Party Mix: Partying, Alcohol and Diabetes

High-school can often be the start of a lot of experiences
that are often full of choices that are hard to make.  The party scene continues into college and while it calms down in later adulthood, high-school is often when teens have their first drink.  According to 70% of Canadian youth have tried drinking and Canadian youth first consume alcohol at the average age of 16.  But, when you throw diabetes in the mix, partying can become much more of a risk.

I spoke to a teen (16) about her experiences with attending parties. She gave the following answers:

What changed from attending parties as a non diabetic versus now?

I didn’t really attend parties so much unless it was birthday parties before Red Cups 18ozbecause I was a young age. But if it was a birthday party/function before I was diabetic I felt comfortable normally with the situations and wasn’t very worried. Now that I’m diabetic I get anxious about all the things I need to keep with me and counting carbs. I also get anxious about not wanting people to stare at me because I have to test my blood sugar or bolus. It tends to make situations more uncomfortable for me.”

Do you feel less inclined to take care of your diabetes in public at parties because of the social aspect?

“I always feel less inclined to take care of my diabetes in public or at parties because I feel very watched. I feel like it’s easier to avoid testing for awhile and bolusing just so I don’t have to deal with weird looks and questions so often. It tends to take up a bunch of my time too and starts to worry me, so I often fool myself by thinking I’m fine if I don’t test. Which I know isn’t right and it’s a bad habit.”

When entering high-school and parties with friends became more of an occurrence did diabetes ever detour you from attending? If so, why? How?

“At first when parties started becoming more prominent in my life and reoccurring, I found that for a long time I stayed well away from them because I was way too scared that something would go wrong with my diabetes. I also felt that none of my friends would care enough to help. I was detoured from socializing in that manor. I felt as if me going out and having fun would mess with my diabetes.”

How has alcohol played a factor in your diabetes? What precautions do you use to prevent something bad from happening such as passing out or going low?

“I don’t really drink alcohol often, and if I am at a party I will sometimes have a drink or two if my friends are drinking. If you choose to drink, especially if underage and without adults, there are precautions you must take in order to have a safe night.

Always always bring your tester, an emergency kit with any extra supplies you may need, and lots of treats and snacks for lows, because of the way alcohol effects the blood sugar it’s hard to tell how your body will respond to it. I know taking all these things with you seems really hard like  “how can I fit this all in a purse?” But don’t be ashamed to bring a backpack, trust me people bring bags to parties all the time! And put all your supplies you need in the bag. If you take the bag off always talk to the owner of the house or wherever you are and ask them to put it in a safe spot where it won’t be stolen or seen and make sure you know where it is.

Make sure before you go to a party that you have insulin in your pump or have your pen. Make sure your battery is full on everything including your meter and pump also, make sure your phone has closest to full battery as possible invade of emergencies. Always make sure you have at least one friend that you trust 100% that you can go to if you have ANY problems throughout the night!

Also, always plan your ride home, that goes for anyone even if you’re not diabetic. Always have at least 20-25$ if possible depending on where you are in relation to your home or where you’re staying, incase you ever need to cab home. Also, keep a cab number in your phone so you always have it.

I have forgotten supplies at someone’s house and had to have them bring them back to me at school so make sure you remember your stuff when your leaving! Set a reminder in your phone if needed! Don’t ever feel ashamed that you need to bolus or test! Keep track of your numbers. I promise that  most people don’t care, and if they do all they’re going to do is ask what you’re doing and  a lot of people are just curious and care about you. If you are drinking, have reminders in your phone to test your BG at least every hour, if not every 30 minutes. Some people don’t feel their lows when in certain party environments.

If you feel sick or if something wrong or you BG is off, TELL SOMEONE. Take a breather, test, sit outside, go to the washroom, grab some water, whatever you need. Remember parties and events are meant to have fun! That means sometimes we just have to do a little extra work in order to have a safe and fun night!”

For more information about diabetes and alcohol please visit: Diabetes & Alcohol or check out the resource page on our website.


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