But what if a patient could toss all those pills and insulin needles?
A recent report says you can put diabetes into remission.
Remission in people with Type 2 Diabetes, that's linked to being overweight, have thrown away their medications because their illness is under control with diet and exercise.
That's easy to say, but it's extremely hard to do.
Recent research in the Journal of the American Medical Association report says constant direction and support is the way to make it happen.
This is a pain in the finger for most people with diabetes.
13-year-old Audrey Lee is used to it. She gets to see that her blood sugar is under control. It was a shock two years ago when she was told she had Type 2 Diabetes.
"I really didn't know what it meant until someone sat down and described what it meant, really helped you understand what it is," Lee said.
Having a health professional like Audrey's explain the need for exercise and diet is critical to reversing the disease.
As a matter of fact, the more of this support the better says the recent study.
It found that intense counseling over months and months on diet and exercise helped put patients into partial or complete remission better than short term support.
"Behavior change for all of us is hard, this is a marathon, not a sprint. We all have habits, health habits and we fall back on what might not be the best habits," said Dr. Robin Goland, NY Presbyterian-Columbia Hospital.
Longer support led to better outcomes.
Audrey recently lost six pounds.
"It was hard, it was hard," Lee said.
Not so for Natalie Robins.
She attended just one session with a dietician when she was diagnosed, and she's lost 40 pounds over 13 years.
She exercises every day as well.
She still needs drugs to control her sugar, but the dose is stable.
"By eating and exercising better, I don't have to go on to insulin or increase the medication anymore," Robbins said.
Natalie though is the exception among people with diabetes.
"It's a lot harder to take care of than you might think and they deserve support because what they're doing is hard," Dr. Goland said.
This was one of the largest scientific examinations of long duration support for lifestyle changes in Type 2 Diabetes.
It suggests that remission from the disease is possible.
You can do it, but the key to success is changing ingrained habits with hard work over a lifetime.
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