In total, 37.3 million people have diabetes (11.3% of the US population) which consists of:

  • 28.7 million people, including 28.5 million adults
  • Undiagnosed: 8.5 million people (23.0% of adults are undiagnosed)

The percentage of Americans age 65 and older remains high, at 29.2%, or 15.9 million seniors (diagnosed and undiagnosed). 1.4 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes every year. In 2019, 96 million Americans aged 18 and older had prediabetes. About 283,000 Americans under the age of 20 are estimated to have been diagnosed with diabetes, approximately 35% of that population.

The rates of diagnosed diabetes in adults by race/ethnic background are:

  • 14.5% of American Indians/Alaskan Natives
  • 12.1% of non-Hispanic blacks
  • 11.8% of Hispanics
  • 9.5% of Asian Americans
  • 7.4% of non-Hispanic whites

November is Diabetes Awareness Day

November is Diabetes Awareness Day, and we want to bring attention to a very important topic: drugs that can cause diabetes. This is an important conversation because drugs are a leading cause of diabetes, and they are often taken without any awareness of the potential consequences. 

November is National Diabetes Month a time when communities across the country team up to bring attention to diabetes. This year’s focus is on prediabetes and preventing diabetes. In 2019, diabetes was the ninth leading cause of death with an estimated 1.5 million deaths directly caused by diabetes.

What is Diabetes and How is it Diagnosed?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that occurs when the pancreas does not produce enough insulin or the body cannot effectively use the insulin it produces. Insulin is a hormone that regulates blood sugar. When blood sugar levels are too high, it can damage the body’s organs and lead to serious health complications.

There are two main types of diabetes, Type 1 and Type 2. Type 1 diabetes is usually caused by a genetic predisposition or by an autoimmune reaction. Type 2 diabetes is much more common, and it is typically caused by lifestyle factors like being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, or having a family history of the disease. However, drugs can also be a major contributing factor to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes can be described as a form of metabolic syndrome, which is a cluster of conditions that include high blood pressure, high blood sugar, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels. People with type 2 diabetes have insulin resistance, meaning that their cells do not respond properly to insulin. Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, accounting for 90-95% of all cases.

Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 Diabetes can be described as an autoimmune disease in which the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the beta cells of the pancreas, resulting in a complete loss of insulin production. Type 1 diabetes is less common than type 2 diabetes, accounting for 5-10% of all cases.

Gestational Diabetes

Gestational Diabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs during pregnancy and typically goes away after the baby is born. However, women who have had gestational diabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes later in life.

Many drugs can cause or worsen diabetes. Some drugs increase the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, while others can cause or worsen pre-existing diabetes. Certain drugs can also cause or worsen diabetes.

Prediabetes

Prediabetes is a form of diabetes that occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with prediabetes are at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. Certain drugs can cause or worsen prediabetes.

What are the Risk Factors for Diabetes?

The risk factors for diabetes include being overweight or obese, having high blood pressure, having a family history of the disease, and being over the age of 45. However, drugs can also be a major contributing factor to the development of Type 2 diabetes.

Which Drugs Can Influence Diabetes?

Certain drugs have been linked to an increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. These drugs include corticosteroids, beta-blockers, atypical antipsychotics, and some immunosuppressants. 

Corticosteroids 

These are drugs that are used to treat inflammation. They are often used to treat conditions like asthma and Crohn’s disease. Beta-blockers are drugs that are used to treat high blood pressure. 

Beta-blockers 

These are drugs that are typically used to treat heart conditions like high blood pressure and arrhythmias. Atypical antipsychotics are drugs that are used to treat mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

Immunosuppressants 

These are drugs that are used to suppress the immune system to prevent the rejection of transplanted organs or to treat autoimmune diseases like Crohn’s disease and psoriasis.

Antipsychotics 

These are drugs that are used to treat mental disorders like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. Certain antidepressants are also thought to increase the risk of diabetes.

They also include drugs such as propranolol (Inderal) and atenolol (Tenormin).

  • Thiazide diuretics: These drugs are used to treat high blood pressure and include drugs such as hydrochlorothiazide (HydroDIURIL) and chlorthalidone (Thalitone).
  • Birth control pills and other hormone drugs: Hormones such as estrogen can increase blood sugar levels.
  • Azine antipsychotics: drugs such as chlorpromazine (Thorazine), fluphenazine (Permitil, Prolixin), promethazine (Phenergan), thioridazine (Mellaril), and trifluoperazine (Stelazine) can increase blood sugar levels.

What is Blood Sugar and What Happens to Someone Who Has Diabetes?

Blood sugar is defined by the American Diabetes Association as “the amount of glucose (sugar) in your blood at any given time.” If you have diabetes, you will need to monitor your blood sugar levels and take steps to keep them under control. This may involve making changes to your diet, exercising more, and/or taking medication. Blood sugar is measured in milligrams per deciliter (mg/dL). A normal blood sugar level is less than 100 mg/dL. A blood sugar level of 200 mg/dL or higher indicates diabetes.

What is Insulin?

Insulin is a hormone that helps the body use sugar (glucose) for energy. It also helps store sugar in the liver, muscles, and fat cells for later use. In Type 1 diabetes, the body does not make insulin. In Type 2 diabetes, either the body does not make enough insulin or the cells do not respond properly to insulin. As a result, glucose builds up in the blood instead of being used for energy.

Relation of Diabetes to Substance Abuse

Diabetes can have draft effects on substance abuse and vice versa. People with diabetes are more likely to develop an addiction to drugs and alcohol. On the other hand, people who abuse drugs and alcohol are at increased risk of developing diabetes. People with diabetes who abuse drugs or alcohol are at increased risk of developing serious health complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney damage, and nerve damage. 

What Are The Negative Impact of Alcohol Abuse on Diabetes?

The negative impact of alcohol abuse on those with diabetes can be significant and cause serious health problems. There are a few ways that alcohol can impact diabetes:

  • Alcohol abuse can lead to weight gain, which can, in turn, lead to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes.
  • Drinking alcohol can also cause low blood sugar levels (known as hypoglycemia), which can be dangerous for people with diabetes.
  • Alcohol abuse can also damage the liver, which is responsible for processing sugar in the body. This can lead to a build-up of sugar in the blood, known as hyperglycemia.

If you have diabetes and drink alcohol, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely. You should also talk to your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to consume.

How Does Alcohol Affect Blood Sugar

Alcohol affects blood sugar in two ways. First, it prevents the liver from releasing sugar into the bloodstream. Second, it increases the amount of sugar that is produced by the liver.

This can lead to a build-up of sugar in the blood, known as hyperglycemia. If you have diabetes and drink alcohol, it’s important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely. You should also talk to your doctor about how much alcohol is safe for you to consume.

Which Illegal Drugs Can Cause Diabetes?

Illegal drugs can cause several different health problems, and diabetes is just one of them. Some drugs that have been linked to diabetes include:

If you’re using any of these drugs, it’s important to be aware of the risk of developing diabetes. If you have diabetes, it’s also important to monitor your blood sugar levels closely and talk to your doctor about the best way to manage your condition. Alcohol reduces the effectiveness of diabetes medication, especially the intake of insulin.

Drugs can cause diabetes by interfering with the body’s ability to produce or use insulin. Alcohol, for example, can prevent the liver from releasing sugar into the bloodstream. This can lead to low blood sugar levels, which can then cause symptoms such as sweating, heart palpitations, and dizziness. Ecstasy and other drugs that increase serotonin levels in the brain can also cause low blood sugar levels. And steroids can interfere with the way the body uses insulin to control blood sugar levels.

What is Drug-induced Hypoglycemia?

Drug-induced hypoglycemia is when drugs lower your blood sugar to a dangerously low level. This can happen if you take too much diabetes medication, or if you mix certain drugs. If you have diabetes, it’s important to check with your doctor or pharmacist before taking any new drugs, even over-the-counter drugs. 

Some drugs that can cause drug-induced hypoglycemia include:

  • Insulin
  • Sulfonylureas
  • Alpha-glucosidase inhibitors

If you think you might be experiencing drug-induced hypoglycemia, it’s important to seek medical help right away. Low blood sugar can be dangerous and should be treated as a medical emergency. Symptoms of low blood sugar include:

  • Feeling shaky
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Hunger
  • Headache
  • Weakness or fatigue

If you think you or someone you know is experiencing low blood sugar, it’s important to give them a source of quick sugar, like fruit juice or glucose tablets.

Diabetes and Substance Abuse is a Co-occurring Disorder

A co-occurring disorder is when someone is dealing with two diagnosable disorders (such as substance abuse, mental health, or other chronic disorder) at the same time. It’s also sometimes called a dual diagnosis. Those with diabetes may struggle with mental illness, other chronic conditions, and substance abuse. Treatment for co-occurring disorders often includes therapy, medication, and self-care.

Treatment for Diabetes and Substance Abuse

Treatment aims at maintaining normal blood sugar levels through regular monitoring, insulin therapy, diet, and exercise. People with diabetes should also be sure to get regular eye exams and foot checks, as diabetes can lead to blindness and foot problems. If you or someone you love is struggling with diabetes and substance abuse, there is help available. 

Substance abuse treatment typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, detoxification, aftercare, and other amenities.

At Discovery Institute in New Jersey, our facilities are determined to provide you with the utmost quality of care. Our variety of programs and services are designed to treat those in recovery with an efficient approach. Struggling with diabetes and/or substance abuse can trigger a storm of confusion and health complications. If you or a loved one are struggling with substance abuse, reach out to us today.

Reviewed for Medical & Clinical Accuracy by Dr. Jeffrey Berman, MD

Dr. Jeffrey Berman is a psychiatrist in Teaneck, New Jersey and is affiliated with Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital. He received his medical degree from State University of New York Upstate Medical University and has been in practice for more than 20 years. He also speaks multiple languages, including French and Hebrew.