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Benefits of Holistic Drug and Alcohol Detox

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Medically Reviewed Fact Checked

Last Updated on September 22, 2022 by Chris Weatherall

Holistic Drug and Alcohol Detox

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

When hearing the word detox, many instantly think of those with a drug or alcohol addiction.

While detox plays a major role in overcoming addiction, holistic detox can be beneficial for anyone. Detox is more than just an addiction treatment. Holistic detox is the process of removing any harmful toxins from the body. Not only are drugs and alcohol harmful, but so are the different chemical poisons that enter our bodies daily through pollution, household products, and more.

When you stop to think about it, almost everything in our life is contaminated with some type of chemical poison. There are toxins in our air, water, food, hygiene products, plastics, and more. These toxins can affect everyone differently. They can leave a person feeling sluggish, or even sick. Environmental toxins have been linked with cardiovascular disease.1

 Environmental toxins

Environmental toxins have also been linked with fertility issues in both men and women.2 The more we learn about how harmful these toxins can be, the more important it becomes to find healthy ways to remove these toxins from the body before they can create significant damage. The best method of removing these unwanted toxins is through a holistic detox process.

What Is Involved in Drug and Alcohol Detox?

There are a lot of misconceptions when it comes to what detoxing is and how it should be done. Numerous diets and supplements promise to provide the best detox possible for a variety of toxins. However, holistic detoxification provides healthier, long-lasting results. Holistic detoxing is designed to eliminate toxins from the body.

Removing these toxins can improve health and even promote weight loss. Toxins can be anything from pollutants, synthetic chemicals, heavy metals, processed foods, and drugs or alcohol. Many toxins are introduced to the body willingly, while others are nearly impossible to avoid.

knowledgeable health care provider

Most detoxing processes, especially those designed to aid in addiction recovery, are implemented by a knowledgeable health care provider. This ensures that the treatment is right for you and that it is done so safely. Abrupt cessation of heavy alcohol or certain drug use can be life-threatening and so can involve the necessity of medication to avoid these risks.
After safe cessation, which is commonly referred to as “detox”, there can still be harmful residues that remain and a person can benefit from a gentle cleansing of these using a more complete and gradual form of eliminating these toxins. Prescription medications can have harmful elements. Many individuals assume that prescription medications are safe since they are prescribed by a doctor. It is beneficial to understand that prescription drugs can affect your brain chemistry as well as the operations of your body. These drugs can accumulate in the fatty tissue of the body, which can cause serious, potentially harmful side effects. The body is equipped with natural detox mechanisms, but it is important not to overwhelm these by approaching the task too rapidly.

Not only can prescription drugs introduce harmful toxins to your body, but certain medications can also be highly addictive. This adds to the need to detox safely to prevent risks of withdrawal that can have life-altering side effects. That is why many individuals find themselves turning to holistic detox approaches that offer a solution beyond medication.

Detoxing best involves working with a healthcare provider to determine your needs. This should involve a detailed medical history to understand what toxins are most likely affecting your health. This includes medical history as well as lifestyle habits.

Your medical professional should perform detailed lab work to explore exactly what is happening when it comes to your bloodwork. This ensures that your holistic detox will be safe and effective. The detox itself may involve a variety of services and techniques such as healthy eating, exercising, and forms of holistic treatment such as acupuncture, meditation, and yoga.

How Long Does It Take for a Body Detox from Drugs and Alcohol?

How long a detox takes to work can depend on several factors. First of all, it can largely depend on what you are detoxing from. Substances such as alcohol, illegal drugs, and prescription drugs can linger in the body. They also can affect the brain chemistry and receptors within the body. This is why working with a professional is key to avoiding the risk of withdrawal. Withdrawal can be severe, and factors into how long it can take to detox.

Withdrawal can happen with both prescribed and non prescribed use of medications. 3 Withdrawal can result in a variety of side effects from fatigue, nausea, insomnia, paranoia, mood swings, and flu-like symptoms. The length of detox can also depend on the individual’s physical and mental functioning. A healthier person may not need as long of a detox process compared to someone who is in poorer health.

A complete body detox can take from days to months to work. Rapid detox methods include anesthesia-assisted opiate cessation which is completed in 4-8 hours but unfortunately, can be damaging to the individual due to the numerous changes, emotions, and physical symptoms all happening within a short amount of time. The holistic detoxification process focuses on a more gradual, attentive method of clearing toxins and restoring neurochemical health naturally.

Holistic detoxing focuses on the whole person

Holistic detoxing focuses on the whole person, including their physical, emotional, psychological, and spiritual state. This method may take longer than other approaches, but it provides superior results while minimizing the overwhelming effects that can be experienced during the detoxification process, compared to more rapid cessation.

What Does Detoxing from Drugs and Alcohol Feel Like?

The way detoxing makes a person feel can vary. This can depend on what it is you are clearing from your system. Addictive toxins, such as medications, alcohol, sugar, or caffeine affect your brain chemistry. Detoxing from these can cause feelings of fatigue, headaches, body aches, and in some instances, nausea. A person may also experience brain fog and a general feeling of irritability. Where no neurotransmitter support or physical comfort therapies are provided, these symptoms can be severe, and their intensity may linger for an extended period. The good news is that these symptoms typically reduce significantly or are gone within a short time where holistic support is provided.

To offset the less desirable feelings of detox, it is beneficial to rest as much as possible, stay hydrated, get outside, and get active. Detoxing may not feel great at first, but after the body begins to heal, and with adequate support, most individuals report feeling better than they have in years. This includes feeling lighter, more focused, more energetic, and more in tune with the body.

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What to Avoid While Detoxing

When detoxing, most patients are advised to avoid certain things. This could involve a person’s diet, such as avoiding processed foods, sugar, refined carbs, and caffeine, and sticking to clean healthy eating. Diet is a powerhouse when it comes to restoring health during and after drug and alcohol cessation. When following the right detox plan, you don’t have to give in to any gimmicks. You’ll want to focus on scientifically proven techniques that aid in natural detoxification.

Holistic Detox Options

When looking for ways to detox safely, there are numerous options. Whether you are looking to detox from alcohol, prescription drugs, or environmental toxins, the professionals at Alternative to Meds Center can help. Our center is dedicated to providing holistic detox approaches that are proven to help individuals naturally rid their bodies of a variety of harmful toxins. When considering what service is best for you, a medical professional will first run tests to determine what toxins are most likely affecting your health. This information helps to determine what holistic approach will be best for your unique situation.

Medication Tapering

This holistic detox approach is the practice of reducing the body’s exposure to prescription medication slowly and safely. This helps to reduce the risk of severe withdrawal symptoms. 4 Another method of detox considered by many is the cold turkey approach. This is abruptly stopping any kind of medication. However, this method presents several concerns, including the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms. This approach can be even more dangerous for older adults.

This is why medication tapering is a much safer option. This involves gradually decreasing the daily dose of a specific medication to completely stop the medicine use. This is a common practice for psychotropic and opioid medication that affects both the brain and the body. This detox method can take days, weeks, or even months. This depends on the medication itself as well as the patient’s response to the process.

Methods Used in Holistic Detox include:
  • Acupuncture
  • Massage therapy
  • Sauna therapy and ionic foot baths
  • Exercise
  • Diet modification and supplementation to repair neurochemistry



Acupuncture has been performed for centuries to help the body, mind, and soul restore balance. It is a traditional Chinese practice that involves gently placing thin, sterile, disposable needles into key points of the body. Ear acupuncture is often used to aid with the detox process. 5 Doing this helps to stimulate the central nervous system, release chemicals and toxins, and promote the body’s natural ability to detox and heal. Those who practice this method of detoxification often experience an immediate sense of calm and relaxation. This service can also reduce pain, improve energy levels, promote better sleep, and reduce any cravings or withdrawal symptoms.

Massage Therapy

A massage is more than just a way to treat yourself on occasion. Massages have several health benefits that can aid in the detoxification process. Massage therapy is often used in conjunction with other detoxing procedures. This helps to promote relaxation, which is beneficial to both physical and mental health. Massage therapy helps to promote circulation, increase oxygenation, and can even restore organ health.

Sauna Therapy and Ionic Footbaths

Sauna d

When used with other detox services, sauna therapy, and ionic footbaths can help further promote relaxation, which is good for the body and mind. Feeling warm and comfortable can help ease some of the unwanted side effects of the detoxification process. The skin is the largest detox organ in the body, and can efficiently shed harmful toxins without taxing the liver or other vital internal organs.


Exercise is a great way to naturally boost and maintain a healthy metabolism that aids in ridding the body of harmful toxins. Exercise can speed up the detox process, and fill your body and mind with natural feel-good chemicals. Exercise doesn’t have to be demanding. It can be as simple as going for a daily walk. Exercising outdoors can be even more beneficial. Getting out into nature and into the sunshine can help a person feel better both inside and out.

Nutrients and Enzymes

Focus on getting the right nutrients and enzymes your body needs. This includes nutrients such as glutathione which can aid in detoxification. Removing processed foods and focusing on clean foods such as fresh fruits, vegetables and proteins can aid in successful detoxing. Many herbal and micronutrient supplements can aid in recovery by providing mental health support during and after drug or alcohol cessation, and during general cleansing of toxins, including Ginkgo biloba, garlic, ginseng, lavender, passionflower, saffron, and chamomile 6

Power of Detox

There are potentially harmful toxins everywhere. While detox may be more commonly associated with alcohol or drug recovery, even prescription drugs can be dangerous to a person’s body and mind. In addition to drugs, our environment is filled with toxins. These toxins have infiltrated all aspects of our lives from the food we eat, the water we drink, and the items we have in our homes. Detoxification can help restore the body and mind naturally. While some methods rely on different medications to ensure the safety of the person, there are holistic options that can be blended to provide optimal results in ways that are completely safe, natural, and drug-free.


1.Pizzorno, J. (2022). Environmental Toxins and Cardiovascular Disease. In Nutritional and Integrative Strategies in Cardiovascular Medicine (pp. 281-291). CRC Press. Accessed 6/15/2022 from

2. Mima, M., Greenwald, D., & Ohlander, S. (2018). Environmental toxins and male fertility. Current urology reports, 19(7), 1-8.

3.Fava, G. A., Benasi, G., Lucente, M., Offidani, E., Cosci, F., & Guidi, J. (2018). Withdrawal symptoms after serotonin-noradrenaline reuptake inhibitor discontinuation: a systematic review. Psychotherapy and Psychosomatics, 87(4), 195-203.

4. Horowitz, M. A., & Taylor, D. (2019). Tapering of SSRI treatment to mitigate withdrawal symptoms. The Lancet Psychiatry, 6(6), 538-546.

5. Litscher, G. (2019). Ear Acupuncture according to the NADA (National Acupuncture Detoxification Association). Medicines, 6(2), 44.

6. Yeung KS, Hernandez M, Mao JJ, Haviland I, Gubili J. Herbal medicine for depression and anxiety: A systematic review with assessment of potential psycho-oncologic relevance. Phytother Res. 2018 May;32(5):865-891. doi: 10.1002/ptr.6033. Epub 2018 Feb 21. PMID: 29464801; PMCID: PMC5938102.

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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