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Can I Go To Rehab If I Am Diabetic?

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

January 23, 2019

People who suffer from diabetes and drug addiction are often uncertain of whether or not their condition precludes them from rehabilitation treatments. Thankfully, that is not the case, in fact, diabetics who suffer from addiction should find treatment as soon as possible.

The Ways Diabetes And Addiction Are Similar

One fact that may surprise many is that diabetes and addiction are quite similar in the ways that they chemically impact the body. For example, people who suffer from drug addiction are reliant on their substance to generate production of the pleasure chemical dopamine.

Intriguingly, diabetic insulin shots have been shown to interfere with naturally occurring dopamine levels. This interference is nowhere near as severe as that caused by addiction, but the connection is there.

This isn’t to say that drug addiction and diabetes are the same thing, just that they create some similar reactions in the body.

The Effects Of Drugs On Blood Sugar

Beyond the unique dopamine connection, addiction and diabetes are unfortunately linked in the way both impact blood sugar. Diabetes causes a person’s blood sugar level to vacillate wildly, a condition only magnified by the use of addictive substances.

The effect of various drugs on blood sugar levels includes:

  • Alcohol: people who are addicted to alcohol often suffer from extremely low levels of blood sugar. They can also distract a person from taking care of their regular diabetic needs.
  • Stimulants: stimulants don’t appear to actively affect blood sugar levels, but they often suppress hunger and cause poor sleep. As a result, diabetics may forget to eat or take their insulin, throwing their blood sugar level into a tailspin.
  • Opioids: opioids slow the metabolic processes, which controls digestion, and can generate extremely high blood sugar levels. They can also lead to poor diet and insulin control.

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The Results Of Poor Diabetic Treatment

If you’re a diabetic, you know that mismanaging your diabetes is a major problem. You also know that drug addiction can cause you to ignore your condition and its effects on your health. People who spend years ignoring or poorly treating their diabetes are putting their body in severe danger. Combine diabetes damage with the ravages of drug addiction and you create a life-threatening cocktail that can negatively, and permanently, alter your health.

Common health problems that result from poorly managed diabetes include:

  • Organ damage
  • Increased disease risk
  • Infections
  • Rotting teeth
  • Kidney failure
  • Blindness
  • Gangrene
  • Ulcerations
  • Pneumonia
  • Heart attacks
  • Strokes
  • Loss of limbs
  • Coma
  • Death

The Ways Drug Rehabilitation Helps

Drug rehabilitation helps diabetics who suffer from addiction take control over their health and avoid falling victim to the above mentioned problems. Trying to balance a life between drug addiction and diabetes is a nightmare.

A type 1 diabetic who suffered from crack cocaine dependency fell into a three-day coma after he became distracted from health concerns. Thankfully, he recovered and was even able to keep his beloved and devoted wife.

The only reason that story has a happy ending is that he actually quit his habit and got his diabetes back under control by attending an inpatient drug rehab.

The Effect Of Replacement Drugs On Diabetes

One major concern that keeps diabetics out of drug rehabilitation is the effects that replacement drugs may have on their condition. And there’s not getting around it: replacement drugs are likely to affect your diabetes. To many, this is simply trading one dangerous drug for another.

However, the comparison isn’t quite right: while replacement drugs are still an addictive substance, they are less severe and purer than any street drug. And its doses will be carefully monitored and slowly decreased to slowly wean you off.

Really, there’s no way to compare the two approaches: using street drugs to treat your addiction while ignoring your diabetes symptoms is much more dangerous than carefully monitored replacement drugs and a well-balanced rehabilitation diet.

The Connection Between Rehab And Diabetic Diets

Which brings us to the most interesting connection between rehabilitation and diabetes: their use of a very similar recovery diet. Just compare a diabetic diet plan with that of a typical drug rehabilitation diet plan.

Diabetic Diet Plan:

  • Whole grain carbohydrates and legumes
  • High levels of fiber, including nuts
  • Low-fat fish
  • Plenty of fruits and vegetables
  • Doses of monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats from food like almonds and pecans

Typical Drug Rehabilitation Diet Plan:

  • No sugary foods
  • Heavy doses of fruits and vegetables
  • Healthy protein, like fish and beans
  • Foods like brown rice and pasta for fiber
  • As many whole grains as possible

Contact Us

By now, it should be clear that diabetics who suffer from drug addiction can and should seek out rehabilitation care as soon as possible. If you’re interested in learning more about addiction care as a diabetic, please don’t hesitate to contact us.

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