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Avatar universal

effects of smoking marijuana and being diabetic

I am new here and i hope i am not breaking any rules but my question ia about what effects smoking pot (marijuana) will have on my son (20yrs old) who is diabetic. I am not 100% sure that he is doing this but am sure he has tried it at least once and i want to be able to give him all the correct information about the dangers he is putting himself in before i speak with him about this.
Of course there is the effects which will happen whether he had diabeties or not but i would be grateful for any advice which anyone may have on this subject.
43 Responses
Avatar universal
Hey Cheechee!  
I want to give you my perspective as the Mom of a 16 year old girl who has had diabetes since the age of 21 months, and also the Mom of a 20 year old boy(non-diabetic).  Hopefully, I can add to the insightful response from JDRF-Team-LRS.  There are also quite a few terrific and interesting responses in the Diabetes Forum's archives that you may want to read before approaching your son.

At the age of 20, it is going to be very difficult for you to get through with anything new that he should not already know about drugs.  After years of being educated in school as to the ill effects that drugs can have on their lives, it seems amazing that kids are still willing to try them.  So much for the tax dollars spent on the War on Drugs!  Anyway, I feel that the importance of your discussion should be your sons' diabetes and taking good care of himself.  You didn't mention how long he has had diabetes, but this may have some bearing on why he may be willing to jeopardise "good health" for a "good time".  My daughter was diagnosed at such an early age that she doesn't remember what it was like to not have diabetes.  We have always taught her that she needs to take good care of herself now, so that she will be healthy and complication-free when she grows up.  Many kids that are diagnosed when they are pre-teen or teenagers, have a much more difficult time accepting this major change in their lives.  Think about it, at a time in your life when you are supposed to be becoming more independent and responsible for yourself, you have to become so reliant on others for your well-being (your parents, your endocrinologist and other members of your healthcare team).  Talk about stress!  Perhaps, talking to him about his feelings regarding having diabetes and about how taking good care of himself is so important to his future welfare, might just be the key to opening the door and talking openly about his possible marijuana use.  Talk...talk...talk and talk some more!  Don't give up the communication because even though they are 20 and they don't think that they need us or our advice anymore, we know that they do and being there for them will always be our job!  You've done a terrific job in coming to us (please make sure you check out the other responses posted in the archives)and I wish you much luck!    

Avatar universal
Hello CheeChee,
A number of months ago, this topic came up a few times.  Many of us adults here grew up with diabetes and so we faced the opportunities to experiment with drugs including alcohol and marijuana.  I'm among those who experimented during my college years in the 1970s ... to the chagrin of my parents once they found out.  Drugs today are stronger, scarier and the underworld that provides them to "end users" is so very dangerous, too.  

In the 1970s, I had no way to monitor my blood sugar -- no home testing, no a1c.  Despite my experimentation, I thought I was responsible about it ;-).  I maintained good grades, job, and active college life.  I simply ignored the fact that using marijuana was illegal -- that "blind eye" was opened VERY WIDE however, when a college acquaintance was arrested & sent to Dannemora prison.

On an immediate & practical level, one result of using marijuana was that I was less able to/interested to resist temptations.  It's commonly reported that folks experience "munchies" ... our word in the 1970s for wanting to eat junk food and plenty of it.  Now while I doubt that marijuana by itself has any BG impact, certainly MUNCHIES do!  I actually "preferred" marijuana to alcohol for a "high" at that time, BECAUSE marijuana doesn't have calories.

Most marijuana users who are teens/20s are just as deaf to the truths behind warnings & lectures by their parents.  If your communication is open with your son, you might engage him in a conversation about your concerns for him (and any of his siblings) and simply encourage him to strive to take good care of himself now that he's an "adult".  If you can draw parallels to, perhaps, the way you & his dad are responsible drinkers and ask him to think about what a responsible "pot user" looks like, that might well bring some interesting, fruitful exchanges.

Just to put my experimentation into perspective, I completed college, grad school, and earned a PhD.  I'm now a professor, wife, parent, community volunteer, etc. etc.  I've had diabetes for ~35 years and am blessed to have had serious complications yet.  I no longer user marijuana, but honestly -- I think that, given my stage in life, it's largely due to the fact that it's illegal and that the supply chain lacks quality control.  

This is a very interesting topic and I expect you'll hear from plenty of others.  I particularly hope that some of the young adults who post here will contribute, too.

Avatar universal
Well, ive been a diabetic for a year, ya i know not long, but ive smoked marijuana threwout the whole year.  Not consitntly, but at partys, and whatnot, i smoke cause i cant drink safly. Marijunana isint a bigger risk to diabetics, then non diabetics, i dont think. Because the risk of u going low, is very very low, as you will have the munchies, and most likley go high.  I dont munch of junk food, barly at all. If im at home, id reach for a diet coke, some crackers and cheese maybe, i dono, but even that is reallllly good when your stoned.
Avatar universal
Thanks for your question.
I hope no one will mind my adding some info here as I do know alot about the subject, sensitive as it is.

I have over the past 12 months done a lot of research on this subject and to my surprise there is a surprising amount of literature on this subject out there:
Let me pre-emt this discussion by saying that I do not advocate the use of drugs, however, I have used Marijuana before my Type 1 diagnosis and cocnsistently (thougfh moderatly) since, I have discussed this at length with my doctors who given the results that I have experienced are happy for it to continue.
I have been experimenting on my self with BG test every 30mins or so, eating exactly the same meals at the same times to check the BG curve whist using and not using cannabis.
The result, startling at it was, consistently was the amplitude of the curve was considerably shallower with cannabis, I took it one step further and found that with a combination of cannabis and X-4 units of insulin my BG would simply not get above 11(198)
where as with the X units (4 more than previously) and the same food,(no canmnabis) the BG 15-60 mins after a large meal (identical meal to prior) would surpass 13.5 (243) for brief periods.

the conclusions and this is consistent with previous findings is that cannabis can be used in conjunction with insulin to "smooth out "the BG curve, this is why despite a relatively high sugar diet, my control is exemplary, my HAb1c is always well sub 6.0
but most importantly the curve, ie the extremities of high and low are never beyong the 4.5- 10 region (81-180).

I am a succesful entrepreneur and MD of my own company, the use of marijuana is the UK is legal for personal. (though not for sale). In conclusion, some groups advocate the use of Marajuana for treatment of diabetes exclusively, see medical marajuana .com though  obviously for type 1 insulin should not be used to replace insulin though can be used succesfully to complement it.

Let us not forget that it the high and lows that cause diabetic side effects, if one can keep the range of BG within the aforementioned ranges, the risk of complications tend to zero or at least decrease considerably.

The "munchies" as they are often refered to are just a healty person's way of dealing with a very mild Hypo, Cannabis LOWERS BG level, though an immunity will develop in time, this lowering normally causes the body to crave sugar and sweets in order to correct the low. In diabetics, it is not difficult to beat this feeling with will power, it ceases to be an issue after a short while.

I hope this info has been in some way helpful.

Kind regards,

Avatar universal
I'm 25 years old and have had type1 diabetes since i was four. I've smoked cannabis regularly for the last few years and, as a result, have indeed developed greater control over my condition. I used to have a problem with alcohol which has led to some retinopathy complicatons as well as depression and often violent moodswings. It amazes that, despite a wealth of evidence I have found for cannabis, as well as a growing amount of use and support around the world, some people still regard cannabis as more dangerous than alcohol. I have read reports which seem to suggest that a lot of people are being fed anti-drug propaganda which lumps cannabis in with other illegal substances. For example, many reports warn of users being 'out of it' and unable or unwilling to test their blood levels. On the contrary, I have found that being 'out of it' is the time I feel more worried about diabetes and more likely to test my sugar. This is the exact opposite of being 'out of it' on alcohol which leads not only to no testing, but no injections and dangerous fluctuations in those same levels. It seems that a lot of govermental action against cannabis( labelling it 'wacky-backy' and reporting made up instances of ' reefer madness') has scared a lot of people into thinking that cannabis users are irresponsible, lazy or just plain crazy! I firmly believe the opposite to be true and that it's alcohol that leads to the irresponsible and crazies on the street( here in Britain, we have an escalating 'yob culture as proof of this) I strongly object to being persecuted for my method of relaxation as I refuse to use alcohol now as it clearly leads to depression and violence( for myself and, I guarantee, many others) I will continue to campaign for the legalisation of this relatively harmless drug.
Avatar universal
I just wanted to add to this ongoing discussion by first stating that I am grateful to be living in a country where we are free to express our opinions openly and without fear of retribution.  I am also very grateful for the volunteers who give so much of themselves in trying to help others and make a difference in dealing with diabetes in their lives.
     No matter how many discussions we have or how many different points of view are brought out, smoking marijuana is illegal and cannot be condoned.  It's that simple.
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