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Addiction is always a dangerous disease, but it can be especially life-threatening for diabetics. Wild fluctuations in blood sugar can increase drug cravings and make long-term recovery all but impossible. Frequent drug abuse can also worsen the toll which diabetes already takes on people’s bodies. In order for diabetics to get healthy and stay sober, they need to understand the complex and dangerous relationship between their conditions.
Diabetes is a metabolic condition characterized by chronically high blood sugar levels. This phenomenon is caused by a malfunctioning in the body’s production and utilization of insulin – a hormone which normally diverts glucose from the blood into the cells of organs and muscle tissue. Type 1 diabetics are born with pancreases which don’t produce any insulin at all. On the other hand, type 2 diabetics develop their conditions later in life due to insulin insensitivity. Usually through poor diets, they overload their bodies’ insulin receptors, causing permanent damage to their abilities to use this crucial hormone. Most doctors believe this to be the reason why type 2 diabetics tend to be overweight or obese.
Blood Sugar and Drug Cravings
Although diabetes is a disease of high blood sugar, diabetics who treat their conditions often experience abnormally low levels. Since they either can’t produce insulin or can’t use it efficiently, they usually inject large amounts of it after meals. These injections can lead to the rapid uptake of glucose in their bodies, leaving them with extremely low concentrations of blood sugar – a phenomenon called hypoglycemia.
Low blood sugar tends to induce hunger in healthy people, but the body’s feedback mechanisms for food and drug cravings are intertwined. Most addicts who become hypoglycemic will feel strong urges to get high, and diabetics may have this experience multiple times per day. This is a particularly pressing problem for alcoholics, since drinking further hampers the body’s ability to raise blood sugar to normal levels. In fact, the current data suggest that roughly ninety-five percent of alcoholics are chronically hypoglycemic.
Diabetic addicts risk even greater damage to their bodies than other drug users. Obese type 2 diabetics already tend to suffer from peripheral nerve damage, and the use of alcohol and narcotics can make this problem even worse. In fact, some of these people have even had to have their feet and lower legs amputated due to lack of blood flow and feeling. Using drugs can also worsen their constant ups and downs in blood sugar, leading them to overeat and further blunt their insulin sensitivity. Overall, diabetes and drug addiction can easily exacerbate each other in a deadly cycle.
Disrupting Healthy Routines
Like addiction recovery, managing diabetes takes constant effort. Daily insulin injections are usually necessary, and most diabetics must eat five to six carefully planned meals per day to keep their blood sugar steady. Using drugs can easily disrupt this routine, causing people to miss meals or injections. This is especially dangerous for type 1 diabetics, who can actually die from low blood sugar if they fail to manage their food intakes and insulin levels.
Drug addiction is painful enough on its own, but it causes even greater difficulties for people with diabetes. If you’re a diabetic struggling with a drug or alcohol problem, call the number at the top of your screen now. Our dedicated addiction specialists can get you started on a rehab program that will finally allow you to take control of your cravings and live a long, healthy life.