Insuln Abuse (Continued)
What can you do?
Her biggest piece of advice? "Talk to your kids about insulin. Make sure they understand that it can easily kill someone that doesn't have diabetes," she said. "People with diabetes have to go through lots of training to use insulin properly, and even so, I'm sure there are many emergency room trips due to dosing errors among people with diabetes. It's also important to explain to them that insulin does not produce any sort of high."
Certified Diabetes Educator Barbara Nadolny says this is good advice, confirming that it is important to educate loved ones about insulin. Here are the two main points she thinks everyone should know about insulin:
- Insulin is a life-saving medicine that is prescribed in tiny doses that are specific to the individual. Make sure your loved ones know that insulin lowers blood glucose, and if taken incorrectly, even a small dose can cause a hypoglycemic episode that could be deadly.
- Insulin will not get you high. It is also incredibly important to stress that although the symptoms of low blood sugar may mimic the signs of being drunk, there is absolutely no euphoric feeling associated with low blood sugar — conversely, it feels awful.
Talk to your CDE about ways to have these conversations with your family. It is also quite common for family members to attend diabetes education classes with a loved one. Your teenager could accompany you to a session and hear the essential information from a trained professional, and you could then continue the conversation at home.
No matter why someone is abusing insulin, the main danger is the most obvious, hypoglycemia. This danger combined with the likelihood that they are keeping their insulin use a secret, even from friends and family, makes it even more imperative to have open, informative conversations to take some of the mystery out of the insulin equation.
Meagan Esler, a freelance writer based in Chicago, contributed to this article. Meagan has been featured in Diabetic Living magazine and is a contributor for the Diabetes Health magazine and website.
Reviewed by Jason C. Baker, MD. 8/12
- Castillo, E. and R. Comstock. 2007. Prevalence of use of performance-enhancing substances among United States adolescents. Pediatric Clinical North America 54:66-75.
- Hold, R. I. G. and P. H. Sonksen. 2008. Growth hormone, IGF-I and insulin and their abuse in sport. British Journal of Pharmacology 154:542-556.
- Rogol, Alan D. 2010. Drugs of abuse and the adolescent athlete. Italian Journal of Pediatrics 36(19):1-6.
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