Detox Drinks: Will They Help?
For many people beginning their recovery journey, detox is the first step in the process. Detox is the process of returning the body to a “neutral state,” free from drugs or alcohol. When researching methods for how to detox safely, you may find many different options — including detox drinks.
Detox drinks purport to help manage the detox process. While they are not entirely unhelpful, detox and withdrawal are complex medical processes and detox drinks are largely untested and unproven.
Drinking Away Withdrawal
Addiction to drugs and alcohol can cause changes in a person’s brain. These changes can make it very difficult to stop using substances. When an individual decides it’s time to begin the recovery process they may look to supplements like detox drinks to jump start of manage detoxification.
However, the discontinuation of drugs or alcohol puts the body and brain into a situation where they are unable to properly function without substances, an effect known as withdrawal. Some signs of withdrawal include:
- Flu-like symptoms.
- Nausea and diarrhea.
- Anxiety and mood swings.
- High blood pressure.
- Muscle and joint pain.
In cases of long-term or polydrug use, the use of detox supplements may be effective in treatment. Substances such as benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids can cause severe withdrawal symptoms, such as hallucinations, psychosis, and seizures, and may require round-the-clock supervision to minimize their impact.
Substances to Help with Withdrawal
During medical detox, doctors and healthcare providers may administer medications to ease some of the more severe symptoms, such as anti-anxiety or anti-nausea drugs. In medication-assisted treatment, Methadone may be used to help people struggling with opioid addiction break their dependence on the narcotic. For alcohol use disorder, acamprosate or disulfiram may be used to manage physical withdrawal effects.
Detox drinks present themselves as more natural alternatives than, for example, the non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications, such as ibuprofen, that may be administered to reduce swelling and joint pain or the anticonvulsant drugs to treat seizures that may be used in cases of chronic or severe drug use.
Multivitamin Drinks and Supplements
Multivitamins and other supplements can provide some benefit to individuals who need additional nutritional resources during and after the detox process. However, their use as an effective detoxification solution is largely untested and unproven. Some of these supplements include:
- Vitamin C supplements. Drug abuse can deplete the body of its vitamin C stores. Vitamin C supplements can help to boost the immune system and reduce oxidative stress, which is the disparity between the production of free radicals and the ability of the body to offset their harmful effects through the use of antioxidants. Oxidative stress is a natural process that occurs as the body returns to normal following withdrawal, and vitamin C supplements have been found to reduce the resultant blood pressure.
- Vitamin E supplements. Individuals may use these supplement to restore proper functioning of blood cells, for the repair of skin damage. Intravenous drug use can cause abscesses, and the use of some stimulants can cause some people to compulsively pick or scratch their skin because of the anxiety, agitation, or hallucinations associated with the drugs.
- Vitamin B supplements. Some individuals find B vitamins to be useful in calming nerves and managing stress. A B-complex vitamin could help in restoring balance to the nervous system, easing stress on all the body systems that are struggling under the addiction and withdrawal itself.
- Calcium and magnesium drinks. These supplements can help people to calm their anxiety, as well as relieve muscle tension and cramping that often come with detoxification.
Liver Restoration and Natural Products
The liver is responsible for storing toxins from the breakdown of substances, and prescription painkiller abuse can put severe stress on this organ. Many medications like Vicodin, Percocet or Lortab contain acetaminophen, which can cause liver failure if they are taken excessively.
Proper nutrition is vital in recovery from drug addiction, and supplements for the liver are advertised as a form of accelerating the process of withdrawal. Detox drinks to aid the liver to full functionality are popular, such as milk thistle, N-acetylcysteine, and alpha-lipoic acid.
Other detox drinks include herbal remedies of questionable scientific and medical efficacy. Glutamine drinks have been said to ease strong cravings for more drugs during withdrawal, while taurine is supposed to ease the discomfort of opioid withdrawal. Tryptophan and melatonin supplements are suggested for insomnia and other sleep disturbances.
Are Detox Drinks Safe?
The biggest caveat surrounding detox drinks, and whether they will help in withdrawal, is that evidence-based research is scant on their effectiveness. The established literature on the subject strongly recommends withdrawing from drugs and alcohol with professional addiction support, whether in an inpatient or outpatient setting.
Doctors and healthcare providers should always be consulted before any detox drinks are consumed because the body is very vulnerable following addiction and withdrawal. Furthermore, the contents of detox drinks could cause adverse reactions with any medications that are being administered during the withdrawal process.
If, in consultation with your addiction treatment team and healthcare provider, you start taking supplementary drinks or vitamins, it is generally recommended that they should be only be taken as a supplement to treatment.Medically administered detox drugs may have interactions with supplements, which could possibly create additional problems if the substances are taken together.
Since detox drinks are still largely untested and unverified, it is best to err on the side of caution. Your healthcare provider will be able to recommend the best dosage that may provide a nutritional benefit, while still ensuring that the body’s systems are allowed to heal and achieve balance — even as the withdrawal medication is at work.
Drug and Alcohol Addiction Treatment
If you are worried about your drug or alcohol use, or are concerned about someone you love, finding out more about your treatment options is an important first step. When choosing a detox program, there are a number of factors to consider. Things like the type of substance addiction, how long you have been addicted, cost of treatment, location of treatment programs, and your personal commitment to recovery are all important considerations.
Making this important decision can feel overwhelming, but we’re here to help you. The compassionate and knowledgable admission navigators at River Oaks are here to help answer any questions you may have. Contact us today at to learn more about our levels of care, paying for treatment, and the admissions process. You can also
When you’re ready to take the first step onto the road to recovery, we’re here to support you.