Windfal - Tricky Situations - Alcohol - Introduction
Objective: To develop skills to cope with the different effects of alcoholic drinks

Drinking alcohol can be a really tricky situation. First two general points:
  • If you are going out for a drink, make sure one of your friends knows about your diabetes. If you have a hypo, your behaviour can be affected and it can seem to onlookers that you are drunk. So if you have a hypo, your friend should be there and able to help you.
  • It is recommended that women should drink no more than 2 units each day and men no more that 3 units each day, with 2 - 3 alcohol free days each week.
Alcoholic drinks can have a variable affect on your blood glucose. This is because of two important points:
  • Alcohol itself, in large amounts, can increase the risk of hypo for up to 24 hours. Alcohol is processed in the liver and can interfer with the glucose release from the liver if the blood glucose levels are falling.
  • Alcoholic drinks vary hugely in the amount of carbohydrate they contain. Just think of the difference in sugar content between a spirit (such as vodka) and alcopops.
So what strategies can you use?
  • Eat some carbohydrate before or with alcohol. Ideally, drink while having a meal.
  • You may need a snack before bed after drinking alcohol in the evening.
  • You may need to reduce your bedtime long acting insulin.
  • Try to avoid drinking on an empty stomach.
  • Try to remember how much carbohydrate there is in certain alcoholic drinks. But consider that all the other things that can affect your blood glucose level will still be important. For example, if you are going to be dancing all evening, that exercise will still impact on your blood glucose, even if you are drinking sugary alcoholic drinks.

Ultimately you will need to experiment a little. Just remember these strategies and see what works for you.

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But remember there is more information in the 'Quiz'. Come on, you know you want to try it!

Page last updated: 20 Aug 2021
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