Alcohol Use in Diabetes and Prediabetes: Risks, Issues, and Effects

According to the American Heart Association there are around 59 million people in the United States alone that have what is termed “prediabetes”. While diabetes isn’t reversible, prediabetes can be reversed and never fully develop into diabetes with proper control and diet. It is where the blood glucose, or blood sugar, is still a little higher than what is normal but not so high that it is in the diabetic ranges yet.


Prediabetes is also the condition that is called IGT (impaired glucose tolerance) or IFG (impaired fasting glucose). These terms show it in a more complex manner. Prediabetes just is a simple way to say it is a developing condition to diabetes, while IFG or IGT shows the correct condition of the body not being able to process glucose as fast as should be. The impaired fasting glucose name shows that patients usually have a slightly higher than normal waking blood sugar.

Risk Factors

Alcohol and its consumption is a risk factor for developing diabetes. Heavy use makes the risk go even higher. Other risk factors include a family history, hypertension, and being overweight for your height. Race is a factor as people of color have a higher risk. The older you get the more your risk factors go up, along with any smoking or gestational diabetes history.


Use of alcohol increases a diabetic’s risk of going into hypoglycemia, or low blood sugar. According to the American Diabetes Association, the liver starts to clean the blood of alcohol before it can send out glucose again. When this blood sugar starts to dip it can fall at a rapid pace and affect the diabetic severely. As little as two drinks when there is not food to help dissipate the alcohol can make a diabetic go into low blood sugar.

Medication Issue

There are several diabetic medications on the market that will be affected with any alcohol use. Medications such as Micronase and DiaBeta will lower the amount of glucose in the blood. Combining those medications with alcohol (that keeps glucose from being sent out from the liver) can develop a potentially deadly case of hypoglycemia.

Weight Gain

There are many types of alcoholic drinks that are seeping in calories. For a pre-diabetic getting this additional calorie intake can lead to weight gain which can go against everything a pre-diabetic needs to do to keep from getting diabetes. While one smart drink every so often will be fine, as long as you do so while eating and limit it to one, having several can lead to complications.

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