Substance use – whether isolated, occasional or chronic – can impose both short and long-term effects on health and well-being, not to mention the effects it has on family and friends. If individuals with known or unknown diabetes use substances unhealthily, they could be exposing themselves to a variety of health challenges and complications, all without knowing it.
If you know you have diabetes, it’s important to recognize and guard against potential health risks associated with substance use.
What do I need to know about substance use and diabetes?
Substance use – the unhealthy use of drugs or alcohol which contributes to issues in thought, focus, balance, communication, social activity and more – can quickly derail one’s life. Even if you’re fully aware of all the negative effects that substance use could be imposing on your own life, dependence on the substances might override any attempts you make to break free. Over time, chronic substance use can contribute to long-term memory problems, impaired brain functionality and more, all compounded by the damage that substance use is also likely doing to your personal, professional and social spheres.
Diabetes is a condition that prevents the body from being able to effectively regulate blood sugar levels. Type 1 diabetes, otherwise known as “insulin-dependent” diabetes, occurs because there aren’t sufficient cells in the pancreas that can create insulin. The more common of the diabetes types, Type 2 diabetes occurs because the body cannot properly use the insulin it produces. Ultimately, both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes prevent sugar – glucose – from entering the body’s cells.
Independently, substance use and diabetes can each be independently managed through discipline and a variety of medication and therapy-based treatments.
What health problems are associated with substance use and diabetes?
Both substance use and diabetes are independently responsible for health issues. Here’s the good news: the effects of both diabetes and of substance use, when mitigated correctly, can’t get in the way of the healthy, happy life you want to live.
Both Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes contribute to health challenges that must be overcome. These issues can include:
- Delayed healing or sores and cuts
- Difficulty controlling weight
- Itchy skin
- Blurred or hampered vision
- Numbness, tingling or loss of feeling in fingers and/or toes
Many individuals who suffer from diabetes also experience hypoglycemia: low blood sugar. Individuals experiencing low blood sugar levels may find that they feel cranky or moody; they may also be confused, sleepy or weak, or experience shaking of limbs.
Substance use also brings a number of health complications. With continual substance use, the body can undergo various cardiovascular health issues, as well as gastrointestinal and respiratory problems, liver and kidney damage, neurological damage and more.
Can substance use affect my diabetes?
In short, the answer is an absolute yes: substance use can definitely make your diabetes more difficult to manage. Studies reveal elevated health risks for individuals using substances while enduring diabetes.
For one, individuals who struggle with diabetes are perhaps more prone to substance use risks, simply because they’re forced to maintain more of a restricted food and drink intake. In fact, studies show that the worst level of glycemic control (regulating one’s blood sugar levels) occurs between ages 16-18, which is also the age range during which many individuals choose to partake in substance use activities.
In terms of the chemical effects that substance use practices can impose on someone who struggles with diabetes, look no further than the contents of the substances themselves. Oftentimes, these substances contain high levels of artificial sugars, flavorings, syrups, fruit extracts or syrups. These ingredients on their own greatly elevate blood sugar levels; when mixed with alcohol or drugs, high sugar levels and high alcoholic content together pose a significant risk for anyone challenged with diabetes.
There are even substances that can negatively affect the health of anyone struggling with diabetes, without ever influencing blood sugar levels. For example, some drugs can hamper the pancreas’ ability to properly function, contributing to a state of hyperglycemia (too much glucose present in the bloodstream). All it takes is an intoxicated or high individual not paying attention to their body’s natural signals, and hyperglycemia can easily impose life-threatening problems.
There are better options than the cycle of substance use
Too often, substance use is a vicious cycle: abuse substances, gain freedom and some separation from substance use practices, fall back into the same destructive habits, repeat.
There’s freedom from the cycle and from your substance use practices at Real Recovery. Call (855) 363-7325 today, or contact us today, to learn how our location in North Carolina’s Blue Ridge Mountains can help earn you the distance you deserve from your substance use issues. Don’t give substance use activities a chance to compromise your health. Health, healing and renewal are only a single decision away.