Can Alcohol Cause Diabetes?

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis

Dr. John Elgin Wilkaitis completed medical school at The University of Mississippi Medical Center and residency in general psychiatry in 2003. He completed a fellowship in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital in 2005. Following this, he served as Chief Medical Officer for 10 years of Brentwood Behavioral Healthcare a private health system including a 105-bed hospital, residential treatment, and intensive outpatient services.

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Put simply, diabetes is a disease in which one’s blood sugar (glucose) levels are elevated beyond the normal range. There are two types of diabetes. Type 1 is a condition in which one’s pancreas cells are attacked and produce too little insulin, a hormone that regulates blood sugar levels. Type 2 is a condition in which one’s body becomes resistant to insulin.

One major difference between the two types is that type 2 is generally associated with genetics and/or lifestyle. Type 1 is autoimmune, basically meaning it comes from within the body. Consuming excess amounts of alcohol can cause inflammation of the pancreas, a disease called pancreatitis. This can lead to pancreas cell damage, negatively affecting the production and release of insulin.

Put simply, alcohol abuse can indeed cause type 2 diabetes, (which will be referred to only as diabetes for the remainder of this article.) Read on to learn how, and please contact us today if you or someone you know struggles with an alcohol problem. It’s not a joke, and Defining Wellness is here to help.

Alcohol and Diabetes

When the pancreas becomes inflamed, irreversible damage is done to several different pancreas cell types. Among those damaged permanently are pancreas cells known as β-cells which happen to be directly responsible for the production, storage, and release of insulin. Remember insulin regulates the amount of blood sugar we have. Without it, blood sugar rises, even more so with a poor diet and/or lack of exercise.

Diabetes occurs when β-cells are damaged enough to fail at regulating blood sugar so badly that glucose levels become abnormally high. Because many alcoholic beverages are high in either carbohydrates or sugar, excessive drinking causes both blood sugar levels to rise and damage to pancreatic β-cells.

It’s impossible to say exactly how much drinking can cause diabetes, as there are many factors that go into individual alcohol metabolisms. However, it’s safe to say that any amount of excessive drinking, (drinking to feel drunk), is problematic.

If someone with diabetes continues to consume alcohol, they put themselves at higher risk for multiple diseases. The pancreas, liver, kidneys and heart can all be affected by overconsumption of alcohol. Blood sugar can reach abnormally high levels in a diabetic drinker very easily. Therefore, if you or someone you know either drinks excessively or has diabetes and drinks, help is strongly recommended. Call Defining Wellness today to speak with an expert.

How to Help Yourself

When it comes to type 2 diabetes, lifestyle choices are key. Smoking, drinking, drug use, poor diet, lack of exercise and remaining sedentary are all contributing factors to diabetes. Therefore, if you or someone you know is at risk for diabetes and/or drinks to excess, the time for help is now.

Quitting alcohol is dangerous. Withdrawal symptoms are more severe with alcohol than with most other substances of abuse. It’s more than recommended to quit drinking with professional help. It’s a must. There are multiple recovery program types available to alcoholics seeking treatment. Call us now for more valuable information.

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If you are ready to take the step towards a new life, call Defining Wellness today and learn more about how we can help you.