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October 14, 2001


Question from Toms River, New Jersey, USA:

I am a 20 year old who has type 1 diabetes, and I have some questions about using alcohol and marijuana. About six months ago, I started to notice that if I consume alcohol, there is a very good chance I will wet the bed if I fall asleep drunk. is there any connection with my diabetes, say high or low blood sugar? I usually will take a shot before I drink to ward of the affects of sugar in beer, but it's usually a guessing game I have yet to master. What effects do beer and marijuana have on the body as far as affecting the way insulin is used and sugars are broken down? I am not looking for advice about the drugs themselves, because I do not use nearly enough for there to be a problem, but I just like to be well informed for my own safety.


Any drug that causes you to lose control and become disoriented has potential harm. The reason is that you cease to be in control of yourself, unable to determine whether symptoms of decreased ability to think are caused by a severe low blood sugar or the drugs themselves. For instance, alcohol, from all types of beverages, causes several changes in your blood sugar over time on the same day. The initial beverage, with its carbohydrates, will raise your blood sugars. Then, four hours later, the drug effect of the alcohol causes the blood sugars to go low. The insulin you take with the initiation of drinking may not be the best thing to do if it causes the low later on to be even lower. The biggest concern here is that waking up incontinent means you either filled your bladder and didn’t wake up to urinate or you could even have had a seizure, not recognizing it when you were asleep. This is very serious stuff and I would recommend you think about how to stay in control and take care of yourself.