substances

Drugs, alcohol and substances: Their link to diabetes

Mthandazo Ndlovu

I WILL take a pause on last week’s topic and look at the subject of drugs, alcohol and substances and their link to diabetes. The world commemorates Diabetes Day every 14th November since 1991.

Recreational drug use can seriously interfere with proper diabetes care and pose a serious health threat to your wellbeing, especially if you have diabetes.

Cocaine is a highly addictive drug derived from the leaves of the coca plant. Since the drug causes users not to feel hunger or exhaustion, it can be particularly dangerous for diabetics. Without proper rest and nourishment, you can greatly increase your risk of hypoglycemia. You may also experience symptoms of this low blood sugar disorder and mistake them for drug effects, while on the drug, it is easy to forget to use insulin, which can cause dangerously high blood sugar levels (hyperglycemia).

Alcohol, often seen as a safe alternative to illegal drugs, can easily send a healthy blood glucose level up to unhealthy levels, according to research done one should reduce to one or two drinks per night, and they should not include sugary ingredients, regular sugar testing is a necessity to every alcohol user or abuser.

Ecstasy is an illegal chemical drug that comes in tablet form and like cocaine can suppress appetite, which is dangerous for diabetics who have to keep a meal schedule, it also gives them burst energy which causes them to stay up the whole night and get little sleep and both this can lead to hypoglycemia, and people on this drug often experience dehydration, which is dangerous to diabetics since they are already prone to this.

LSD being a hallucinogenic drug makes one to go on ’’trips’’ and lose track of time and this is dangerous for a diabetic who has to use insulin regularly who will forget or not realise that time has passed as this generally increases the risk for hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia.

Also other medicinal drugs also have an effect the likes of Corticosteroids which are a powerful range of medications used to treat conditions characterised by inflammation such as rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. Corticosteroids can raise blood glucose levels which may return to normal after the steroid treatment has been concluded. However, if taken for a long time, steroid treatment can sometimes lead to the development of type 2 diabetes permanently.

While on steroids you may need to take diabetes medication which may include insulin.

Beta blockers which work by blocking the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline which helps to reduce blood pressure and reduce heart rate, this are prescribed to treat conditions such as angina, heart disease and or hypertension (high blood pressure). Beta-blockers can reduce sensitivity to insulin and can therefore raise the risk of type 2 diabetes developing.

Antipsychotics side effects are weight gain and hyperglycemia (high blood glucose levels) blood sugars may return to normal after medications is stopped, but if significant weight is gained  over the course of treatment, insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes may be permanent.

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