Q: What is detox?
A: Detox is a form of treatment that removes a person from a toxic substance to which he or she is addicted. Detox can be useful, but physical withdrawal produces much discomfort, so substitutes may be employed to ease the transition. For example, nicotine patches are often used by people trying to quit smoking, allowing them to gradually wean themselves from nicotine without the adverse symptoms that can occur when quitting cold turkey—such as diarrhea, irritability, upset stomach, headache, sleeplessness and fatigue.
For heroin and narcotic withdrawal, detox is most safely done in a treatment setting, to help with the acute physical and emotional consequences of withdrawal. A substance abuse specialist can prescribe medicines if needed. Find out more information about treatment centers.
Michael F. Roizen, MD, is Professor of Internal Medicine and Anesthesiology, Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of the Wellness Institute at the Cleveland Clinic. He has co-founded 12 companies, including the popular websites RealAge.com and YOUBeauty.com.
Mehmet C. Oz, MD, is Vice-Chair and Professor of Surgery at Columbia University and director of the Cardiovascular Institute and Complementary Medicine Program at New York Presbyterian Hospital. His TV show—The Dr. Oz Show— recently won its third Emmy, with Dr. Oz his second as the best daytime talk show host.