Should I drink alcohol? In Australia, drinking alcohol is generally acceptable and for many people is a normal part of social events. However, for as long as alcohol has been used and enjoyed, some people have experienced problems associated with it. Most people with diabetes can enjoy a small amount of alcohol. However, it’s best to discuss it first with your diabetes healthcare team. For people who are on insulin or the sulfonylurea class of diabetes tablets, alcohol may increase the risk of hypoglycaemia (‘hypos’), often many hours after drinking the alcohol. Guidelines Limit your alcohol intake if you choose to drink. Current Australian guidelines recommend no more than ten standard drinks per week for both men and women, with no more than four standard drinks consumed on any one day. No alcohol is recommended for women who are pregnant or breastfeeding and for children and people under 18 years of age. One standard drink is equal to: 100 mL wine (13.5% alcohol) 260 mL regular beer (4.8% alcohol) 30 mL spirits (40% alcohol) 60 mL fortified wine (17.5% alcohol) 375 mL mid-strength alcohol beer (3.5% alcohol) 470 mL low-strength alcohol beer (2.7% alcohol). To check how much alcohol is in your drink go to the standard drinks guide provided by the Australian Department of Health. If you have the choice of a low alcohol drink or a low carb drink, such as beer, choose the low alcohol drink as there is less impact on your health. It is fine to not drink alcohol at all. There is no evidence to suggest alcohol provides health benefits. Alcohol increases blood pressure and may interfere with the action of your medications. Discuss your alcohol intake with your healthcare team. If you choose to drink alcohol have it with a meal or some carbohydrate-containing food and drink water or a non-alcoholic drinks between alcoholic drinks. If you take insulin or the sulfonylurea class of medication, make sure you have a hypo treatment on hand and someone accompanying you knows how to recognise and treat a hypo. Monitor your blood glucose levels regularly as you may have difficulty in recognising a hypo. For those who are trying to manage their weight, it is a good idea to cut down your alcohol intake as it is high in kilojoules. It is important to remember: If you are taking insulin or the sulfonylurea class of diabetes tablets drinking alcohol can cause hypoglycaemia many hours after drinking Too much alcohol can increase the risk of developing complications by making weight management difficult and by increasing blood pressure Low alcohol or ‘lite’ beers are a better choice than regular or diet beers because they are lower in alcohol When mixing drinks use low joule/diet mixers such as diet cola, diet ginger ale, diet tonic water. Read more about diabetes and alcohol.