Detox is a popular word in pop culture. It sounds nice to be able to purge your body of all the excess chemicals and toxins that are muddying up your systems. Detox kits are products or diets that purport to have all you need to squeeze every last bit of unwanted chemicals from your body.
If you have a substance use disorder, it may sound especially attractive. You know that getting off a drug is going to be uncomfortable. If something can make you feel better faster, it’s worth a shot, right? The word detox is thrown around on morning talk shows, and by pseudo-medical authorities like Dr. Oz, so it must be legitimate. Right?
However, detox can mean a lot of different things. There are, of course, methods to ease the discomfort of detox to some degree and there are ways to get through drug withdrawal safely. Detox detox kits are sold online, and you may even find recipes to make your own. Are these viable alternatives to medical detox programs?
Learn more about how the body works to cleanse your system and how drug detox at home kits offer more fiction than fact.
What Is A Detox Kit?
Detox kits are used for two main reasons: to cleanse the body of toxins or to remove traces of a drug in your system. Both uses are extremely popular among health nuts and people who need to pass drug tests. However, there is very little evidence that they do much for either use.
Detox kits can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They may be sold online or in head shops as expensive supplements that contain fiber and “detox liquid” or other nondescript terms. Some detox mixtures contain a wide variety of exotic sounding all-natural ingredients that can run you well over $100 for one container.
However, one of the most famous detox methods is actually fairly cheap, and something you’re able to make at home. The Master Cleanse is just water, lemon juice, and sometimes syrup and cayenne pepper. In many cases, these detox kits and diets come with dietary instructions and a time table as to how long you should do it.
Detox Kits Debunked
Detox kits and cleansing with supplements or diets has grown into a huge industry. So big, in fact, that there have been many studies that look into the effects of these detox kits and cleanses. Up to now, the idea of the dietary cleanse has been all but completely debunked by scientific research and medical professionals are generally at a loss as to why people still do it. If you look up a YouTube vlogger who touts the benefits of detox diets, you might hear something like, “People don’t realize that we have so many stored toxins in our bodies.” But that’s not necessarily true.
A wide variety of chemicals can be toxic in excessive amounts including oxygen and water. However, it takes large amounts for them to reach toxicity. Your body is designed for you to be able to breathe air, drinking water, and eat food of many different kinds. You will encounter all kinds of chemicals, substances, and particulates in your daily life that your body is prepared to process.
Your liver and kidneys are designed to filter out unwanted items that make their way into your body. And they are pretty good at their job. Alcohol can be toxic at much lower doses than oxygen, but even that can be successfully filtered out when you moderate how much you consume.
Why Do Detox Cleanses Seem To Work?
People report feeling focused and clear-headed during the master cleanse. People who use detox say they helped allow them to pass drug tests with flying colors. If detox cleanses are all fake, why do they seem to work? There are several reasons that detox methods seem to have some effects.
For instance, the Master Cleanse involves dramatically decreasing your calorie intake. When your body is low on calories, it can divert some of the energy it would use to digest food and use it to fuel your brain. This physiological feature allows you to focus and find food when it’s most important. However, a calorie deficit will result in fatigue and other issues if it goes on for too long.
Intermittent fasting, which is what some of these cleanses encourage, does have a few proven benefits. However, it has less to do with removing so-called toxins from your system and more to do with calorie restriction and giving your digestive system a break.
Do Drugs Leave Toxins?
Everyday living and eating usually don’t leave harmful toxins in your system that your liver and kidneys can’t take care of. But what about when you don’t moderate well enough with substances like drugs or alcohol? Your liver cleans your blood by removing chemicals that might harm the rest of your body. However, when you drink too much alcohol or take drugs, the psychoactive chemical gets past your liver and makes its way to your brain. Most drugs then affect your brain’s communication pathways and cause or influence the release of feel-good chemicals in your body. After repeated use, your brain will get used to the presence of these chemicals in your body and come to depend on them.
If you stop using your drug of choice abruptly, you will start to feel uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms aren’t necessarily occurring because of the existence of a toxin, but because of the lack of one. When your brain adapts to the presence of a psychoactive substance, it will balance your neural chemistry around the drug. When you stop using, your brain chemistry will become unbalanced, leading to withdrawal.
Medical detox lasts for about a week (between five and 10 days). After a few days, most drugs will have left your system. For instance, alcohol has a half-life of about four hours, and you will stop feeling its effects after six to 16 hours depending on how much you drink. However, after developing a chemical dependence, you will continue to feel withdrawal symptoms long after the drug has left your system. Even though the so-called toxins have left your body, it takes time for your brain to re-adapt to life without the chemical.
A drug may become toxic in large doses, which leads to an overdose. Alcohol may slow your breathing, impair your concentration or cause an irregular heartbeat or pancreatitis. During an overdose, medical attention is needed to alleviate the toxic effects of a drug.
What Makes Withdrawal Dangerous?
It is possible to experience mild withdrawal symptoms or severe, life-threatening ones. Your withdrawal experience will be greatly influenced by the kind of drug you become dependent on. For example, if you stop taking marijuana after a long period of heavy use, you may experience mild anxiety, sleep problems, and general discomfort.
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms are much more severe if you quit abruptly after using it long-term. It is also possible to experience withdrawal symptoms more intensely if you quit suddenly. Withdrawal symptoms can be more severe when you quit cold turkey than if you taper off gradually over time. For some people, quitting abruptly is the quickest way to achieve sobriety, but you should speak with a doctor first since some drugs can cause potentially life-threatening withdrawal.
Your withdrawal symptoms can also intensify if you’ve been dependent on a drug for a long time. After just a few weeks of binging, someone who has just developed alcohol dependence may not experience the same withdrawal symptoms as someone dependent on alcohol for a long time.
Is Medical Detox Worth the Risk?
Is detox even worth the risk if it is potentially dangerous? Medical treatment and guidance can significantly lower your detox risks. Medical treatment can reduce the risk of serious medical complications despite discomfort.
Addiction, however, is an inherently dangerous disease. Despite feeling in control during the early stages of addiction, it can quickly take over your life. To deal with uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, you may arrange your day to find, buy, and take drugs.
It may be necessary to use higher drug doses more often as your substance use problem worsens and you become tolerant.
Alcohol, for instance, takes its toll over time. In addition to straining relationships, losing your job, and other socioeconomic problems, alcoholism can also negatively affect your health. The long-term effects of alcohol abuse can include a variety of cancers, liver diseases, and other severe health conditions. In addition to their long-term health effects, illicit drugs may also lead to your death quickly.
The use of illicit drugs is unpredictable. When you buy cocaine or heroin, you may not realize that you are actually buying a mix of drugs and other adulterants. Cocaine and heroin have been found to contain the powerful synthetic drug fentanyl in recent years.
It takes as little as 2 mg (milligrams) of fentanyl to cause a fatal overdose in the average adult. The use of illicit drugs is also associated with a higher risk of infectious diseases, especially if the drug is injected intravenously.
It is crucial to keep in mind that each dose of an illicit drug can be potentially fatal. Substance abuse disorders should be addressed as soon as possible. Compared to the risks of active addiction, withdrawal risks are negligible with treatment.
What’s Involved in the Detox Process?
The highest level of addiction treatment is medical detoxification, which involves 24-hour medical supervision. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to detox. A taper medication may be prescribed to help you come off of the drug gradually. Symptoms will be monitored and treated by doctors to prevent complications from occurring or addressing them quickly.
The psychological and social components of addiction may also be treated during detox through therapy sessions. In most cases, detox lasts five and 10 days before you transition to the next level of care appropriate for you. Medical care reduces your chances of experiencing serious medical issues, which is the primary goal of detox.
Seeking Addiction Treatment Today
Addiction is a chronic disease that primarily affects the brain’s reward center. On your own, severe substance use disorders can be incredibly difficult and even dangerous to overcome.
Because some drugs can be potentially dangerous during withdrawal symptoms, it’s important to speak to a medical professional before attempting to detox. The safest way to achieve sobriety is to go through a medical detox program, and the most effective way to prevent relapse is to go through addiction treatment.
To learn more about your addiction treatment options, you can speak to an addiction treatment specialist at Serenity at Summit. Call 844-432-0416 at any time to hear about the therapy options that are available to you. Addiction may be a chronic disease, but it’s one that’s treatable. Call anytime to start your road to recovery.