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Diabetes and recreational drugs

Recreational drug use can pose an array of health risks to all users. For people with certain health conditions, such as diabetes, the use of drugs and mind-altering substances can be especially problematic.

If you’re living with diabetes, it’s beneficial to educate yourself on how recreational drugs can impact your condition. Recognizing what certain substances can do to your blood glucose management and overall wellbeing can prove vital to staying healthy.

Different drugs have different effects

There is a wide variety of recreational drugs. Some have more mild effects on the mind and body, while others can be more intense and have a longer duration. Some examples of drugs and their effects include:

  • Marijuana or cannabis: Smoking or ingesting marijuana can cause hallucinatory effects, sometimes provoking anxiety, or paranoia.1
  • Cocaine, amphetamines, and other stimulants: Snorting or injecting stimulants such as cocaine or amphetamines can cause an increased heart rate as well as an increase in body temperature2.
  • LSD and psychoactive hallucinogenic drugs: Depending on the amount ingested, LSD can cause hallucinations, as well as increased heart rate and blood pressure3.

How recreational drugs will affect you depends on several factors, including the dosage taken and the state of your overall health. If you are an individual living with diabetes, the impact that drugs—including alcohol and even caffeine—can be more severe.

How do drugs interact with diabetes?

While considerable research has been done on how alcohol and nicotine can impact diabetes, little is known for certain about the effects of more illicit drugs. This is largely because drugs like marijuana, cocaine, and ecstasy remain illegal in many countries4.

Still, there are ways in which recreational drugs affect all users that people with diabetes should be aware of. For example, certain drugs can cause you to become disoriented and unable to keep track of time, making you forget to take your insulin. Other drugs may suppress your appetite, putting you at risk for hypoglycemia. The effects of a “comedown” or feeling low the day after taking drugs may also jeopardize your blood sugar management5.

Considering the risk involved, people with diabetes are advised to avoid recreational drugs altogether. If you do choose to take drugs, you should speak with your doctor about how it may impact your diabetes management plan.

1. Cannibis Health Effects. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Page. https://www.cdc.gov/cannabis/health-effects/index.html. Accessed 24JUN2024
2. Cocaine and Diabetes. The Global Diabetes Community Page. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/recreational-drugs/cocaine.html. Accessed 16AUG2021
3. LSD and Diabetes. The Global Diabetes Community Page. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/recreational-drugs/lsd.html. Accessed 17AUG2021
4. Recreational Drugs and Diabetes. The Global Diabetes Community Page. https://www.diabetes.co.uk/recreational-drugs/index.html. Accessed 17AUG2021
5. Alcohol and Drugs. The National Health Service Type 1 Diabetes Page. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/type-1-diabetes/alcohol-and-drugs/. Accessed 17AUG2021

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