I Lied to My Doctor About My Drinking

Am I an alcoholic?

Posted Jan 18, 2019

Source: Pexels

I am at high risk for diabetes/prediabetes—being a 73-year-old male is two risk factors right there. And I am above recommended weight level for my height.  

According to the CDC, 100 million Americans, or a third of Americans, have diabetes or prediabetes (about 10 million the former, 90 million the latter).


  • Rates of diagnosed diabetes increased with age... among those ages 65 years and older, 25 percent had diabetes.
  • More men (36.6 percent) had prediabetes than women (29.3 percent).

I don’t have diabetes. But I have achieved that diagnosis in the past, and I am prediabetic by these criteria:

  • An A1C level of 6.5 percent or higher on two separate tests indicates that you have diabetes. An A1C between 5.7 and 6.4 percent indicates prediabetes. Below 5.7 is considered normal.

My last A1C blood test, unmedicated, was 5.9. 

When I saw my NYU endocrinologist one morning this week (an alarmingly young woman—the older male who was previously my doctor recently retired), we discussed any factors that might have influenced my mildly elevated blood sugar level that morning. I said that I had had alcohol mixed with fruit juice.

My doctor raised her eyebrows—“you had a mimosa?” That suggested I had had a special holiday drink.

I nodded vigorously.

I lied. I had had a screwdriver—vodka mixed with orange juice. Not too much orange juice, which has too much sugar, per my daughter’s cautions. (Plus water, ice, and a digestive aid—my daughter: “What’s that drink called, pops?”)

I have that drink every morning, which I didn’t want to reveal.

You see, I believe the data are unambiguous that moderate drinking prolongs life, a point of view that I have published in the American Journal of Public Health.

Moreover, research consistently shows moderate drinking to retard diabetes*.

I know—you’re worried that I’m going to die of cancer, for which drinking is about a 5 percent causative factor. Or get heart disease, for which alcohol is a substantial retardant, is the major killer of Americans, especially men like me. Thus older Americans who drink live longer, according to the New England Journal of Medicine in the largest prospective study of drinking and mortality ever conducted.

Which is why I drink daily. (My daughter gave me a large bottle of vodka for my birthday.)

But I didn’t want to get into that with my doctor.

So, am I an alcoholic?

* After adjusting for diet, family history of diabetes, high blood pressure, physical activity, smoking and other factors, they found that compared with abstainers, men who drank 14 drinks a week had a 43 percent lower risk of diabetes, and women who drank nine drinks a week a 58 percent lower risk.