Drinking and big nights out
Everyone enjoys socialising with friends. Having diabetes doesn’t make you any less of a party animal, just hopefully a more organised one! You will need to plan your nights out a little more than people who don’t live with diabetes. This includes doing things like making sure you eat beforehand, watching what you eat and drink, taking a hypo kit with you, wearing some ID and looking after yourself afterwards. You should also take some snacks with you, so you can munch on the run.
Talk to your doctor or diabetes educator for more information on drinking and diabetes.
“I went through a bad time in my teenage years. I had lots of arguments with my parents. I started working as an apprentice and started drinking spirits every Friday afternoon. Sometimes I didn’t think about my diabetes at all. I didn’t care. Then one day when I was 21, I felt a huge pain in my back. It turns out my BGL was 32 and I had a huge abscess on my kidney. It took something like that to turn my life around.” (Anonymous)
To limit health and social risks, these guidelines might be helpful:
- Men should drink no more than 4 standard drinks a day.
- Women should drink no more than 2 standard drinks a day.
- Everyone should have 1 or 2 alcohol-free days every week.
If you have diabetes you can have a drink or two occasionally. Ideally, you should pace yourself, avoid binge drinking and make sure you eat some food before you go out. Keep an eye on what you are actually drinking as well, including the mixers. There are lots of other things to think about before you head out for a big night on the town.
There are some tips on alcohol consumption for people living with type 1 diabetes. Read more in our booklet Alcohol and type 1 diabetes.
“I once got told I was disgusting and should be ashamed of myself, by this woman in the toilet who assumed I was a junkie.” (Anonymous)
Having a hypo in public isn’t a good feeling, so checking and insulin still need to be a part of your life, even when you are out. It may also be harder to recognise the signs of a hypo because they can be similar to feeling tipsy and then it might be too late. Unfortunately, there can be a lack of understanding about diabetes in the general community. If you feel embarrassed, feel free to go and inject your insulin in private away from prying eyes.
The next morning
If you’ve had a big night (either from alcohol or late night), make sure you get up in the morning to test your BGLs / insulin and have something to eat. You can always get some more sleep later. Think about getting someone to check on you or call you in the morning (that’s where parents can be useful!).
For more information on drinking and big nights out check out:
Tips from young people with diabetes for…
Late/big nights out
- “Eat! I know it may not always seem to be the coolest thing ever, but people stepping over your passed-out body when you are hypo-ing (and they just think you’re drunk) is not a good look.” (Holly, age 18)
- “Plan ahead! And stay off ‘alcopops’ – they’re basically sugar!” (Ruth, age 25)
- “Make sure you keep an eye on what you’re doing in relation to your diabetes and you can still have a great night.” (Anonymous)