Alcoholism and Diabetes

Many experts have described addiction as an illness. Just like any chronic illness, addiction needs to be managed over time. It does not have a cure and therefore its symptoms need to be controlled. Addiction is also considered to be an illness because it can reoccur if a recovering addict is not careful. And like addiction, diabetes is an illness that can have severe effects on one’s health.

Diabetes is an illness in which the body does not have the ability to produce any or enough insulin which can cause elevated levels of glucose in the blood. If glucose levels get too high, it can severely impair other organs in the body. In addition to both being an illness, diabetes and alcohol addiction do have a direct relationship. For instance, a person who drink alcohol excessively may later develop diabetes and continuing to drink even after one has been diagnosed with diabetes can make the illness worse.

Regardless of the type of diabetes, alcohol can impair one’s healing and make one’s condition worse. There are three types of diabetes:

Type 1: A person with this illness is dependent upon insulin. Their pancreas is not making enough insulin and therefore a person needs to take the hormone insulin on a regular basis. This illness usually gets diagnosed when a person is still in their childhood and it requires the regular use of insulin shots or an insulin pump in order to control blood sugar levels.

Type 2: This type of diabetes is often diagnosed later in one’s life. Although the pancreas might have produced insulin earlier in one’s life, it now produces too little or the cells have become resistant to insulin. This type of diabetes is frequently the result of making too many poor choices regarding food and alcohol intake. Those with this type of diabetes take medication versus insulin shots.

Gestational Diabetes: This type of diabetes is temporary and usually experienced by women who are pregnant.

It is unlikely that alcohol addiction would cause type 1 diabetes. However, there is evidence that suggests that alcoholism can lead to type 2 diabetes. Among many health concerns that alcoholism causes (such as impotence, irregular menstrual cycles, stroke, confusion, and amnesia), alcoholism can also lead to pancreatitis. Furthermore, regular use of alcohol can contribute to glucose intolerance as well as obesity, which are both linked to type 2 diabetes.

If you are experiencing an addiction to alcohol and you’re concerned about developing diabetes, look for the following signs:

  • Unexplained weight loss
  • Fatigue
  • Frequent thirst
  • Passing excessive amounts of urine
  • Wounds that take a long time to heal
  • Recurrent infections
  • Often feeling hungry
  • Irritability
  • Frequent skin, gum, or bladder infections
  • Blurry vision

Of course, any of these symptoms alone may not be an indicator of diabetes. However, if you have two or more of these signs, contact a medical doctor right away. Furthermore, if you are using alcohol on a regular basis, contact a mental health provider for support.


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