Last updated:

May 5, 2024


 min read

Understanding Dopamine Detox: What It Is and How It Works

Discover the concept of dopamine detox, its benefits, and how to implement it effectively. Learn about the advantages, factors of adjustment, and why it's gaining attention in today's tech-centric world.



People frequently spend significant amounts of their leisure time staring at a screen in our rapidly tech-filled environment, whether they are watching videos on YouTube, Netflix, Instagram, TikTok, or Twitter. However, some young people are worried about their welfare due to their constant media exposure, and many are looking to "dopamine detoxes" as a potential remedy. A dopamine detox, also known as a dopamine fast, entails giving up almost everything that one could find enjoyable, including food, sex, and social interaction. The supporters claim that by doing this, many contemporary illnesses will be cured, chief among them being poor motivation and lack of attention (Fei et al., 2021).

As everyone is aware, dopamine is a "happy hormone" linked to pleasure, reward, and motivation—it keeps you moving and drives you to strive for goals. Dopamine is a key neurotransmitter, and having too little or too much of it in your system can have an adverse effect on your mental health. Mental health problems and brain illnesses are linked to low dopamine levels. There are a variety of detoxification regimes, diets, and therapies all around with the aim of promoting health. Some of the methods include drinking only juices or similar beverages, using herbs, of which reducing environmental exposures, and fasting are largely acknowledged.

What Is Dopamine Detox?

The concept of dopamine detox was brought about to help clients get away from their dependence on certain stimuli or habits, like social media notifications, phone reminders and texts. Based on cognitive behaviour therapy, the goal is to let individuals feel bored or lonely and to try simpler activities. This way, they start to recognize how certain habits or stimuli may distract them. 

Social media has come about with a more hypothetical explanation, more like a solution to help with these unwanted behaviours. They say that when the activities such as habits or devices  that overstimulate them, are eliminated, the brain functioning shall return to normal, with a normal level of dopamine levels as well. And this in turn leads to greater sense of reward, feeling successful at work, exercise, personal life, with an increase in productivity.

How Does Dopamine Detox Work ?

According to Sepah, online library wiley, who actually brought about the concept of dopamine fasting, says that it does not decrease the amount of dopamine in our brain, but focuses on reducing the unwanted repulsive behaviours. Sepah proposes that the fundamental idea of classical conditioning underlies behaviours that are addictive. After picking up your phone, you view a video on YouTube. The video is lively, humorous, or amusing in various forms. Getting the same outcome repeatedly over time develops an instinctive tendency. Now, it seems like you go to YouTube without really thinking about it and start viewing videos every time you see your phone, hence without having to make a conscious decision.

Sepah points out that the idea of "fasting" was always intended to be specific behavior- and time-specific. It was meant to be scheduled times when you shut yourself off from the undesirable habit, not an endless attempt to avoid all potentially enjoyable situations. Examples can be putting away your phone for a single weekend day or banning social media for four hours before bed. Frequent engagement in a behavior develops the brain's neural networks, making it more automatic. Giving your brain an opportunity to rest during a dopamine fast is supposed to reduce habitual neural connections and increase your level of conscious control over your conduct.

Additionally, according to Sepah, the fast involves implementing a cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) strategy known as "exposure and response prevention," in which you consciously expose oneself to stimuli without eliciting the conditioned reaction. This way, whenever something upsetting occurs during the scheduled fast, or even if the individual is bored,  the individual would have to tolerate the stress without using the mechanisms they used previously to cope.    

Who Should Try Or Avoid A Dopamine Detox?

There are 6 categories that Sepah found to be commonly problematic and mostly prone to addiction based on his clinical practice. And they include

  • Internet use and video games
  • Gambling and shopping
  • Porn and masturbation
  • Emotional eating
  • Thrill and novelty seeking
  • Recreational drugs

Sepah also mentioned that if any particular behaviour tends to bring about an emotional high that could be interfering with your life, it is considered to go for a dopamine fast. The goal behind dopamine fasting is not to deprive ourselves of pleasure, however, it is insufficient to just stop doing something and hope that your brain finds another way to occupy the time it used to spend playing games. It's also crucial to replace unhealthy behaviours with healthy ones. It is recommended to seek professional help if behaviour based addictions like gambling, pornography or substance abuse have started to interfere with function on a daily basis.

How To Get Started With Dopamine Detox 

Indeed, individuals can take planned steps to reduce their exposure to stimulating activities and improve their focus and productivity while starting a dopamine detox.

Step 1: Identifying Behavior Triggers

Start by determining which of your activities both significantly increase dopamine release and divert your attention from critical duties. These could be playing video games, binge-eating, or surfing through social media.

Step 2: Setting up Detox Objectives

Set reasonable goals for your dopamine detox journey that are specific to the time frame and scope of the detox. To ensure that your detox experience is effective, you must set reasonable goals.

Step 3: Making a Detox Schedule

Create an elaborate schedule that outlines the detox period, activities that are to be avoided, and times that should be set out for concentrated work or study.

Step 4: Partaking in Activities That Don't Stimulate

Actively partake in non-stimulating interests like reading, working out, being aware, or taking up creative hobbies while you're detoxing.

Step 5: Assessing and Transforming

Throughout the detox process, keep a close eye on your development and record any difficulties or advancements. To get the most out of your detox, modify your strategy as needed.

Advantages Of Dopamine Detox 

The dopamine fast was first intended to help us reconnect  with ourselves and others by offering an explanation and recommendations for breaking away from days of technology-fueled craziness and replacing them with simpler pursuits. 

Increased Productivity: People may be more productive and able to concentrate on crucial activities if they eliminate distractions and end the loop of instant satisfaction.

Enhanced Mental Clarity: Dopamine detox gives the brain a chance to reboot, which may result in less brain fog and more mental clarity.

Increased Awareness: During the detox phase, taking part in non-stimulating activities might help increase awareness of one's environment and inner experiences.

Building Healthy behaviours: Dopamine detoxification can help people create routines and behaviours that are healthier and more conducive to their general well-being.

Factors Of Adjustment In Dopamine Detox

Initial Discomfort: For people who are used to constant stimulation, the detox process may cause discomfort at first.

Social media Restrictions: Giving up some hobbies, like social media, could make you feel momentarily cut off from virtual society.

Potential Resistance: Some people could find it difficult to refrain from engaging in stimulating activities and develop opposition to the practice.

Impact on Leisure Time: People going through a dopamine detox may find that they have to find new sources of amusement and leisure, which at first seems inconvenient.


There is no scientific proof to back up the overlooked "dopamine detox" trend, making it little more than that. Because dopamine is constantly being produced by the brain, a true "dopamine detox" is not practical. On the other hand, abstaining from impulsive and compulsive behaviors might be helpful in the short term. 

Breaking oneself from mindless TV, fast food, and social media might benefit an individual's mental and lifestyle in general, as many of the activities and substances individuals resort to have the potential to become addictive. A "dopamine detox" is not a scientifically validated technique and is, by definition, deceptive; higher mindfulness may be attained by other activities, such as meditation.

Ready to break free from dopamine-driven distractions? Rocket Health offers personalized support and resources to help you detox from technology and reclaim your focus. Start your journey to mental clarity and productivity today!


A. (2021, February 4). Dopamine, Smartphones & You: A battle for your time - Science in the News. Science in the News.

Fei, Y. Y., Johnson, P. A., Omran, N. A., Mardon, A., & Johnson, J. C. (2021). Maladaptive or misunderstood? Dopamine fasting as a potential intervention for behavioral addiction. Lifestyle Medicine, 3(1). 

Grinspoon, P. (2020, February 26). Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad. Harvard Health.