Blog Mental Health  Why Do You Need Dopamine Detox?

 Why Do You Need Dopamine Detox?

It’s 2 am and you’re lying in bed, half asleep, scrolling on your phone. You convince yourself it’s the last TikTok video you’ll watch today, but then you watch another video, followed by another one. This never-ending scrolling loop plays with your mind until you’re completely exhausted and eventually shut your eyes. 

Does this situation sound familiar? It’s an ideal description of the dopamine chemical that motivates you to seek out pleasurable behavior. It works with the reward center in your brain, so when you do something pleasurable (such as getting a desirable notification or binge-watching hilarious Reels), it stimulates you to repeat the experience. 

Of course, you can also release dopamine through healthy activities such as sleeping well, eating healthily, exercising, or meditating. But let’s face it, there is at least one bad habit you have a hard time getting rid of, whether it’s spending too much time on your devices, or binge eating before bed. But how do you stop this kind of behavior? This is where dopamine fasting comes in. 

In this article, we’ll take a look at the harmful activities that stimulate dopamine release and why you need dopamine detox

What is the fastest way to reset dopamine?

Looking for the fastest way to reset dopamine is not a good option as you might expect quick results but turn to your “organic” habits again. 

Therefore, I’ve prepared the main 4 tips to help you detox from dopamine: 

  1. Create barriers
  2. Look for beneficial alternatives
  3. Establish the main causes
  4. Seek guidance

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Create barriers

Generally, the difficulty of doing something is what it takes to start dopamine fasting. Examples include: 

  • Put it out of reach or out of your line of sight
  • Make it inconvenient
  • Limit the time you spend with others who share the habit
  • Install blocking apps and software
  • Give someone else control of necessary resources, such as your credit cards
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Look for beneficial alternatives

Transforming bad habits into good ones involves substitution. It can be difficult at first, but once you start, you’ll feel better and become more productive and creative. Here are some examples of healthy activities: 

  • Doing sports
  • Reading
  • Listening to music
  • Painting
  • Meditating
  • Volunteering
  • Dancing
  • Playing with a pet
  • Traveling 

Cold showers are also effective for relieving depression (1). In addition, the cold water may increase dopamine as the body and brain respond to exposure to cold temperatures. 

dopamine detox  

Establish the main causes

Understanding the main causes of your negative habits is a crucial part of dopamine fasting. In this case, journaling could be helpful as this enables you to recognize and put names to the feelings you experience throughout the day. If you start doing something unhealthy again, you should stop for a second and consider why you’re doing it. 

Seek guidance

Ideally, you should perform dopamine detox under the guidance and supervision of mental health specialists who can help you understand the chemical processes that are involved and develop comprehensive strategies for changing your behavior. 

In addition, some people may withdraw from this process or be too lazy to start it, but under the supervision of a professional, these excuses may disappear. 

What is the 7-day dopamine detox?

The 7-day dopamine detox involves abstaining from unhealthy behavior that triggers dopamine release for 7 days. 

There are six compulsive behaviors that may respond to a dopamine fast: emotional eating, excessive internet usage and gaming, gambling and shopping, porn and masturbation, thrill and novelty seeking, and recreational drugs (3).

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During a 7-day dopamine detox, you swap your negative habits with positive ones. You don’t need to adopt an unhealthy version of this fasting, such as not exercising, eating delicious food, listening to music, or socializing. 

Dr. Cameron Sepah, a California psychiatrist who came up with the detox fasting idea, indicates that the problem of many people is taking the name dopamine detox literally (5).

Therefore, immersing yourself in self-disciplined behavior is not necessary. 

What does a dopamine detox feel like?

It is entirely dependent on the person and their causes for unhealthy behaviors. Generally, a person who undergoes a dopamine detox may feel anxious or even depressed because bad habits are always enticing. Therefore, if you normally watch a movie before bed, it may be difficult to turn it off and surround yourself with silence, so it’s better to cope with dopamine detox under the guidance of a professional. 

The good news is that after you successfully detox, you’ll feel better, calmer, and healthier. It isn’t easy, and it may take some time, but it’s totally worth it. 

Read more: Armpit Detox: Why People Do it, Whether it Works & How to Do It

How do you detox dopamine naturally?

Your brain produces dopamine all the time, which makes a true dopamine detox impossible. However, abstaining from activities that stem from compulsion and impulse may be beneficial for a short period of time (7).

To detox naturally, you should focus on healthy activities, such as: 

  • Going for a walk
  • Working out
  • Creating art
  • Practicing mindfulness (more Mindfulness Tips can be found in our brand-new article)
  • Meeting with friends
  • Singing
  • Dancing

dopamine detox  

How long does it take to dopamine detox? 

This is a common question, but the answer may not completely satisfy you as this process varies for different individuals, and there are no time limits. However, a typical dopamine detox lasts for up to 90 days. 

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Many people see positive results within the first couple of days or even hours, but you should take it at your own pace, and see how you feel about it. 

Is a dopamine detox worthwhile? 

There is no scientific evidence that proves the benefits of dopamine detox, but substituting bad habits with healthy alternatives, or avoiding certain behaviors may have positive results. 

In addition, dopamine detox for studying may be more effective as it makes you more concentrated, balanced, and less affected by the usual dopamine triggers (7). By stopping phone scrolling, you will also achieve a state of mindfulness.

Just imagine how much free time you could have if you were to abstain from certain activities. This free time could be spent: 

  • Connecting with friends and family 
  • Improving your health
  • Traveling
  • Better understanding your needs and feelings 
  • Finding happiness in ordinary things

A dopamine detox down-regulates the dopamine receptors in your brain’s pleasure centers so they cool down and crave fewer hits. This is a way of calming your mind. So, put down your phone, get outside, take a walk, read something, hang out with your friends, and treat yourself to a fresh salad instead of a burger and fries. 

Does dopamine detox hurt?

Changing from unhealthy habits is a process that takes a lot of time, effort, and patience. You won’t just wake up one day and meditate instead of checking your phone. Although it’s a rewarding activity, there are potential risks with dopamine fasting. 

Both the brain and body will crave the rewards they are not receiving during the detox, which can lead to the following dopamine side effects:

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What should I avoid on a dopamine fast? 

Everyone who starts the process of bad habit transformation wonders about all the dos and don’ts. The best way of understanding what you should abstain from is to analyze your daily activities. This will help you highlight bad habits and their timings. 

However, there are harmful behaviors that trigger dopamine release, and your job is to reduce their effects as much as possible. 

Those behaviors include:

  1. Overeating: Okay, you’re surely someone who prefers to unwind by snacking in front of the TV. Therefore, you don’t even taste and experience the food as much as you’re distracted. Research says that we have a tendency to eat more when we’re distracted (4). So rather than eating alone, go out and enjoy dinner with a friend, or pull yourself together and at least once per day, eat a meal with no distractions. 
  2. Constant social media use: The reality is that social media features, such as likes, comments, and follows, can serve to promote negative mental health. You should reduce the time you spend on social media apps, and you may feel much better (6). 
  3. Sex addiction: This can include constant masturbation and seeking out new partners for casual interactions every single day. People with this behavior are advised to contact a therapist for guidance. 
  4. Drinking too much alcohol and doing drugs: People should seek professional support for drug or alcohol addiction recovery. 
  5. Gambling: This activity can stimulate the brain’s reward system in a similar way to drugs or alcohol, which can lead to addiction. If you feel that you have a problem with compulsive gambling, you may chase bets, leading to bigger losses, your savings diminishing, and ultimately, large debt. You may even try to hide your behavior and turn to fraud or theft as a means of supporting your addiction (2).
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A quick reminder: we’ve just published a new article about After Holiday Detox. We all know how holidays can spoil our diet or sleeping schedules, so why not learn about detox fasting after the festive holidays?

Is Dopamine detox good for ADHD?

The impact of dopamine detox on ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) is dependent on the person. Some people with ADHD may find that decreasing impulsive behaviors is helpful for managing their symptoms.

However, other individuals with ADHD may find dopamine detox disruptive to their lives. 

For children and adults, it’s beneficial to maintain an easy-to-follow schedule, find the triggers that take time away from work or school, and explore healthier alternatives.

Read more: Fasting Detox: Foods and Drinks to Detoxify Your Body Safely

dopamine detox  


  • What are the signs of low dopamine?

Symptoms of dopamine deficiency include a lack of motivation, a constant state of tiredness, inability to concentrate, mood swings, anxiety, lack of pleasure from enjoyable experiences,  low sex drive, trouble sleeping, and depression. 

  • What destroys dopamine receptors?

You can disrupt dopamine receptors by using powerful stimulants for a long time as they block the removal of dopamine from your system. 

  • What can I eat during dopamine detox?

Foods you can eat during dopamine detox include dairy foods such as cheese and milk, unprocessed meats, omega 3-rich fish, eggs, fruits and vegetables, nuts, and dark chocolate.

  • What should you not do during dopamine detox?

During dopamine detox, you should not perform activities that could trigger dopamine release in your brain, such as browsing social media, watching TV shows or movies, eating sugary or processed foods, consuming caffeine, playing video games, or working excessively. 

The Bottom Line

Why do you need dopamine detox? Dopamine fasting is a cognitive behavioral therapy that helps people with unhealthy ways of thinking and behaving. 

There are four excellent tips for dopamine detoxing: creating barriers, finding healthy alternatives, establishing causes, and seeking guidance. 

Dopamine detox has both benefits (becoming more balanced, mindful, and concentrated) and downsides (anxiety, irritability, or lack of motivation).

Things you should avoid during a dopamine fast including overeating, constant social media scrolling, gambling, drug or alcohol abuse, excessive sexual activity, and gambling. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. Adapted cold shower as a potential treatment for depression (2008,
  2. Compulsive gambling (
  3. Dopamine fasting: Misunderstanding science spawns a maladaptive fad (2020,
  4. Eating attentively: a systematic review and meta-analysis of the effect of food intake memory and awareness on eating (2013,
  5. How to Feel Nothing Now, in Order to Feel More Later (2019,
  6. The Relationship between Social Media and the Increase in Mental Health Problems (2023,
  7. What to know about a dopamine detox (2023,