Dopamine Detox: sham or genuine?
Instead of rushing into the short-term reward-inducing cycle by breaking and resetting it. By allowing ourselves to feel lonely or bored we regain the ability to regain control over our lives and address compulsive behavior.
Dopamine is a naturally accruing neurotransmitter in the brain. It acts as a chemical messenger in the brain. Dopamine has a major effect on mental and physical functions like learning, motivation, mood, sleep, etc. It is essential for daily functioning. Works as a switchboard that decides how different parts of the brain handle incoming information.
Dopamine detox is a period of fasting from all the pleasurable activities or things that trigger dopamine release.
Those who attempt dopamine detox aim to reduce reward sensitivity. The process involves detachment from activities like shopping, social media usage, or sugar intake.
DR Cameron Sepah, the creator of dopamine detox says much of his practice and research on the technique revolves around the CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) principles.
DR Cameron Sepah believes the technique makes us less dominated by unhealthy stimuli. The aim is to help one enjoy simpler activities rather than looking for a dopamine rush.
Instead of rushing into the short-term reward-inducing cycle by breaking and resetting it. By allowing ourselves to feel lonely or bored we regain the ability to regain control over our lives and address compulsive behavior. The target behaviors for the technique are excessive eating, gambling, shopping, excessive internet usage, usage of pornographic content, thrill-seeking, and using recreational drugs. By not engaging in such activities people become less dependent on emotional hits provided by the release of dopamine. Dopamine faster subscribes to the idea that pleasurable activities create a need for pursuing a higher level of stimulation to achieve the same effect. It is an antidote to our overstimulated age.
Dopamine is very important but sometimes works as a distracting factor creating a hindrance in completing important tasks. Little distracting cues like notification sounds trigger dopamine levels. Continually retriggers create a state of desire. Dopamine detox can help you resist temptations. There are many different ways in which dopamine detox can be performed. A smaller version is picking up a day of the week to a few hours each day. There is another version where you reward yourself after completing some important activity.
It is important to note that true dopamine detox where all the production of dopamine in the brain is stopped is not possible as it is a naturally accruing chemical in the brain.
Dopamine levels do increase in response to pleasurable activates but don’t decrease when simulating activates are avoided. Kent Berridge, professor of psychology at the University of Michigan says that the dopamine system cannot be reset and dopamine fasting doesn’t work with our present understanding of dopamine. It oversimplifies the brain to just be a pleasure-seeking organ. The period of fasting doesn’t mean a reduced or non-presence of dopamine but rather the absence of problematic behavior. There aren't many scientific pieces of research yet to prove if this technique is effective. A more accurate description would be to say it’s an attempt at unplugging the world.
Dopamine should not be seen as a drug like heroin or cocaine, where a detox for avoiding pleasurable activities is needed to break tolerance. Neither would such tolerance breaks intensify the experience after the detox is over or replenish stored dopamine.
Dopamine detox should be viewed like any other mindfulness practice. People take the activity way too far by not exercising, listening to music, socializing, etc. Even the creator DR Cameron Sepah that people have pushed the practice to extremes making it a mocking stock.
The original idea behind dopamine detox was to provide a rationale suggestion for disconnecting from technology and look for substitutes in simpler activates to reconnect with ourselves.