” and “Alcohol and Diabetes: Tips for Staying Safe.”

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  • daonegriz

    I was told by the first Dr. that I was involved with my diabetes that I should not drink wine, brandy, rum and most beers. She said that those alcohol drinks have the worst kind of sugar for diabetics. She said the expensive bourbon whiskeys have a different sugar composition which is not as detrimental to the diabetics glucose levels. Is her analysis supported by any research?

  • acampbell

    Hi daonegriz,

    I’m not aware of research claiming that bourbon has a different sugar composition. In general, however, brandy, rum and other distilled spirits have practically no carbohydrate (the exception would be something like a cherry-flavored brandy, for example). Wine and beer can vary in their carb content; sweeter dessert wines can have up to 15 grams of carb per 4 ounces, and a stout beer can contain 15 grams of carb per 12 ounce bottle. Unless you’re drinking these or mixed drinks, such as pina coladas, most alcoholic beverages tend to lower glucose levels. If you drink alcohol, check your glucose levels to find out how it affects you.

  • wkmmarfa

    And I always thought that alcohol when consumed would turn to sugar therefore increasing your blood glucose. I refuse to drink alcohol in any manner. As a diabetic that tries to control my blood glucose without insulin its important to not consume products you know will effect your glucose levels. I have friends that believe its alright to consume alcohol. One now had no foot and is missing fingers. Not good.

  • acampbell

    Hi wkmmarfa,
    Many people with diabetes don’t drink alcohol. And it’s wise for people who have difficulty controlling their glucose levels to stay away from alcohol. However, there are people who enjoy having a glass of wine or beer; since alcohol tends to lower glucose levels, it’s important for those who choose to drink to learn how alcohol affects them – this means checking more frequently with a meter. Learning how to safely fit alcohol into one’s lifestyle is possible and should be done under the guidance of a health-care provider.

  • broownn’

    thhiss doeesntt hellp
    aaaaaaaat all . liike
    onne of my [u]bestfriiends[/u]
    mightt have diabeetiies .
    andd ii wannuhh knnow if shhe
    can still drinkk.

  • acampbell

    Hi broownn,

    I’m sorry this posting wasn’t helpful, but the point is, when it comes to alcohol and diabetes, that each person needs to discuss the issue with his or her physician. Most people with diabetes can drink alcohol, but certain medicines can interact with it, and if a person has other medical issues, it might not be such as good idea. So, she needs to talk with her physician about this.

  • Evernew

    I went through a period of about eight years where I did’nt excercise at all and never watched what I ate(I’m 61 now). My blood sugar test came in at 155. I now work out on a rowing machine for twenty minutes a day and now eat more carefully and the last blood test came in at 110. So this combo does work and I do drink red wine and bourbon 3-4 times per week.

  • anil kumar

    hi there thanks for different ideas and experiences
    its really difficult to figure out how things will effect your levels. one thing i do not understand
    is what is good using medicine or doing exercise. when i go for a run I can drop my blood sugar from 13 to 5 . my question is ,is this OK to cut down BSL from that high to that low
    as I diagnosed with type 2 in June 2009 so being new there are so many confusions around my head.need some more information on Formine

  • acampbell

    Hi Anil,
    Well, the good news is that both your diabetes medicine and your exercise are helping to lower your blood glucose! You don’t mention what type of medicine you take, but because you experience such a drop in your glucose with exercise, I’d suggest you talk with your physician about perhaps lowering your dose so that you don’t have too low of a glucose after exercising. For most people with type 2 diabetes, a combination of healthy eating, regular exercise and often, medication is what works best to control glucose levels.

  • PK

    I drink vodka, pretty much every evening. I am also takng Metformn and another drug to lower my cholesterol levels. I’m concerned about developing lactic acidosis, and other problems because of the drugs I’m taking. Are there other drugs with less propencity to cause LA? Although I’ve slacked on my exercise regime for about 1 month now, I also exercise for 45 minutes about 4 times a week. I’m hoping I can get off diabetic meds altogether. My last blood results indicate that my LDL’s are lowering as well as my sugar levels. I’m starting to worry about the Metformin however, after reading more extensively, the side affects.


    I treat alcohol like coke(cola). It’s just not really part of my world. I’ve never heard of any harm comming to anyone from not dinking. I have type 1. I don’t really miss it, not like a loaf of good french bread, anyway.

  • acampbell

    Hi PK,

    Metformin is in a class of drugs that are more likely to cause lactic acidosis than other diabetes medicines. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you should switch to another class of drugs, since alcohol can cause different interactions, depending on the drug. For example, alcohol can increase the likelihood of hypoglycemia if taken with sulfonylureas or insulin. I’d suggest having a conversation with your physician or pharmacist, letting them know how much vodka you drink, the pros and cons of staying on metformin, and discussing, if warranted, other options for medicine.

  • Andrew

    Hi, I actually live in South Korea and have had type 1 since 2005. I generally stay away from strong alcohol but drink the local rice wine ‘makkoli’ around 3-4 times a week (alcohol content is around 5-6 %). I do this for two reasons 1/it tastes good 2/it has no refined sugars as most commercial beers have (stout less so)

    The hospital I get my insulin from here generally has the same attitude as my doctors in England (generally alcohol is O.K provided it’s only 2-4 units a day max) while the Korean clinic (which comes from a homoepathic Korean tradition in medicine that is closer to Chinese medicine and traditions of acupuncture) advise me against alcohol of any kind.

    I’m now in a bit of a quandary and have been cutting back on any alcohol intake over the last month or so because of this. Any observations on these two different views wd certainly be appreciated.

  • Robert

    Hello – I am a Type 1 Diabetic and I am an alcoholic. I drink on average about 6-12 24oz beers per day. I keep my blood sugar under 250 for the most part. I have been having large amounts of ketones, usually in the morning and then when I have a beer it tends to go away to about a trace or small. I am getting concerned about DKA, but like I said…my Blood Sugar is usually below 250 (180 avg). My question is this…Could it be Alcoholic Ketoacidosis? Why do the Ketones come and go? Should I still go to the doctor when ketones are high? Do ketones leave the blood or just keep building up? I hope this was ok to post here. Any Help would be great! Thanks!


    PS. I have begun to quit drinking alcohol…hope this works for the ketones!

  • acampbell

    Hi Robert,

    My guess is that you could have alcoholic ketoacidosis, given that your blood glucose isn’t that high, from what you report. Ketones form when the body breaks down fat for fuel. This can happen in the absence of insulin (I’m assuming you’re taking your insulin) or if one isn’t eating enough carbohydrate (or enough calories for proper nutrition). There may be other symptoms associated with alcoholic ketoacidosis (and DKA, for that matter), including abdominal pain, dehydration, feeling sluggish, loss of appetite, confusion, and dizziness, to name a few. However, since I’m not a physician and can’t diagnose you, I’d strongly suggest you call your doctor, as you may need medical treatment, including IV fluids. In the meantime, congratulations on quitting the alcohol — that will help!

  • acampbell

    Hi Andrew,

    The decision to drink alcohol depends on a number of factors, including your diabetes control and other possible health issues. You mention that you drink makkoli 3-4 times per week but you don’t mention how much. Guidelines in the US for people with diabetes are up to 2 drinks (1.5 ounces of hard alcohol) per day for men, up to one drink per day for women. And there is evidence that drinking alcohol can lower your risk of a heart attack, stroke, and heart disease. However, if your A1C is above 7, if your blood triglycerides are above 150, if you’re overweight, if you have liver/kidney disease, etc., you may want to reconsider how often and how much you drink. So, my advice is to evaluate any possible risk factors you may have. It certainly doesn’t hurt to cut back on your alcohol intake, which you’ve begun to do.

  • Andrew

    thanks for yr advice. Amount of alcohol? 1-2 bottles (I think these bottles are around British pint-size each which would mean 2 units of alcohol each, or just over? don’t know ounces tho) 3-4 times a week generally, although recently less frequently.

    Blood? The odd high of 2-250 in the evenings 2-3 times monthly. I’ve begun to look into natural remedies that have the same effects on the blood as insulin (grapefruit, crushed fenugreek?)

    I also exercise daily (walk/jog/bike) to keep my circulation in order.

    I guess I got in touch because of the advice from the Korean clinic. It’s the first time I’d heard the diabetes=no drinks prognosis

  • acampbell

    Hi Andrew,

    Probably the safest thing to do is to cut back on your alcohol intake, perhaps to 1 bottle 3–4 times per week — it certainly won’t hurt. Again, it would be more of an issue if you had other health problems or even frequent hypoglycemia due to alcohol intake. It’s likely that the Korean clinic is taking a “purist,” wholistic approach to alcoholic (meaning, don’t drink it) and I’d guess they also likely restrict intake of other things, too, such as sugar, red meat, etc. By the way, it’s possible that fenugreek could affect your blood glucose and doubtful that grapefruit will do much.

  • Arend

    Have you made a continuation a part 2 on this subject yet?

  • Diane

    I’ve recently moved to Korea and started drinking the fermented rice wine called Makoli. I’ve been noticing fasting levels in the low 100’s after a night of drinking roughly 2 cups. At one point I’d forgotten to take my 850mg Metformin and still showed a low fasting level the next day. My pills usually get me at around 120-130 fasting. Without my pills my levels are around 170. The Makoli has worked better to reducing my fasting levels than my pills. Other forms of alcohol do not have the same effect as Makoli. I think that something about the fermentation helps. I have not replaced my meds with Makoli, but I have surely cut back on the amount of pills that I take.

  • Tony

    Why is it that brandy makes a Diabetic person have a diffrent mood swing, I witnessed a Diabetic that i live with today who will stay up all night long, not want to do anything to help out, and lots more.. I also watched as he would drink whisky and be in a great mood, but I recently had brandy in the house, after he drank half the container, I woke up, and he had a mood swing, and charged me as well as hit me in the face, what is it that would cause this, He has not acted out this way sence he became a Diabetic. Also, why is it he now will start eating more and more each day, and alot of it is junk food, and not only this, he trys to hide the fack that he is eating this way… will someone please send me a email on how to find this information please, and thank you..

  • acampbell

    Hi Tony,

    I’m sorry that you’ve had to go through this. To me, it sounds like the alcohol itself (and not whether it’s brandy or whiskey) is affecting your friend’s blood glucose. Alcohol can lower blood glucose too much, possibly leading to those mood swings that you’ve seen in your friend. Also, high or low blood glucose can lead to someone with diabetes eating more than usual, which could explain the “junk food.” Does your friend check his blood glucose with a meter? Is he willing to do so? It’s also quite possible that your friend is depressed. Would he be willing to see his doctor or a mental health counselor? Is there a family member of your friend’s who you could talk to? Letting him know that you’re there to help, not judge, him is often the first step.

  • jim snell

    Excellent discussion on the ramifications of a drink and the liver but misses a point.

    I also have stopped drinking during day and evening due to impact of booze on the liver and performance of metformin.

    Careful watching on cgm has revealed that alcohol metablizing by liver shuts off the good effects of metformin so that once booze done; liver really starts releasing glucose in large amounts as metformin effects get shut down.; liver switched from fasting to make sugar mode.

    So, today; I might sip a little wine – minimal effects and only have a hard dring in early am when liver floating around doing not much, metformin mostly gone from blood and gut empty – least impact. Rest of day; no hard booze.

    It has paid off as I have not had a liver dump during day or evening for weeks now nor out of the ball park glucose readings.

  • mame

    I am type 1 diabetic and an alcoholic. I drink approximately 70 beers per week. All of my blood work seems to be okay. I am concerned that one day life will collapse. I feel that I can not quit drinking and I do have to rely on insulin. Thoughts Please.

  • acampbell

    Hi mame,

    The immediate concern is the possible effect that alcohol has on your blood glucose, given that you take insulin. You don’t mention whether you are seeking help for your alcoholism (which I would strongly encourage), but in order to keep safe, I’d recommend that you check your blood glucose frequently, not skip meals, and always carry treatment for low blood glucose with you at all times.

  • Kerry

    Just wondering my husband of 12 years who is diabetic and is suppose to be taken pills and overweight. My question is if he is not taking his medication and testing his sugar and under stress and goes out and gets drunk and then all of a sudden snaps but not on a person can the diabeties have anything to do with that?

  • acampbell

    Hi Kerry,

    I’m not quite sure what you mean by “snaps,” but I’m assuming you mean that he gets angry? In any case, I suspect that his reaction is due to the alcohol, and not because his blood glucose is too high or too low. It’s unlikely that his blood glucose is dropping too low because he’s not taking his diabetes medicine. In order to “test” this, see what happens after he eats a large meal. Does he “snap” when this happens? The bigger issue is that it sounds like he could use some help dealing with stress and his diabetes. Is he willing to do this?

  • wheeler

    I was told that you can drink tequila as it is made from cacti and not a veggie!!

  • jim snell

    Amy makes important points and I wanted to add.

    As old goat 60 plus who started out years ago in fishing industry in Canada – read “drinking”; some folks when sober usually keep their inner frustrations and problems under good control.
    Once a good dousing of booze, all inhibitions and control get removed and person can actually turn very nasty as the inner control gets loosend off.

    As insulin not needed for alcohol breakdown in body, biggest issue is that it is hidden calories – no free ride and most important to me is it interferes with glucose/sugar control as liver’s priority is booze first – sugars – second. In addition because of this, booze also interferes with metformin operation in liver over riding the metformin and cause excessive liver glucose when the metformin is supposed to be shutting it down.

    I have found that small amounts of wine generally are not an issue but hard alcohol really gets liver’s attention.

    I have reduced my alcohol overall but when I have a hard liquor drink – rum, vodka etc, I do so when metformin not up to strength in blood after ingestion. I have found with small amounts – single drink and timing nothing seems being knocked out of whack. BUT be carefull – don’t push it.

    I arrived at this using cgms watching all the riots on the blood stream of this 30+ years as type 2 diabetic.

  • Melissa M

    last night i went out with my friends to the club and we started to drink and before going i ate at home thinking that it would help me a little so my blood glucose doesnt go down because i have read that alcohol lowers your glucose level. when i began to drink and was on my third glass i started feeling buzzed so i decided to stop and then danced and i was feeling fine and everything. when i got home i checked my blood level it was all good but i did get thirsty in the middle of the night. but i woke up with my blood glucose level just fine in the morning also so i guess it would be ok to drink as long as i plan ahead and be careful how much i have to drink. So is alcohol safe to drink for diabetics??? can we drink alcohol and nothing will happen wrong?

  • jim snell

    Well, there is still a question.

    As long as ones body glucose is under control, and moderation is key, then one might conclude all is OK.

    For diabetics though ( and I am talking ype 2 like myself), there are two key issues having to do with:

    1. Liver’s priority to process hard alcohol first and stop sugars processing from gut which can create big low and super high. It is definitely most curious that all’s nature’s animals from lowly fruit fly to the mighty elephant can all metabolize ethyl alcohol and I am told elephants in India and africa can bust into a winery/beer operation to drink the stuff.

    2. Anybody on Metformin needs to know that booze interferes with metformin affect on liver when metformin up to strength in blood and best advice is not mix the two. Booze will override met and cause liver to boom out the glucose buffer to blood stream shooting up BG levels and some believe liver damage.

  • acampbell

    Hi Melissa M,

    As I mentioned in my posting above, it’s likely that most people with diabetes can safely drink alcohol, as long as they don’t have other medical conditions that could be a cause for concern, or take certain medications that could interact with alcohol. That being said, however, you need to be very careful when you drink alcohol, especially if you take diabetes medicines that lower blood glucose (such as insulin or certain types of diabetes pills). Alcohol can be very unpredictable, which is why we advise that you: Always eat something when you drink, limit how much you drink (for women, the guidelines are no more than one drink per day), and check your blood glucose frequently. I’m making an assumption that you take insulin (and I apologize if I’m wrong); in the situation that you described, you likely prevented hypoglycemia by eating beforehand, which is recommended. However, if you were to repeat what you did on another night, you possibly could go low, (especially since you went dancing), either soon after you got home or hours later. The key is to know how alcohol affects you, prevent hypoglycemia from occurring when you do drink, and drink in moderation so that you don’t run into issues with hypoglycemia hours later.

  • Lynette E.

    I’m sitting with my son right now in ICU after he
    age 21 drank with some friends on Sat. He probably would have died if his girlfriend hadn’t insisted on bringing him to the emergency room this morning. He could hardly walk, couldn’t quit throwing up because his blood sugar was so high. He came into the hospital this morning with a sugar level at 835! What he had was 1 mixed drink – vodka and orange pop-not diet pop. and then had 6-8 lite beers. He is only about 150 lbs and about 5’6. He’s in great physical shape, but this is the 3rd time he has been in icu because of extremely high sugars, although each time, they have been about a year apart. I came on here looking for some sort of advice for a kid who is 21 who you know will drink some with his friends, of what “formula” he could rely on for how much insulin to bolus for a drink. It’s only 3 carbohydrates for a bottle and he counts carbs for bolusing. (he’s on a pump and is a type1 diabetic.) This is the 3rd time we could have lost him and I can’t get it through his thick little head that he can’t have that much. He was eating while drinking and he consumed this throughout Sat. evening. Any advice a mom could give her son would be extremely helpful. Then please pray he will listen this time! Thank you in advance. P.S. A year ago he was admitted with sugar level at 900! Insane! I thought he would have learned his lesson! Concerned and loving Mom.

  • jim snell

    clarly a case where booze is a no – no and as diabetic, response is horrible.

    Beers with combo carb and alcohol sound as no help either.

    Thank goodness other thinking folks responded with correct help and response.

    Thank goodness the gods and angels were on duty again!

  • acampbell

    Hi Lynette,

    I’m sorry to hear what you and your son have been going through. I wonder if your son is bolusing correctly for food that he’s eating, as you mentioned that he was eating while drinking. And are there other occasions when he’s consumed alcohol but has not experienced such high blood glucose levels? Do you believe that your son only had one drink? Was your son diagnosed with DKA in the ICU? Is there an issue with his pump or does he perhaps not know how to use it correctly? Your son needs to work closely with his endocrinologist and a diabetes educator to review appropriate pump use and carbohydrate counting, and also to learn how to drink alcohol safely (or perhaps, not at all). And in my opinion, it wouldn’t hurt for him to speak with a mental health counselor just to see if there are concerns, barriers, acceptance issues, etc. around his diabetes. This being his third ICU admission is a red flag in terms of how he is truly dealing with his diabetes. I can’t imagine that he wants to end up in the ICU again, so he may be receptive to education and additional help. However, nagging him to see his health-care team likely won’t work. A gentle but firm suggestion may be more persuasive!

  • Heather

    Hi, I was wondering since this site doesnt really display the types of alcohols that wont affect a diabetics sugar levels if you could tell me jsut a few that a Type 1 Diabetic can have?

  • acampbell

    Hi Heather,

    Of course, everyone is different, but you can start with the assumption that wine, light beer, and spirits (rum, vodka, gin) will pretty much have the same effect on your blood glucose. Where things can get a little tricky is when a person with diabetes drinks a mixed drink that contains carbohydrate and/or fat; for example, a Margarita or a Mudslide. Alcohol’s effects are also dependent upon your blood glucose at the time you’re drinking and if you’re eating food with the drink or drinking on an empty stomach. If you choose to drink, always eat a carbohydrate food at the same time, limit the number of alcoholic beverages that you have, and check your blood glucose more often (including several hours later) than you might usually check. This is really the only way you’ll know how alcohol affects you.

  • Robyn

    I have a friend who is an insulin dependent diabetic! I am really worried as he is also an alcoholic, drinking around 8/10 stubbies a day! How will this effect him?? Concerned friend!!

  • acampbell

    Hi Robyn,

    You’re right to be concerned about your friend. Drinking that much alcohol on top of having type 1 diabetes can be worrisome. One of the main concerns with drinking alcohol is hypoglycemia, or low blood glucose, especially if your friend is not eating when he drinks. It can be hard to broach a subject like this, however. Perhaps you can mention that you’re worried about him and if he’s willing, share this posting or an article about alcohol and diabetes. You can also voice your concerns with one of his family members, as well.

  • Ross

    My wife was diagnosed with Diabetes 1.5 this morning. She is in her early 50’s, works long hours, has extremely low bone density levels, has battled anorexia for the past 35+ years and drinks 2-3 glasses of wine daily.

    Having just found out about her condition a few hours ago, I’ve just started doing research on this seemingly newly-created diagnosis, and it appears as though her weight issues will preclude any use of insulin as a method to control her body chemistry’s blood sugar levels.

    Is there any resource you can point me to that deals with her specific risk-related issues (the anorexia, alcohol consumption, bone density and low muscle tone, etc.) that would be of help in determining a course of action in dealing with this from this point on.

    Thank you—

  • acampbell

    Hi Ross,

    I’m not exactly sure what you mean by her condition “precluding any use of insulin,” as there are very few situations in which insulin could not be used. Injected insulin is practically the same as insulin that one’s body would make, so I don’t see why your wife could not take insulin. The main concern with your wife taking insulin is low blood glucose, and the risk for this increases if she were to drink alcohol on an empty stomach or to not eat after injecting it. Alcohol and some diabetes pills, such as metformin, don’t mix very well, either. Her bone density is not likely to be impacted by diabetes medicines other than a class of drugs called TZDs. Your wife’s physician may want to refer her to an endocrinologist to help determine the best treatment approach. I’d also suggest working with a diabetes educator to address eating issues and overall blood glucose management.

  • Mary White

    To the enablers,
    I read many comments. It is hard to understand why so many people respond with ideas on how a diabatic can keep on drinking. How awful is this! A friend has a horrible swing in his diabaties, he drinks everyday, and sometimes goes overboard. I have saved his life over a 100 times, in the evenings he falls down and goes into a coma. The EMS knows his address by heart. I cannot get him to realize what he is doing, he eats little, and thinks that two drinks a day is fine, but he goes low and has been air flignted to near hospital many times. He fears high sugar levels so much that he gives himself two times the dosage he needs just to keep it at 100. He makes every excuse possible, and I cannot help or save him. People please stop telling diabatics it is okay to drink liquor in any form. As has been said by one of your responders, no one had ever died from not drinking. Stop this nonsense you are the problem. Someone like my friend Joe thinks you really know what you are talking about, you are hurting others.

  • Shelly

    I couldn’t agree more with you Mary White. I am getting so fed up with people telling diabetics that its ok to drink or to encourage them to drink. My husband is an insulin dependent diabetic and his family is always asking him how his diabetes is and if his sugars are ok and if he is feeling all right but then they will turn around and take him out drinking on the weekends and then what happens is he goes out drinking most times he doesn’t even get drunk just enough to feel good and then he goes to bed well in the night his sugar drops (this is every time no matter what he eats) and he has never woken up the next morning after one of these drinking night with his sugar above 2 and he is sick for at least 3 days (trust me it is not a hangover as many people would like to blame it on because i don’t think drinking 3 beers is going to do that to a man who is over 6 foot tall and weighs over 200lbs)even the doctor has said that when your blood sugar drops it is harder on your heart then high blood sugar also Alcohol can damage nerve cells; even light drinking can cause nerve damage which is something diabetics have problems with. Simply put you wouldn’t encourage someone allergic to peanut butter to eat a peanut butter sandwhich or someone with blocked arteries to eat more fatty foods so don’t ever encourage a diabetic to drink.

  • Tina

    My husband gets overly critical, loud and just rude to me. (Especially, on a the last day of a trip. Or two years ago, in the middle of a road trip.) I can not say a thing for if I do it only escalates. Then when we get home if he has a vodka or two, he becomes human again. He is on Metformin and Insulin as a Diabetes 2. He is also on other meds. I just don’t understand.

    I can make a simple mistake or just do something that accidentally inconveniences even his thoughts of what he wants and by God, minus the fact he doesn’t touch me.. I might need to be afraid.

    Why does Vodka seem to help? Are these moments to hours of violent behavior (verbally) due to the diabetes and the vodka is lowering the glucose levels… making him more reasonable????

  • Meow

    Tina, this doesn’t sound like anything having to do with diabetes. Sounds like he may have a critical disposition and that perhaps he is bullying you and just being unkind. Perhaps your marriage is just not working out or you are incompatible? I am a Type 1 diabetic and I drink, though I wonder if I should because my blood sugars are not in good enough control, despite that fact that I try really hard and test my blood many times a day. The scariest thing about it is that alcohol will sometimes cause your blood sugar to get really low, though I know this so I normally take all necessary precautions. Anyhow, is low blood sugar that can make a person angry and nasty. If drinking makes him feel better, perhaps he is an alcoholic that just needs a drink to feel better? I am not sure what your situation is, but I think you should see a counselor about his behavior and treatment towards you. No one deserves to be mistreated by their spouse! Best wishes!

  • rita r

    My husband of 20 years went to jail for 2nd CDV,he is a type 1 diabetic,he drink a lot but I can’t say if its beer or what because he goes out when he drinks,he have been getting worse lately with his mood swings,before he slapped me and pulled me out of (HIS) big 1500 ram truck in front of a walmart camera,Thanks to some guy that stopped him, I am 5 3 weighing 140 and he is 200 lb.he might be fine one minute and I can’t even walk through the house when I wake up before he does,I have lupus, have had 3 neck surgeries,rotator cuff surgery,and now my lower back need surgery,He complains about everything,I cook clean,and make sure his clothes are ironed and he’s looking nice when he goes out,But the mental and verbal abuse has about taken it toll on me ,He understand everyone else except my chronic pain that I have all the time,and my dr’s can’t find anything to give me that doesn’t make me sick.the police that arrested him say he might have to make some jail time,but it’s to the point it doesn’t matter anymore . but his mom ,brothers and two grown children by some one else think the sun rise and sets in their daddy. I have been telling him for years that he doesn’t need to drink while on insulin, because one day he came home and had a black out spell and came outside butt naked but he doesn’t remember it,he kept saying the sky was red. and it tears my nerves up when he comes home drinking,I can’t sleep.

  • julie

    Jeez, Rita, why would you want to stay married to such a jerk?! It sounds as if all of YOUR health problems are caused by being in a stressful situation. Just throw him out already!

  • Gavin

    Hi Rita. Your husband needs to see a shrink.
    According to u he is havin major mood swings

    He needs help more than u do.

  • Gavin

    Pls don’t get into these stupid ppl talks like ” jeez
    Why u are with him or WUTEVER “. Ask urself
    If u love him, if u wanna be with him and if u really are
    Then help him seeing a shrink. Why I am telling
    U this is that I have been thought it. But my wife
    Loves me more than anybody. I went for a treatment
    I am class 2 diabetic. I drink vodka only every other day
    I am takin my MEDS diabetic and for depression.
    I am fine normal. Abuse is always wrong I am highly
    Against it. But if u love each other and willing to help
    U can cure him mentally and physically. But don’t
    Wait for long if u don’t see any change. Rest sister
    I can tell u that love and care can cure anything and yes
    Pray comes with that. God bless u both. Let me know
    If it helps you. Or I can introduce to my wife. Too


  • vipul

    iam diabatic but i love drink what type i drinck whiske or red wine. also when i drink my sex power increas pl suggest

  • acampbell

    Hi vipul,

    The guidelines for drinking alcohol for men are no more than two drinks per day, and for women, no more than one drink per day (assuming that you have no other health or medical issues that may be affected by drinking alcohol). A “drink” is 5 ounces of wine, or 1 1/2 ounces of hard alcohol, such as whiskey. Red wine may provide more of a benefit for your heart health than whiskey, but as long as you are drinking in moderation, it likely does not make a big difference which type you choose.

  • Rosa

    My dad was a diabetic drinking alcohol and forgot to take his medicine. When my aunt founded him he was not responding so when the ambulance got there they said he had lost a lot of oxygen in his brain and one side of his brain was already dead not for sure which side. He stayed in the hospital heavy sedated for 2 months and was sent to a nursing home/rehab center. He hung on for 5 years passed away in April 2012. Just wanted to know was there something that could of been done to prevent this or do it depends on the person?

  • acampbell

    Hi Rosa,

    I’m very sorry for the loss of your father. It’s hard for me to answer your question, as there are likely many factors that played a role in your father’s situation. However, it’s important, going forward, to follow one’s treatment plan for diabetes to help lower the risk of complications.

  • Anne

    I am 54 in great shape, I broke my pinky toe two months ago. It has healed up, but it is still red and swollen. My doctor still confused why took a blood test. It came back normal but my blood sugar was 122. I do drink red wine every night with dinner and continue when I am watching my tv programs. Since I have not been near as active in the past two months because of my toe and have never had such a high bsl, do you think the swelling in my toe has something to do with prediabetes? Is 122 alarming?

  • acampbell

    Hi Anne,

    Any kind of injury or trauma to the body (including a broken toe) can cause blood glucose levels to increase. Also, if you are predisposed to getting diabetes, an injury, plus a decrease in activity may cause blood glucose levels to increase. A blood glucose of 122 isn’t alarming, but my question to you is: Was this measured fasting (first thing in the morning before you ate or drank anything)? A fasting blood glucose of between 100 and 125 may signify prediabetes, but this test should be repeated on another day to confirm a diagnosis.

  • Erika

    I have Type 1 diabetes ( I was diagnosed at 13 and am now 31).
    My A1c levels have always been between 6-6.5 and I control my blood sugar very well. I take insulin and wear an insulin pump. I drink red wine about 3-4 times a week and have about 2 ( sometimes 3) glasses when I drink. I have no negative social side effects from drinking. My question is: What are the possible side effects on my body ( liver, kidneys, etc.) from drinking this much?


  • acampbell

    Hi Erika,

    Recommendations are to drink “in moderation,” which means no more than two drinks per day for men, and no more than one drink per day for women. Going beyond these amounts could possibly increase your risk for the following: sleep disruption, weight gain, liver damage (seen mostly in heavy drinkers), increase in the risk of some types of cancer (mouth, esophagus, pancreas, liver, breast), increase in blood pressure, fetal alcohol syndrome (in pregnant women). In terms of your diabetes, drinking alcohol can increase the risk of low blood glucose, especially if you drink on an empty stomach or if you drink after being physically active.

  • jennifer

    I was curious about the mood being effected by beer when someone has diabetes? My boyfriend drinks two days out of the week. he drinks about a 12 pack. sometimes he gets in these very irrational moods. (1 out of 10 times) its really weird, he is almost a different person and he is only 3 beers in(he is a big guy)so he is not drunk at this point. Can diabetics have mood swings when their sugar levels get low?

  • acampbell

    Hi Jennifer,

    Yes, definitely. Low blood glucose has a number of effects on the body, including mood alterations. I suspect that the combination of alcohol and low blood glucose is affecting your boyfriend. While it’s probably a good idea for him to cut back on his beer intake, he should at least be certain to eat food when he’s drinking and check his blood glucose more often to prevent or at least catch and treat low blood glucose.

  • Kimberly Kunkle

    Do you know why my Diabetic(non insulin)husband, loses control of his legs when he drinks alcohol??

  • acampbell

    Hi Kimberly,

    Depending on how much alcohol your husband is drinking, perhaps the alcohol is affecting his muscles to some extent. However, not being a doctor, I’d suggest that you ask your husband’s doctor this question.

  • beez

    Can i drink alcohol im diabetic i wad diagnosed in july but since then have gained control of it. My normal blood sugar is 80-98 and I’m not taking any medication at all for my sugar so is it safe for me to drink? Just wondering if can get drunk

  • jerry

    I am managing type II with diet and exercise. I started drinking one beer with almonds, walnuts, and cashews in the evening, my morning glucose levels have been about 15 points lower on average.
    Is this normal?

  • acampbell

    Hi beez,

    The main concern with drinking alcohol in someone with diabetes is the possible risk of low blood glucose. However, this isn’t really an issue for someone who is not taking diabetes medicine. That being said, the guidelines for alochol are no more than two drinks per day for men and no more than one drink per day for women. Alcohol contains calories and may worsen or lead to other health issues if too much is consumed. It’s always a good idea to ask your doctor if you can safely drink alcohol with diabetes.

  • acampbell

    Hi jerry,

    Yes, this is certainly possible. In many people with Type 2 diabetes, the liver releases glucose overnight. However, if the liver is busy “detoxifying” the alcohol from the beer that you drank earlier in the evening, it may not be releasing as much glucose as usual, accounting for your lower glucose readings the next morning. Also, the nuts that you are eating contain fat, and fat (when eating in small to moderate amounts) can also slow the rise in blood glucose. So, it’s possible that the beer and nuts are working together to lower your fasting glucose readings. Just keep an eye on portions, as the calories can quickly add up.

  • Nell McVeigh

    I am a type 2 diabetic. I follow Dr Steve Parker’s Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet. On this diet you can have 1 glass of red wine 4 to 6 oz. with dinner. I have on rare occasions had a margaretta and my blood sugar was low 2 hr after eating a low carb meal.

    I feel that if you eat low carb 1 alcoholic beverage with your meal will not hurt you. Those who take insulin however should be more careful.

  • Mara

    Im turning 18 on thursday and wanna go for my first drink . Im a type 1 diabetic , my blood sugars are usually around the 20’s but I really wanna go for my first drink but im scared my bsl levels mite go down heaps . Any advice ???

  • acampbell

    Hi Mara,

    Happy birthday! Your blood glucose levels seem to be running high (20 mmol/l is equal to 360 mg/dl). It’s unlikely that if you have one alcoholic drink you will have a low blood glucose. However, there is always a risk for low blood glucose when one takes insulin. I have two pieces of advice for you: If you do have an alcoholic beverage on your birthday, be sure to eat something (like your meal) with the drink. It’s a good idea for you to check your blood glucose after you drink alcohol to learn how it affects you. And second, work with your doctor and a diabetes educator to help you bring your blood glucose levels into a lower, safer range for you.

  • George Jones

    If l drink 1 glass whiskey my blood sugar gives me problems but if I drink 5 or 6 glasses of whiskey im all good how can i have 1 or2 and be alright.

  • acampbell

    Hi George,

    I’m not sure what kind of “problems” you’re referring to. And I don’t really have an explanation for why 5 or 6 glasses of whiskey is OK for you. But if you are having low blood glucose readings as a result of alcohol, I recommend two things: 1. Limit your whiskey intake to no more than two servings per day (a serving of whiskey is 1 1/2 ounces) and 2. Always eat something when you drink, particularly something that contains carbohydrate (bread, potato, rice, pasta, crackers, fruit, etc.). Alcohol can lower blood glucose too much if you don’t eat anything and if you take insulin or certain types of diabetes pills.

  • SteveO

    I am a Type 1(.5) insulin dependent diabetic with an alcoholic disposition. I drink about 3-4 nights a week, and sometimes drink 6-10 drinks (gluten free beer, scotch, bourbon, gin) in a sitting. My problem is not going low but going high. For a day or two after drinking too much, I will have high levels out of nowhere, and will sometimes need 10-30 units of insulin a day just to correct. Is this normal? Is this my liver dumping?

    Thanks in advance.

  • acampbell

    Hi SteveO,

    Not being a doctor, I can venture an educated guess that your body becomes resistant to the action of insulin, possibly due to alterations in your hormone levels after drinking that much alcohol. Short-term, alcohol can lead to low blood glucose, as you’re likely aware. Obviously, cutting back on alcohol is a wise thing to do, but in the meantime, make sure you eat when you drink alcohol and that you are checking your blood glucose often when you do drink.

  • Jesse Todd

    Ok so I just found out that I have diabetes and last night I checked my blood sugar and it was at 500. One of my friends talked me into a shot of E and J brandy . After about 4 shots (he was really persausive <—- spelling) I checked my blood sugar again and noticed that it had dropped to 450. Now I am not insulin dependent I take metforman and I have noticed that it does not help lower my blood sugar. Can anyone give me more info on this?

  • acampbell

    Hi Jesse,

    The real issue is your blood glucose. Blood glucose readings of 450 and 500 are extremely high and very serious, especially if they have been this high for a while. You need more medication, and possibly, insulin. Please call your doctor right away to discuss.

  • Maegi Mac, M.D. (retired)

    Hi all,
    I’ve ran across your site when I was searching for another Diabetes related (type 1) question. The one thing I’ve got to say up front is I admire the quality of the indivudual answering the questions I’ve read just now, acampbell has been very well wrtten & very accurate along with keeping in mind that if you are diabetic the best source of answers is your personal physician. Your doctor knows YOU and your history very well, at least if you’ve been diabetic for any length of time. If you take your sugars at regular intervals along with any time you suspect there could be a high or a low you are missing. Every diabetic particularly insulin dependent, type one, gets a kind of internal awareness when their sugar is high or low. I went through this with my sons. I’ve two sons who are both type one insulin dependent diabetics. My 23 year old was diagnosed at age 9 with a blood sugar on a routine doctors visit of over 700. The physician who WAS their family doctor received the results on a Friday afternoon but DID NOT let us know until late on Monday afternoon. We immediately rushed him to St Christophers Hospital for children & he was immediately admitted to ICU with a blood sugar of just over 890. My 18 year old was diagnosed at age 11 with the same thing type one insulin dependent diabetes. I suspected what was going on (my 23 yr old had NO SYMPTOMS of any kind)however my 18yr old who in the past if you told him to just drink water rather than run for a high sugar soft drink began drinking water like he’d been in the desert and was drinking like water was going out of style. He was also in the bathroom every half hour to an hour almost around the clock. These are classic symptoms of type one diabetes, along with weightloss and lethargy. He started drinking like this etc., and when it continued over 24 hours I used his brothers glucose monitor to check his sugar. It was 170, borderline if he’d just eaten a couple of candy bars but I know he hadn’t been eating at all so I thought time to go see the doctor. When we had those results (a stat blook sugar an a SMAC 21 & a number of other tests which would give a better picture of what was going-on because his symptoms, while unlikely due to his age, could be caused by another condition (I couldn’t shut my head off I was so upset which is why doctors should NOT treat family members unless there is no other help available) but I’m not an endocrineologist, I’m retired from geriatric medicine due to retinitis pigmentosa, genetic & at least 11 members of my family between my mothers generation and my own. No one on my fathers side of the family has ever been diagnosed with it, only on my mothers side. The same is true of type 1 diabetes which is on my fathers side. My fathers eldest sister died from the condition at age 57. Diagnosed in 1920 there was no treatment for Diabetes & diagnosis of the disease was an automatic death sentence.
    Insulin was discovered in 1922 but did not become the standard for treatment until 1936 when it was finally discovered diabetes was actually two totally seperate disease processes, type one diabetic’s where the pancreas produces no insulin at all, although the debate about how the disease becomes evident continues. Some claim type one diabetes if primarily genetic in origin or others believe there was one disease process or another which flipped the switch & turning on the disease. Others believe type two is more likely to be genetic in origin & may be treated in a different way. Well, my family is the exception and not the rule. All rules aside, my Aunt passed away from type one diabetes at the age of 57. Her kidneys were just destroyed by the condition & she had to go for dialysis 4 days a week, there were also problems with her feet & she developed serious infections & eventually had first her feet amputated, a few yrs later her one leg had to be amputated just below the knee & only a few months later the other leg was amputatedn above the knee as she developed gangreen. Every so often she would often lose a finger tip of the frst few joints on her fingers but this didn’t get to the point the hand needed to be amputated.
    She had also developed diabetic retinitis and had lost her vision. She was a brave lady and went through hell but still fought it to the end. She took some college courses thanks to her husband who should be sainted since he took her everywhere, took notes for her in class & did everything for her which thankfully allowed her to die at home with her family around her.
    I wanted to share this, particularly to the folks who said they were Insulin dependent diabetics who admitted they were alcoholic’s. I’ve seen so much of this disease just from family members as well as in practice (although most of my patients were type 2 diabetic’s) & I can see how horrible this disease can get. Please, if you are alcoholic get help now as you are just courting all the things I shared above. Alcohol addiction is serious & after a point there is permanent physical dammage anywhere from liver damage to brain damage & you don’t even have to be diabetic to get these complications. Put diabetes into the picture & you’ll be seriously shortening your life. I’ve seen this in two of my patients & both passed away within a few years as they din’t take it seriously but had they properly treated their diabetes and stopped drinking both of them could have lived at least 10yrs longer than they did.
    I apologize for the length of this post but there is so many ways diabetic’s can develop complications in my opinion is the same as playing Russian Roulette with your life if you add alcohol into the mix with diabetes.
    God Bless All & Be Well,

  • Jason


    Is the drink worth it? That’s what you have to ask yourself…is it worth the risk of accelerated nerve damage, liver damage, and loss of vision? Think of the people you’d be negatively affecting if your addiction continues…
    I’m in the same boat as a lot of you where I know I shouldn’t drink alcohol but I continue to because I’m “in the mood” to do it regardless of knowing it’s killing me. I was diagnosed with diabetes 8 months ago and I’ve since lost 45lbs and have been happier than ever. The only thing chipping away at me is small amounts of alcohol I consume out of habit and social circumstance. I’ve always been a casual drinker and have binged on occasion but now it affects me and my circle of friends/family more than ever and with every extra drink. I know it’s not that big of a deal but I’ve had enough. Today I did some research about the health effects of alcohol on diabetics and that article came up. VERY eye opening and it’s based on controlled tests with hard evidence that alcohol is shortening our lives! Reading all these replies about diabetics like myself continuing to drink is even more sad to me than alcoholism alone because of the increased risk factors for so many complications associated with diabetes…it’s time to make a change if you’re reading this and you feel like I do.

    My father and his father have been slaves to alcohol. I have been for over 8 years. It’s quite sad that a chemical controls so many people. Despite knowing it’s killing me, I’ve given in to the casual alcohol drinking. It’s not worth it!
    Alcohol causes greater complications for diabetics than we know. Read this article and let’s make a change!

    -Peripheral Neuropathy – loss of feeling and sensation in extremities is caused by ALCOHOL and DIABETES
    -Impotence and Retinopathy as well are worsened by Alcohol consumption

    We got this, it’s all a choice! You have a choice, always remember that!

    God Bless

    • richie

      I drink lot’s of alcohol as a type 1 diabetic (only beer), but i also eat very healthy and work out every other day (free weights), and my a1c’s are usually in the 5 to 5.5 ratio, so my blood sugar is essentially perfect and as good as it can possibly be for a type 1 diabetic. i don’t think i should suffer any diabetic complications if i maintain those low blood glucose numbers, but of course alcohol is VERY damaging to the nervous system and to the liver, so I would not be too surprised if you are in fact correct. the most important thing for diabetics is keeping your blood sugar as close to normal as possible, i think if you do that then drinking a bit should’nt hurt you too much (as long as it’s beer or wine you drink because hard alcohol has no positives…)!

  • NEL

    My husband is a diabetic since he was 17 years old (he’s now 59). He works overseas and is home once a month. I wonder why he never mentions having seizures due to low blood sugar when he is overseas but he does when he is here. He drinks 10-12 16 oz. beers from 5 to 8 PM everyday. Once he is ready to sleep, he takes 2 pckgs of alka seltzer in addition to all his prescribed medications (high blood pressure and others). Just by looking at him on his daily routine makes me sick.

    He keeps telling me he’ll loose weight and stop drinking. Not sure why he keeps saying it but I don’t think that’s the correct way to do it. I only ask him to keep finding jobs away from home (he’ll anyway as he never consults me) because I feel he wants to be away to do who knows what and then coming home to be sick. It hurts me to see that behavior. We are responsible for our health and appearance. Cannot believe what he is doing to himself and to our relationship.

    Sorry for writing here, just feel sorry for those with a spouse like mine and proud for those doing their best to stay healthy.

  • acampbell

    Hi NEL,

    Your husband’s situation is understandably very hard on you. He may be having seizures when he’s overseas, but it’s possible he’s not aware of them, especially if they’re occurring during the night. Unfortunately, you can’t control his behavior (or lack of it) but you can be sure to take good care of yourself and find support. Consider joining Al-Anon or finding a similar source of ongoing support.

  • Hemantkumar

    Dear Amy,

    5 days before i came know that i have diabetes, i.e. fasting 168 and after fasting 189, which shows high remark.

    Before this testing for all most 2.5 months i did not drink alcoholic drink at all, but now i feel like drinking. Can you suggest as if i have to drink once in a month, can you please suggest, as how much must be the quantity i should consume.

    Do i consume Wishky or beer? and how much.


  • acampbell

    Hi Hemantkumar,

    It would be best to discuss drinking alcohol with your doctor. However, most people with diabetes can safely drink alcohol; certainly, one drink per month is likely OK. In general, one drink, or one serving of alcohol is 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine or 1 1/2 ounces of distilled spirits, such as whiskey, rum, or gin. Avoid or limit sweetened alcoholic drinks like pina coladas, or margaritas.

  • Ken Orland

    My fasting glucose last year was 120, last week it was 110. I had been having White Russians every night. My A1C is normal. I stopped drinking,started eating more fish and salads and trying to exercise at least 3 days a week. Do you have any suggestions?

  • acampbell

    Hi Ken,

    First, great job on all the lifestyle changes that you’ve made! Second, keep in mind that fasting blood glucose levels can vary every day. It’s great that it was 110 last week, but what’s likely more helpful and more indicative of your average blood glucose levels is your A1C level. The A1C is an average measure of your blood sugars over the past three months. You mentioned that yours was “normal” so it certainly sounds like you’re on the right track. You didn’t mention if you have diabetes or not, however. White Russians are high in both calories and carbohydrates, so it was a wise decision to stop drinking them. My suggestion is to continue as you’re doing. Perhaps try to increase your exercise to more days each week and be sure to incorporate some strength training, using hand weights, resistance bands or machines at the gym. Doing so will strengthen your muscles and help you burn more calories.

  • arzel

    I’m also a diabetic patient. I was diagnosed with diabetes 5 years ago, taking gliclazide pill control my blood sugar to rise and it has no side effect to my body whatsover. Taking too much alcohol is not good to any person even you are not a diabetic patient. But if you take it in moderation, I think it helps a lot to regulate your blood circulation in your body, also to warm the body and avoid muscular defects because of enough circulation of blood especially in lower part of the body…I would suggest 1 tossed of brandy is enough before bedtime. And for people who have erectile dysfunction…brandy is good but dont take it too much.

  • PGroce

    Hi I have been diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes for the past two years. I am on metformin 2 pills a day and 1 tradgenta daily. My normal fasting sugar level is 139,but lately it has been fluctuating. Being 153 to 186 in the am. I started to exercise again I have always watched my diet. Since Dec 2013 been thru a lot sprained my ankle, in a cast for 2 months, trying to find a job, relative nearly died etc. I do drunk red wine at dinner Per the Doctor I should take my meds after my meal. My first question is should I wait until I finish my wine at dinner before I take my meds. Second question I am on edge with my stress, I sleep long hrs but my mind is always going thru my thoughts. Could the stress also contribute to my high fasting. My after noon sugar can be from 90 to 110. I am only 10lbs overweight. Any advice?

  • acampbell

    Hi PGroce,

    I’m not sure that it matters whether you finish drinking your wine before you take your diabetes medicines. However, for many people, metformin is taken before a meal to lessen any possible side effects (nausea, diarrhea, etc.). Tradjenta can be taken with or without food. It’s certainly possible that stress could be affecting your higher fasting blood glucose, although it likely would be affecting all of your readings, not just your fastings. Assuming that you’re not snacking excessively after dinner, what also may be happening is that your liver is putting out too much glucose overnight. I’d suggest that you talk with your doctor about your high fasting readings and come up with a plan as to how to best address them. You may need a higher dose of your medicine; if you’re already on the maximum dose, you might benefit from an injectable medicine called a GLP-1 agonist (Byetta, Victoza) or possibly a bedtime dose of long-acting insulin, such as Lantus or Levemir. In the meantime, see if you can focus on your stress and ways to better manage it.

  • madhuri susvirkar

    Hey my best frn was recently diagnosed with diabetes. Am worried because we work as per US shifts n so have hectic schedule n long working hours. At least twice a week drinking plan is in his schedule. Is consuming black rum OK for him. If no is red OK. Request you advise how we can balance alcohol n which type of alcohol is advisable.

  • madhuri susvirkar

    I meant red wine in the earlier comment. Is that OK to consume if black rum with Coke is not an option.

  • A. Campbell

    Hi madhuri,

    Without knowing too much about your friend or the extent of his diabetes control, I would say that red wine is a better option. Another choice would be rum and Diet Coke. However, it’s very important that he eat something if he drinks alcohol. And, the guidelines for alcohol use for men are no more than two drinks per day.

  • vishal watane

    i am type 2 diabetic patient can i drink diet whisky which comes in market for diabetic patient . will if effect my sugar level

  • A Campbell

    Hi vishal,

    I’m not familiar with “diet whiskey.” Whiskey, in general, does not contain any carbohydrate. But if you drink whiskey mixed with something like soda or fruit juice, then you would get carbohydrate. As I mentioned in my posting, above, alcohol can sometimes lower blood sugar if you drink on an empty stomach and/or if you take insulin or certain types of diabetes pills. While it’s best to check with your doctor, most people with diabetes can safely drink alcohol if they limit themselves to one to two drinks per day and eat something when having a drink.

  • Samantha Woolf

    What can happen to someone who has hypoglycemia (glucose level of 22mg/dL) and an alcohol level of .29 if they get hit in the head.

  • Lynne

    This may seem a strange forum to ask a question as I am not diagnosed diabetic but do have me/cfs. Four nights ago I wakened felling very sick with bad stomach pains, several hours later I was sick, shallow breathing, dizzy , light headed, very thirsty and mumbling. As I had had a urine infection several months ago I tested it with a test strip. It showed I had ketones in my urine but no glucose. I had all the symptoms of ketoacidosis but after I took some d ribose I started to feel a bit better. I follow a very healthy lifestyle, high protein, low carb hardly any sugar and appropriate medication to help my mitochondria heal. I had wine on Fri, Sat and Sun as it was Easter (don’t normally drink much) but nothing on the Monday. Should I be checked out by a doctor as I’m not sure how significant the ketones were in my urine but I certainly felt awful. I’m still very lethargic although my stomach’s fine now along with no ketones in urine.

  • richie

    I drink 3 or 4 nights a week, sometimes more, sometimes less and have about 5 beers on those occasions and I am a Type 1 diabetic, as long as you eat a certain amount of carbs while drinking and before going to bed you should be fine. I usually eat about 50 carbs while drinking and that usually allows me to have a near perfect blood glucose number the next morning. (Chips and crackers and things like that seem to work better than anything sugary, as sugary foods tend to spike your blood sugar then plummet afterwards) But being that we are diabetics and we are at a higher risk for virtually every type of cancer of the abdomen (liver, pancreatic, stomach, etc…diabetics all have higher risks of developing these than non-diabetics) it probably is not a good idea to be an alcoholic and a diabetic…

  • cassanra

    my sister is a type 1 diebetic an im wanting to know if u drink beer or whiskey can u get keytones

    • acampbell

      Hi cassanra,
      In general, drinking alcohol tends to have a blood sugar-lowering effect, depending on how much one drinks. Ketones are usually formed when there isn’t enough insulin and blood sugar levels get too high. So, unless your sister isn’t taking her insulin, it’s unlikely that alcohol would lead to ketone formation.

  • JLS

    My spouse drinks several shots of whiskey along with beer every nihgt. Jis blood sugar is sometimes 40. He takes insulin. I am very worried about the alcoholism with diabetes, but cannot do anything. Fear it will kil him. What kind of prognosis would you offer?

    • acampbell

      Hi JLS,
      I can certainly understand your concern, and alcoholism aside, the fact that your spouse’s blood sugars go low is worrisome. I’ll assume that you’ve spoken with him about your fears and concerns. Hopefully he understands that you care about him and want to make sure he’s safe. Is he willing to speak to his doctor or seek help for his use of alcohol? If not, I might suggest talking to his doctor yourself, especially regarding his diabetes, and come up with a game plan as to how you can help him, especially to minimize the lows. You might also look into a support program for yourself, such as Al-Anon. And perhaps some of our other readers have suggestions for how they’ve coped with a similar situation.

  • Charbie

    I’m type 1 diabetic I don’t even know who I am sometimes after a night of drinking but I’m still fine just force your daughter sugar and she will be fine. It only happens when I drink and have s3x normally because how much I move my bed from one side to the other that’s y I carb up b4 I go to bed now but I know it’s hard to get people to eat sometimes

  • jackiehammack

    my mother drinks beer to make her sleep when she gets tired she talks nonsense

    • SockPuppet

      that’s called “being drunk”

  • Phillip Ryan Sandusky

    Hurry, call 911 you kidding me? Didn’t you read the instruction manual that popped out of your uterus right after your daughter?

  • becamore

    How does alcohol lower blood glucose level in a type 1 diabetic patient in a more in depth level?
    You mentioned it is because liver is too busy detoxifying the body, that it doesn’t convert the glycogen to glucose? or it doesn’t produce glucose?

  • MusicalWife

    My husband is a type 2 diabetic. He is a binge drinker. He drinks about 15-18 beers twice a week. In the summer its worst. Anyway, he used to take insulin and I just found out last night that he stopped taking insulin about a month ago. He is also an excessive smoker, say 2 packs a day. Like all worried wives, I did my fair share of talking to him about the danger of smoking, drinking and being diabetic. To no avail, he continued his usual vice. All my efforts fell on deaf ears. He gave up, but I’m not. Unfortunately, he schedules his doctor’s appointment when I am at work. He won’t let me talk to his doctor, but I am doing it anyway today. He is an active man, he likes to do outside chores, but I know exercise is not enough since he doesn’t follow a strict diabetes diet plan. He gets mad at me if there’s no mashed potato or if we have no dessert. Yes, he is a loose cannon but I love him. At the same time I am worried of losing him. I’ve been researching these deadly combination of smoking, drinking and diabetes, and hopefully I will learn something from everyone here.

    • Maia

      He needs to slow down I’ve been a type 1 Diabetic since 1978 got it when I was 3 1/2 years old I’m now 41
      I spent the last 20+ years of my life a very heavy drinker 7 days a week I had all the blood vessels in both my eyes burst and bleed even when id have a operation laser sugary etc. That night id be around at mates houses bandaged eye drinking and partying in the end eyes bleed into front gels in front of your pupil etc. And had to have them surgically removed I also have slight leaking kidneys as well due to the extreme amount of sugar that alcohol has in it I gave it away at 39 I said to myself if I don’t make changes now I’m going to become very sick or possibly die well before my time.I do miss it from time to time but can quite easily drink water or orange juice in a pub with friends now I think the biggest hurtle is you have to want to do it yourself people think because you don’t show signs of ill health on outside you are normal but trust me from experience he’s destroying himself from the inside out if he carries on I hope you can be successful in helping him and wish you all the best.

    • Maia


      He needs to slow down I’ve been a type 1 Diabetic since 1978 got it when I was 3 1/2 years old I’m now 41

      I spent the last 20+ years of my life a very heavy drinker 7 days a week I had all the blood vessels in both my eyes burst and bleed even when id have a operation laser sugary etc. That night id be around at mates houses bandaged eye drinking and partying in the end eyes bleed into front gels in front of your pupil etc. And had to have them surgically removed I also have slight leaking kidneys as well due to the extreme amount of sugar that alcohol has in it I gave it away at 39 I said to myself if I don’t make changes now I’m going to become very sick or possibly die well before my time.I do miss it from time to time but can quite easily drink water or orange juice in a pub with friends now I think the biggest hurtle is you have to want to do it yourself people think because you don’t show signs of ill health on outside you are normal but trust me from experience he’s destroying himself from the inside out if he carries on I hope you can be successful in helping him and wish you all the best.

    • Craig Smith

      Is he blind yet? I worked with Ophthalmologists, and the only guarantee I ever heard them give a patient was smoking and diabetes will blind you.

  • Sarah Cormier

    I’m sarah, I’ve been Type 1 diabetic for about two years now.. I always hear that drinking with diabetes can lower blood sugar. So one night I went to a party and became curious and decided to grab a beer. I was expecting my blood sugar to drop , I had eaten 1-2 hours previously to this because it’s never good to drink on an empty stomach. So I had only taken a few sips of a bud light because again I didn’t really know what I was getting into so I was being cautious. I decided to check my sugar about 20 mins after that and it was in the 400s.. after I seen that I put the beer down and had water the rest of the night. Eventually it had gone down. Can someone please explain this to me? Is it because the beer had carbs/sugars or something I did wrong? What can I do next time to assure that it doesn’t happen again

  • Sarah Cormier

    Okay so I’ve been diabetic for about two years now. I always hear that alcohol lowers blood sugar so I went to a party with my friends and became curious, I decided to grab a Bud Light. Now keep in mind that I had eaten one to two hours previously to grabbing the alcohol because I know it’s never good to drink one empty stomach. I had only took a few sips of beer and being the fact that this was my first time drinking since I got diagnosed I was extra cautious and checked my blood sugar about 20 to 30 minutes after the few sips and my blood sugar was in the 400s.. can someone please explain to me how this happened or what I might’ve done wrong,so this doesn’t happen in the future.could it be the alcohol I chose or just something else please let me know, thanks in advance.

    • trep mendous

      beer has carbs!!! if you are going to drink, drink alcohol (tequila, vodka etc) not beer.

  • rad

    Thanks for the information.. my brother is typ 1 diabetic.. is it fine if he drinks beer?

    • I know plenty of people with Type 1 who drink beer (including myself). It’s fine enough, as long as you understand what’s going on in the body and take precautions to avoid hypoglycemia.