AskDefine | Define detoxification

Dictionary Definition



1 a treatment for addiction to drugs or alcohol intended to remove the physiological effects of the addictive substances
2 treatment for poisoning by neutralizing the toxic properties (normally a function of the liver)

User Contributed Dictionary




  1. The act of removing toxins.

Related terms


Extensive Definition

Detox, short for detoxification, in general is the removal of toxic substances from the body. In conventional medicine, detoxification can also be achieved artificially by techniques such as dialysis and (in a very limited number of cases) chelation therapy. There is a firm scientific base in evidence-based medicine for this type of detoxification. Many alternative medicine practitioners promote various other types of detoxification such as "diet detoxification" but there's no evidence that detox diets have any health benefits.
Detoxification can also refer to the period of withdrawal during which a person's body to return to homeostasis after long-term use of an addictive substance.

Types of detoxification

Alcohol detoxification

Alcohol detoxification is a process by which a heavy drinker's system is brought back to normal after being used to having alcohol in the body on a continual basis. Serious alcohol addiction results in a decrease in production of GABA neuro-inhibitor because alcohol acts to replace it. Precipitous withdrawal from long-term alcohol addiction without medical management can cause severe health problems and can be fatal. Alcohol detox is not a treatment for alcoholism. After detoxification, other treatments must be undergone to deal with the underlying addiction that caused the alcohol use.

Drug detoxification

Drug detoxification is used to reduce or relieve withdrawal symptoms while helping the addicted individual adjust to living without drug use; drug detoxification is not meant to treat addiction but rather an early step in long-term treatment. Detoxification may be achieved drug free or may use medications as an aspect of treatment. Often drug detoxification and treatment will occur in a community program that lasts several months and takes place in a residential rather than medical center.

Metabolic detoxification

An animal's metabolism can produce harmful substances which it can then make less toxic through oxidation, conjugation and excretion of molecules from cells or tissues. This is called xenobiotic metabolism. Enzymes that are important in detoxification metabolism include cytochrome P450 oxidases, UDP-glucuronosyltransferasess, and glutathione S-transferases. These processes are particularly well-studied as part of drug metabolism, as they influence the pharmacokinetics of a drug in the body.

Alternative medicine

Certain approaches in alternative medicine claim to remove toxins from the body through herbal, electrical or electromagnetic treatments (such as the Aqua Detox treatment). These toxins are undefined and have little scientific basis, making the validity of such techniques questionable. There is no evidence for toxic accumulation in these cases, as the liver and kidneys automatically detoxify and excrete many toxic materials including metabolic wastes. Under this theory if toxins are too rapidly released without being safely eliminated (such as burning fat that stores toxins) they can damage the body and cause malaise.

Diet detoxification

Certain diets have an underlying assumption that the body accumulates toxins that must be removed, especially after periods of over-eating or the consumption of non-nutritious and processed foods. As with alternative medicine, the 'toxins' removed are undefined and are ascribed to foods, the environment and the body's own wastes.

Methods of drug detoxification

Drug detoxification varies depending on the location of treatment, but most detox centers provide treatment to avoid the symptoms of physical withdrawal to alcohol & other drugs. Most also incorporate counseling and therapy during detox to help with the consequences of withdrawal. Medical ozone therapy, activated oxygen, O3 beneficial effects: bacterial, viral inactivation, and circulatory enhancement.


detoxification in Spanish: Toxicomanía
detoxification in French: Détoxication
detoxification in Italian: Tossicodipendenza
detoxification in Lithuanian: Narkomanija
detoxification in Dutch: Afkicken
detoxification in Japanese: デトックス
detoxification in Polish: Detoks
detoxification in Portuguese: Desintoxicação
detoxification in Russian: Наркомания
detoxification in Serbian: Детоксикација
detoxification in Serbian: Зависност од дрога
detoxification in Finnish: Päihderiippuvuus
detoxification in Ukrainian: Наркоманія
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