21st birthday next weekend... need advice

I need some advice on what I should do about drinking with diabetes.First you should know, I've never drank before so I know nothing about alcohol. So I'm really excited for my birthday next weekend and me and some friends are going to a few local bars, but I guess I want to make sure I manage the diabetes as best I can. I have had diabetes 2.5 years and like I said, I know nothing about alcohol so any advice on what i should do would be great. I'm on an insulin pump, if that matters. I'm worried about drinking with diabetes because of things I've heard that can happen, but the people i'm going with know I'm diabetic and my boyfriend will be with me  and he said he will be sure my blood sugars are checked often.

So... yeah. Advice? Drink recommendations? lol


I try to keep alcohol consumption pretty low, so I probably won't be much help.. but moderation is key!! I know that might be hard with it being your 21st birthday and all, but if at all possible, don't go overboard. I found that figuring out how different types of alcohol affect my blood sugar took some experimenting and some trial and error.

Of course, I try to stay away from the sugar-loaded drinks like margaritas. Beer seems to affect me much like any carb does, so I often bolus for beer as if I'm eating a piece of a bread. I like drinks with few carbs/sugar like rum and diet coke or vodka and diet tonic water with lime. They are kinda "blah" but at least I know my sugar won't be through the roof.

As long as you keep tabs on your blood sugar (even after you're done drinking for the night since the effects of alcohol on blood sugar can take a while before they happen), you should be just fine :) Have fun and happy birthday!!

There are times that I drink a lot with my friends.So I can give you what it does to me but my doctor always tell that alcohol can create very different effects on different individual diabetes.

My advice is that you should start moderately , like a 33cl beer or a glass of wine and try to link them with coke , 7up or something.

My Characteristic:

-Beer:Increases b.s. in the short run but decreases suddenly after a while . If you feel nauseous without drinking a lot , check your blood sugar.Because you may end up vomiting.Low blood sugar with alcohol is not good , never forget that.

-Wine,whiskey:Increase in the short but not in a similar way to regular drinks.I don't remember it making sudden drops .

-Vodka:Also does sudden drops in b.s similar to beer but not as crucial as the beer.

Try not to drink cocktails until you get a knowledge about their ingredient.

Also knowing the main ingredient of the alcohol is important , like wine-grape , beer-barley , vodka-potato or rye , rum -candy cane and goes on.Briefly they are all coming from carb.family but they act different when distilled into alcohol.Those sudden drops are occuring because of that.

Another thing is that , alcohol drinks doesn't directly increase my blood sugar similar to a regular soft drink.A 7up gives around 100 increment but alcohol generally has a lower increment forsame litres of consumption.

Always keep that in mind , these happen in my case ,as it is your first time , it is important to understand how it effects your blood sugar , you can think of it as an experiment.Adjust the input and observe the output.

Unfortunately I probably made some bad decisions concerning alcohol and my diabetes through college.  Actually, link diabetes and anything through college and I would say I did a very poor job of managing it.  So I guess from that at least I can help others make some better decisions.  I would say to you that if you have never drank before it would be a really good idea to drink in moderation.  I never liked the taste of beer so I can't tell you much about that.  Honestly I always liked some of the sweeter drinks (like martinis and mixed drinks, or even malted beverages like Bacardi or Smirnoff), and they tended to raise my bloodsugar but then drop later.  Wine tends to raise my bs slightly but not too bad.  Maybe you could start there.  It's great that your friends and boyfriend are supportive too.  You sound like you're in good hands.  Have fun and take care!

First happy birthday!!  Second, I drink on the occasion and have also had some 'wild nights' of 'OMG WHY did we do this again' next mornings.  I definitely agree that moderation is key.  Don't go crzay--especially if it's your first time. Bulut, I love how you broke it all down and now it makes so much more sense why at my bachelorette party after two or three glasses of wine, three shots of So Co, and three beers had my sugars simply reading 'Hi' and then plummetting a few hours later. 

Anyhow, I definitely have learned, Lately I try to stick to wine and have noticed my sugars will be high (about 200--I normally eat when I (start to) drink), about two hours post meal.  I will test another two hours after my two hour post meal (for a total of four hours) and have noticed that I am usually right around normal (98, 102, 123) are the ones I recall having. I have noticed that in the morning, depending on how much I drink I can be normal or slightly low (68). 

Of course, each alcohol is different and each person's effect can be too.  I  have noticed that I will plummet with beer, and hard liquor and usually can snack pretty well (no insulin) to avoid it.  Often times, I can be low in the morning (48, 52).

I hope you have a fun and safe night and a great time with your most loved ones.  Just remember--never get too obliterated to take care of yourself, afterall--you're the expert.

Melissa! Happy Bday!

Dlife has some good tips about drinking with diabetes, here is the link. http://www.dlife.com/diabetes/information/daily_living/diabetes_alcohol/?gclid=CPG7kLSy3qUCFeFw5QodWhWl0g

The Candian Diabetes Association advises to eat carbs while you drink to prevent you going low later. You're sugars will go high but it's supposed to prevent a crash later. And I was told to set an alarm to wake me up in the middle of my sleep so I can check my blood sugar to see if I'm going low.   And don't count the alcohol as carbs! You don't take insulin for alcohol. And don't forget that if you're going to be dancing at the bars you need to eat extra carbs.

Hope that info helps.

[quote user="Cor"]

 And don't count the alcohol as carbs! You don't take insulin for alcohol.


I would agree with this.  Your BS will go up, but it will also give you a little cushion when it drops like a rock like it will.  It's nice that your friends will be there watching out for you while you're drinking, but when you really need them will be next 12 hours or so after you're done drinking.  Waking up to test is probably not a bad idea.  If you get a little carried away, be very careful for the next 24 - 48 hours because you still may go low quickly.  When I used to drink and this happened it was the really sweaty shaky kind of low.  When I woke up in the morning low, it was the don't know where you are or who you are kind of low.

Really my advice would be go easier on the insulin and eat before you go to bed.  In my experience, it is possible to drink alcohol and stay alive with diabetes, but it's almost impossible to drink alcohol and maintain good control while drinking.  If you only drink 1 or 2 drinks with food etc. you'll probably be OK.  After that, good luck.

Happy Birthday !!

It all depends what you drink. My 21st was..well I don't remember all of it, but needless to say I drank a ton, woke up the next morning (still drunk) and I think my glucose was somewhere around 70. I was drinking mostly beer and jager.

Just be smart about it and make sure your bring your glucometer with you if you're planning on waking up in a dumpster or somewhere that isn't your bedroom.

Have an awesome 21st and don't let diabetes get in the way of a good time :)

I've found that alcohol can effect diabetics in two different ways. 1) lowers your blood sugars or 2) raises your blood sugars. For me it lowers my blood sugars, particularly if im dancing around and  being active. The best way to tackle it is to always be aware of what your blood sugars are doing by testing all the time. Because alcohol makes me go low i tend to not cover the carbs in the drinks with insulin and let my blood sugar run a little higher over the night, if they lower i eat some carbs with out bolosing. It can also effect your blood sugars hours after you finish drinking, sorta when you're ready for bed, what works for me is setting a temporary basal on my pump of around 70% and eating 15g of carbs to cover me over the night. Its all just trial and error :)

Happy birthday and have heaps of fun! Drink as much as you feel comfortable with :)

Everyone's body is different.  For me, beer raises my BS for the whole night into the next day.  The sweet drinks, raise it, then drop it.  I usually drink two shots and then have a diet soda or a bag of pretzels too.  I always check my blood at least every hour if I'm drinking.  The most I drink in one night if I'm out is at least 1 or 2 shots and 1 glass of wine.  Just take it easy and drink in moderation.  Another good thing about the pretzels is help absorb the alcohol.

oh drinking and diabetes.  the good news is that a lot of us have done the leg work for you!!! 

I've tried it all - in moderation and also gone a little overboard in some instances.  nowadays, i know that at a bar i can order a bacardi and seltzer with lime and still maintain control. 

beer raises my sugar slightly and then i drop like a brick by the time morning comes. 

if you've never drank (drunk?) alcohol before, i would imagine it will only take a few drinks for you to feel a little fuzzy...so the effects on your blood sugar might be minimal.  have a little fun, and test the waters.  next time you drink, you'll be able to play around with your basals and increase while drinking, and then decrease overnight to offset the iminent lows.

And i didn't know this back in my college days, but i read somewhere that your emergency glucagon doesn't do anything for you if there is alcohol in your system.  so avoid the low low lows! 

be careful.  have fun.  dance the night away!


Let us know how it goes!

Hi Melissa,

We have some info on the JDRF website about this here: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=C7FE73AE-2A5E-7B6E-105C456C402FD4B4 and here: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=home.viewPage&page_id=C801E15D-2A5E-7B6E-10887FB92A037278.  There's also a whole type 1 diabetes and college section you might want to take a look at in general: http://www.jdrf.org/index.cfm?page_id=103581

Happy birthday!

These are the things I make sure I do when I drink

1. Make sure that the people you are with know that you are diabetic and know what to do if you are low, high, pass out, maybe even make sure someone knows how to check your blood sugar if you can't

2. Test your blood sugar! I know it's hard when you are having fun to stop and test, but really it's the easiest way to understand how alcohol affects you personally.

3. If you don't feel well and your friends are encouraging you to drink more, don't let them pressure you into doing anything you don't want to, you know your body and your health and your diabetes better than you do. Follow your gut, most of the time it's right!

I would recommend for you since you haven't drank before is to go easy on it. Don't take shots! It's really hard to judge how much is in the shot and if you don't know what you are drinking you probably don't know what's in it. Since this is your first time drinking you probably won't like beer which is the easiest thing to drink because it's easy to count carbs.

As a drink recommendation, any type of Smirnoff Ice you'll probably like. They are fruity and girly for those who are just starting out :) And most of them only have about 30 carbohydrates in them. My personal favorites are the raspberry and mango, they are the less sweet of the choices. But they have green apple, grape, watermelon, and pomegranate if you like any of those flavors.

Happy Birthday and have fun! :)

Hi Melissa!

When I was on the cusp of turning 21, I had asked my endocrinologist at the time for advice.

He told me to drink, test and keep your stomach full of starches (since I wasn't a beer drinker). Liquor has a way of tricking our bodies into thinking we are fine with the more we drink, but if you don't eat, you can actually go low.

If you are drinking sugary drinks or beer, be sure to test. Listen to your body and make sure your insulin pump is heard, understood and acknowledged.

Also, DON'T MIX ALCOHOL! Don't overdo it! I've heard a rumor that diabetics don't get hangovers, which I've never experienced, but just don't do it.


First off! You're gonna be fine, and you're gonna have a great time! (AND HAPPY BIRTHDAY!)

The big danger of drinking and diabetes is going low and having your friends just think you're drunk and passed out. Your boyfriend already knows better, so you'll just check a couple times during the night and then maybe around 4 or 5 in the morning just to make sure you're okay:)

And I think the checking is more so you know, and i figure if you're able to check your blood sugar it also means you're not a total mess! And drinking is fun but being sloppy is, you know, less fun!


I don't really believe that alcohol LOWERS your blood sugar. It's INSULIN that is lowering your blood sugar. So. When you drink alcohol your liver is SO BUSY processing and filtering it... that it doesn't have time to turn your sugars into energy (even if you give yourself an insulin shot). So what'll happen is you'll go high (from a sugary drink or food and from your liver being "busy") and then you'll go low (from your liver and insulin finally kicking in).

So what I do is :

  1. I make sure I eat before hand, but not too SOON before hand. (I try for about 3 hours). I don't want to have much Insulin On Board once I start drinking. If you don't eat before hand you'll get drunk REALLY quickly because the food isn't in place to slow down the alcohols progress towards your intestines.. or whatever.
  2. Liquor doesn't have carbs. Honestly. Even rum. (SPICED rum may have some sugar, but it'll be around 5 carbs per drink, which I'd just ignore if I were you). Vodka, taquila, rum, their carb content is low to nonexistent...
  3. MIXERS have tons of sugar, so watch out. Diet mixers are the way to go:) Jack and Diet, Vodka and Diet ginger-ale... you definitely have options
  4. I generally don't give insulin while i'm drinking, that's how you enter "the danger zone" of the classic post alcohol crash. But that means I'm also careful to not eat too much and to stay away from sugary drinks.

That's it, have a great time and don't sweat it. And i'm pretty sure glucagon doesn't work if your liver is "busy" processing alcohol.... So be careful mixing insulin and alcohol:)


(I typically just drink bud lights, sometimes as many as 8, which have about 10 carbs, i go a little high but then will get back down)

[quote user="Cor"]

The Candian Diabetes Association advises to eat carbs while you drink to prevent you going low later. You're sugars will go high but it's supposed to prevent a crash later. And I was told to set an alarm to wake me up in the middle of my sleep so I can check my blood sugar to see if I'm going low.   And don't count the alcohol as carbs! You don't take insulin for alcohol. And don't forget that if you're going to be dancing at the bars you need to eat extra carbs.

Hope that info helps.


That's exactly what I do, and avoid really sugary drinks.

Melissa....Clear Rum. No sugar or carbs in it. We called up Bacardi the company and got the nutrition info.

Wouldn't pizza be a good food choice, then?  the slow increase in bG will help you from plummeting overnight.  I find that way more effective than all carbs, which are out of your system before the alcohol brings the drop....

Happy Birthday, Melissa!

The general consensus, and my advice as well, is to just drink in moderation and be smart about it. 

I know that alcohol effects everyone differently, but I learned the hard way that hard liquor is not good for me.  I was out not long after my 21st birthday, and drank a bit more than I should have.  I ended up sick in the bathroom and then passed out from hypoglycemia.  Everyone, of course, just assumed that I was drunk (which I was, but not near the point of passing out!), but fortunately one of my friends knew I was diabetic and called an ambulance...  All in all, not a very fun evening.  Now I just stick to wine and limit myself to a couple glasses, and I've been fine. 

Please don't let that scare you.  You are going out with friends who know you are diabetic.  Just don't go overboard (and eat some snacks along with your drinks) and, most importantly, have fun!