Diabetes and drugs: harm reduction
I hace Type 1 Diabetes. I am interested in diabetes and drugs: harm reduction strategies, tips…Also, I want to kow which drugs are more and less harmful.
In this post we will focus on Type 1 Diabetes Mellitus (DM1), the most common type of diabetes mellitus in youth and young adults. 2021, It is estimated that there were about 8 million individuals worldwide with type 1 diabetes: of these 1,5 million (18%) are less than 20 years, 5,4 million (64%) are 20–59 years, and 1·6 million (19%) are 60 years or older.
DM1, also known as juvenile diabetes, is a chronic autoimmune disease. This occurs when the body’s immune system mistakenly attacks and destroys the insulin-producing cells of the pancreas. This causes a lack of insulin production and can lead to high blood glucose (sugar) levels.
- Some common symptoms of DM1 s include:
- Increased thirst and frequent urination
Fatigue and weakness
Unintentional weight loss
Irritability or mood swings
Slow healing sores or frequent infections
Treatment for DM1 usually involves insulin injections or an insulin pump. It is important for people with DM1 to monitor blood glucose levels and adjust insulin dose.
In addition, people with DM1 should follow a healthy eating plan, engage in regular physical activity. Also, monitor blood pressure and cholesterol levels. So, they can reduce the risk of cardiovascular, neurological or kidney complications .
1-Diabetes Mellitus and drugs
DM1 affects mostly young people. This segment of the population has the highest frequencies of recreational drug use.
Young people with DM1 have the same motivations and concerns as those without the disease. It is clear that not using drugs is the best way to avoid problems. But it is also clear that a significant proportion of them will use them. Indeed, there are studies that indicate this:
There are specific risk reduction measures for people with diabetes who use drugs.
In the first months after diagnosis, disease management is often particularly complicated. Some training is necessary to learn to manage the timing of blood sugar measurements. To recognise hypoglycaemia or hyperglycaemia can be difficult. Also to measure insulin doses or calculate the meal before or after exercise. All this becomes simpler over time. Before considering the use of any drug, it is important to know how to manage diabetes.
Monitor blood glucose levels frequently: It is important for individuals with DM1 to monitor blood glucose levels frequently. This should be don both during drug use and in the hours following use. This can help them identify and treat hypoglycemia or hyperglycemia as quickly as possible
Carry fast-acting sources of glucose: Individuals with DM1 who use recreational drugs should carry fast-acting sources of glucose with them always. For example, glucose tablets, candy, or juice. These can be used to quickly treat hypoglycemia.
Stay hydrated: Some recreational drugs can cause dehydration, which can exacerbate the symptoms of hyperglycemia. DM1 drug users should drink plenty of water and avoid alcohol, that causes dehydration.
Never take drugs alone. Make sure that someone with you knows your situation. A friend who knows how to measure your blood sugar. And also to inject the right amount of insulin or fast-acting sources of glucose.
3.- Specific substances:
Alcohol consumption can have an impact on blood glucose levels, which can be particularly concerning for individuals with Type 1 diabetes who rely on insulin therapy to manage their blood glucose levels. However, in moderation, alcohol can be safely consumed by many individuals with diabetes.
When it comes to choosing which alcoholic beverages to consume, it’s important to consider the carbohydrate and sugar content of the drink. Drinks that are high in carbohydrates and sugar can cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels, which can be particularly problematic for individuals with diabetes.
Here are some examples of alcoholic beverages that are generally considered to be less harmful for individuals with Type 1 diabetes:
Light beer: Light beer contains fewer carbohydrates and calories than regular beer, which makes it a better choice for individuals with diabetes.
Red or white wine: Red or white wine can be a good option as they typically contain fewer carbohydrates than beer and some mixed drinks.
Spirits: Spirits such as vodka, gin, or whiskey are lower in carbohydrates than beer or wine, and can be mixed with sugar-free mixers such as diet soda or Coke Zero.
On the other hand, there are other drinks particularlly risky:
Regular beer: Regular beer typically contains a higher amount of carbohydrates than other alcoholic beverages, which can cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels. may pack 35–44 grams of carbs per 7-ounce (225-mL) serving
Sweet wines: Sweet wines such as dessert wines, port wines, and some sparkling wines contain higher amounts of sugar and carbohydrates than other wines, which can cause a rapid increase in blood glucose levels.
Mixed drinks: Mixed drinks, such as margaritas, daiquiris, and other cocktails, may pack 35–44 grams of carbs per 7-ounce (225-mL) serving. The same goes for cream liqueurs such as Bailey’s and Kahlua. These provide around 13 grams of carbs, of which 12 grams are from sugar, for every 2 ounces (60 grams) of beverage.
Probably, tobacco is the most harmful drug for a diabetic.Smoking tobacco is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, and individuals with diabetes are already at an increased risk of developing this condition. Smoking can further increase the risk of cardiovascular disease in individuals with diabetes, potentially leading to heart attacks, stroke, and other complications.
Tobacco can enhance insulin resistance and reduce the effectiveness of diabetes medications.
Smoking can impair wound healing, which can be particularly problematic for individuals with diabetes who are already at an increased risk of developing foot ulcers and other wounds.
E-cigs probably pose less risk than smoked, conventional tobacco.
The consequences of cannabis use in diabetic patients are not very clear. Some studies suggest that the risks are similar to those of tobacco although they are probably biased by the fact that many of the participants also smoke tobacco.
On the other hand, it has been suggested that some cannabinoids may have a beneficial effect on blood glucose control, although there are also not enough good studies.
It is important to remember that cannabis increases appetite, which may have consequences in DM1.
The use of vaporisers instead of combustion (with or without tobacco) is also particularly advisable.
Stimulants (cocaine, amphetamine, methamphetamine):
There is no direct effect between stimulant use and blood sugar levels. But it is important to be aware of what you are doing while using them. Intense physical exercise (sex, dancing) can have an impact on carbohydrate expenditure and facilitate hypoglycaemia.It’s important to take regular breaks and rest to avoid exhaustion, which can affect blood glucose levels.
On the other hand, it is important to consider that stimulants can also reduce appetite. It’s important to have healthy snacks available, such as fruit, juices and low-carbohydrate foods, to maintain blood glucose levels.
Psychedelics and psychedelic-like (MDMA):
The previous considerations on stimulants (in terms of exercise and appetite) apply.
In addition, some psychedelics alter the perception of time. It may be important to set an alarm clock to remember to monitor glucose.
Psychedelics, MDMA and ketamine alter the perception of one’s own body. In the usual state of consciousness diabetics can recognise a rise or fall in blood sugar by their bodily sensations. These substances can alter these perceptions, making it difficult to recognise them.
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