The name dopamine detox implies that these behaviors are the only source of dopamine, and thus cutting them out will somehow rid you of the feel-good neurotransmitter—but that’s not the full picture.
It’s important to note that Sepah has clarified in past interviews that this term was not intended to be taken literally but unfortunately has been by many.
Experts clarify that the goal of this practice isn’t to rid your life of dopamine but to change your relationship with it. “Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that plays a crucial role in the way the brain functions. It is impossible to ‘detox’ or rid the brain entirely of dopamine,” says neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, Ph.D. She notes that it’s more about practicing self-regulation than detoxification.
To be fair, high levels of dopamine have been linked to impulse-control issues and a hypercompetitive attitude. However, lower dopamine levels aren’t the answer either; these have been associated with a lack of motivation.
Regardless, does cutting out your vices for a short period of time really do anything? According to a 2021 study, the dopamine detox method can be helpful in reducing impulsive behaviors, thus contributing to an overall healthier state of mind.
I doubt many people would be surprised to learn that spending time away from social media or limiting the use of recreational drugs would benefit your mental health, but nevertheless, the specific perks are quite motivating. Hafeez says that reducing the amount of time you spend on activities that overstimulate the brain leads to many benefits, including: