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Do Detox Drinks Work to Alleviate Opioid Withdrawal?

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Your body is full of toxins, and there’s only one way to get them out: by drinking your fill of an all-natural detox beverage. At least, those are the claims of many detox drink and juice cleanse proponents. In reality, your liver and kidneys are designed to filter out toxins, and unless you’re putting something in your body with a high enough toxicity to damage your body, your kidneys and liver are pretty good at their jobs. 

But what if your body is full of a powerful drug like an opioid

Opioids are leading the addiction epidemic that’s plaguing the United States. If you or someone you love is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to opioids such as heroin or prescription painkillers, can detox drinks flush the substance from their system? Will that allow your loved one to get through uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms more quickly? To answer that, it’s important to look at what diet drinks claim to do and how they actually work. It’s also important to learn more about what causes withdrawal symptoms.

How Do Detox Drinks Work?

A detox drink can range from the all-natural lemon water variety to complicated tinctures full of superfoods from far off places. However, the gold standard of detox drinks seems to be the master cleanse, a 10-day long fasting period in which you only drink lemon water which may also contain maple salt, syrup or pepper. 

The Master Cleanse is reported to help people lose weight, feel more energized, and purge their bodies of harmful toxins. It’s true that the master cleanse will cause you to purge and flush out your digestive system and even Master Cleanse advocates advise you to have quick access to a bathroom. But doctors warn that the cleanse doesn’t give you the proper nutrients you need to fuel your body. 

Other detox drinks are simpler than a 10-day cleanse. Just buy a bottle of some all natural, herbal, healthy soup and drink the whole thing. And they are expensive; some can cost up to $60, but most are between $13 and $30. 

These drinks contain between 10 and 20 ingredients like cranberry extract, pomegranate, vitamins, purpurea leaf extracts, and other obscure substances. Some are even specially made to help you beat pre-employment drug tests, to mixed results. A quick overview of Amazon reviews will reveal that it worked like a charm for some while others were left with no job and a body full of toxins. 

Detox beverages may not specifically claim to ease opioid withdrawal symptoms or speed up the process, but it stands to reason that if you purge your body of the drug’s toxins, you’ll go back to feeling normal, right?

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works.

What Causes Opioid Withdrawal?

When you take heroin intravenously, it will reduce to half of its concentration in your bloodstream after only a few minutes. After 30 minutes, it’s difficult to detect in your blood at all. After a few days, there’s a chance that it may not be picked up in a urine test. So, if your body is so good at processing out heroin, why do you still feel withdrawal after several days? 

Opioid withdrawal symptoms aren’t caused because of toxins in your system. Technically, they are caused because there isn’t enough of an opioid in your system. Opioid withdrawal occurs after you have become chemically dependent on a drug like heroin. 

Heroin (and other opioids) is a psychoactive chemical that interferes with normal brain functioning. But the human brain is very adaptable. After several uses, your brain and body will start to adapt to the presence of the drug. It will even start to integrate it into your normal brain chemistry. That means that it will start to rely on the drug to maintain a neurochemical balance. If you stop using the drug, you’ll start to feel the consequences of a sudden imbalance. Because opioids affect receptors that control pain management all over the body, you’ll feel whole-body symptoms that are similar to the flu.

The withdrawal detox process is all about your brain and body working to return to normal neurochemical levels after becoming chemically dependent on a drug. However, the opioids in your system can affect your withdrawal timeline. Detox beverages could conceivably cause you to experience withdrawal symptoms earlier, but once withdrawal starts, it won’t have much bearing on the severity or duration of the process.

Treating Opioid Withdrawal

Opioid withdrawal is an uncomfortable process. Many people who go through it describe it as one of the worst cases of flu they’ve ever experienced. Opioid withdrawal isn’t typically life-threatening, but it can be difficult to get through on your own. In some cases, symptoms like diarrhea, sweating, and vomiting can lead to dehydration, which can cause medical complications. With that in mind, getting the right nutrition during detox can help alleviate some symptoms. For instance, getting proper hydration can help to avoid dehydration headaches. 

In a medical detox program, you may be treated with medications to maintain your safety and keep you as comfortable as possible. Many addiction treatment facilities also have a nutritionist on staff to help make sure your body is getting the fuel it needs to get through the detox process. However, opioid medical detox will essentially be like going through a weeklong flu with medical help. The most important thing, in terms of nutrition, will be to get plenty of fluids. But you may also be given vitamins and nutritionally beneficial foods to help improve the way you feel.

The Best Way to Detox

Though opioid withdrawal can be extremely uncomfortable, dehydration can sometimes lead to medical emergencies. Plus, opioid withdrawal can also come with intense drug cravings that will be difficult to resist, especially when you feel sick from withdrawal symptoms. The best way to get through detox is to seek medical supervision and treatment.

If symptoms are severe, you may be able to check into a hospital, and they’ll help you avoid any potentially dangerous complications. However, a medical detox facility is the best option. It involves 24-hour care from medical professionals who are specialized in drug detox and addiction treatment. 

Medical detox is especially helpful if you’ve used other drugs that may also be in your system, especially alcohol and benzodiazepines, which can both cause life-threatening withdrawal symptoms. After detox, a medical detox center is also equipped to help you find the next step in addiction treatment. Opioid addiction is notoriously difficult to overcome on your own, and it usually takes more than a week of detox to achieve long-lasting sobriety. On-staff clinicians can evaluate your needs and connect you to the next level of care that’s right for you. 

If you or someone you love is struggling with opioid dependence or addiction, there is help available to lead you to lasting recovery. Speak to an addiction treatment specialist at Ocean Breeze Recovery to learn more about addiction treatment and your opioid detox options. 

Addiction is a chronic disease, but it’s one that’s treatable with the right therapies and services. But each individual is different and requires a unique treatment approach. Call 855-960-5341 to learn more about addiction treatment and the options that are available to you.

Sources

Darke, S., Larney, S., & Farrell, M. (2016, August 11). Yes, people can die from opiate withdrawal. Retrieved from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1111/add.13512

Jenkins, A. J., Keenan, R. M., Henningfield, J. E., & Cone, E. J. (1994, October). Pharmacokinetics and pharmacodynamics of smoked heroin. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/7823539

Thompson, C. (2018, February 16). These Detox Drinks Might Actually Help You Pass a Drug Test. Retrieved from https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/59kymq/we-tested-drinks-that-say-theyll-help-you-pass-a-drug-test

U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.). Master Cleanse (Lemonade Diet). Retrieved from https://health.usnews.com/best-diet/master-cleanse-lemonade-diet/health-and-nutrition

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