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RAVE ISLAND EVENTWriting in the journal Diabetic Medicine (26:328-33) , diabetes specialists from St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney say GPs should accept that many if not most of their young diabetic patients will try recreational drugs and clinicians should have ‘a high index of suspicion’ for drug use as a possible cause of poor diabetes control or acute complications.

They say recent studies have shown that more than half of young people with diabetes who present with problems to hospitals have used drugs, the most common being cannabis and ecstasy.

They note that ecstasy can cause hyponatraemia and ketoacidosis, while drugs such as ketamine can precipitate severe diabetic ketoacidosis.

Cannabis use may cause insulin non-compliance and lead to hyperglycaemia if users get ‘the munchies’.

The risks of recreational drugs are amplified in settings such as raves and parties where poly-drug use is common, drink spiking may occur and consumption of high glucose drinks is encouraged. Therefore, doctors should routinely ask about drug use in diabetic patients, and take a non-judgmental approach because most young patients will be reluctant to admit to drug use, they suggest.

“We advocate increased awareness of the impact of drug use on Type 1 diabetes, as the consequences may be fatal…substance use should be considered even without suggestive history, particularly with atypical biochemical features,” they say.

Experts suggest contacting an drug addiction treatment center or drug rehab program for more information regarding poly-drug use and the dangers of club drugs or other kind of drug rehabilitation.

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5 Comments

JaniceNovember 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Great advice in this area for medical professionals. My nephew is in his early 20’s and fits the description perfectly. He’s been diagnosed as at risk for type 2 diabetes even though he is thin and of slight build. He smokes pot all the time and misuses prescription pain killers. In the past he has used many other kinds of drugs including meth. This young man frequently goes on binges where he stays away for days at a time and sleeps for days at a time. When he is awake, he gets “the munchies” and will eat a tremendous amount of sugar. His favorite is a whole bag of Pecan Sandy cookies. I don’t know how his body deals with the abuse.

 

JaniceNovember 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Just another way that patients with Type 1 diabetes need to walk the straight and narrow line. The apparent reluctance of physicians to discuss the use of illegal drugs with them is unfortunate.

 

JaniceNovember 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I suspect that this might be an even bigger problem in the future with many states legalizing marijuana for medical use. Sort of an unintended consequence few people thought about.

 

JaniceNovember 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

I imagine it would be quite difficult to get young people to fess up to using recreational drugs. Family doctors and other health care professionals really need approach the subject in an non-threatening manner to gain the patient’s trust. Even then, it will still be tough to make a young person fully grasp the risk to their health.

 

JaniceNovember 3, 2012 at 1:07 pm

Most young people who suffer from diabetes probably don’t even realize the added danger from drug use. I am in my forties, and while it’s been several decades since I experimented with pot, I don’t think it would have crossed my mind to worry about what I was eating (or drinking for that matter). With the increase in obesity and diabetes, this just compounds an already dangerous situation. More awareness campaigns are needed to get the word out, since I’m sure young people (or older people ) have no idea the risk they are putting themselves at.

 

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