How Do Detox Drinks for Drug Tests Work?

Last Updated: April 23, 2024

Dr. Ash Bhatt Reviewed by Dr. Ash Bhatt
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Illicit drug use and abuse of prescription medication continue to be a concern around the world.

In 2022, approximately 70.3 million Americans aged 12 or older (24.9%) reported using illicit drugs in the past year, with marijuana as the most commonly used (22.0%). Since substance use impairs the ability to function in any given setting, this drug use statistic raises questions about efficiency and coordination in workplaces and educational campuses.

Drug tests are vital in maintaining drug-free environments. When people fear failing one of these tests, they often turn to detox drinks for drug tests, believing they will help. Yet their effectiveness remains uncertain. Read on to learn whether detox drinks work, their side effects, and medical considerations.

What Are Detox Drinks?

Detox, short for detoxification, is the process of removing toxins and harmful substances from the body.

It’s often used to improve health, boost energy levels and support weight loss. While the scientific evidence supporting the efficacy of detox diets or cleanses is limited, many still incorporate them as part of wellness routines.

There are several options for detox, including detox drinks with ingredients that facilitate this process more effectively than natural processes. These drinks often contain a combination of herbs, fruits and vegetables that include:

  • Water: Base for the drink and helps flush out toxins through urine.
  • Lemon juice or lime: Vitamin C, these citrus fruits are thought to aid liver function.
  • Ginger: Known for its anti-inflammatory properties, it may support digestion and help eliminate toxins.
  • Green tea: Contains antioxidants that may support liver health and boost metabolism.
  • Cucumber: High in water content and it may help flush out toxins.
  • Mint: Adds flavor to the drink and may aid digestion.
  • Apple cider vinegar: It’s believed it helps balance pH levels in the body.
  • Cayenne pepper: Contains capsaicin, which may boost metabolism and detox through sweating.

In medical terms, detoxification refers to the body’s inherent mechanism of eliminating toxins via organs such as the liver and kidneys. Accelerating this process through specific drinks seems unrealistic. Moreover, drugs can have complex interactions in the body. Some detox drinks may contain high amounts of sugar or other additives, which could be harmful to health.

What Are Drug Tests?

Drug tests are diagnostic measures designed to detect the presence of illicit substances or prescription medications in a person’s system.

Drug testing samples are typically collected from various bodily fluids or tissues. Urine tests are the most common, considering they are easier and substance traces last longer in this fluid than in blood. For example, THC and other fat-soluble compounds have extended elimination half-lives and can be detected in urine for weeks after heavy use.

Many employers conduct drug testing as part of pre-employment screening or for current employees. Yet, they can be used in other areas like:

  • Education: Particularly for students involved in extracurricular activities or sports teams.
  • Legal: Vital for legal settings, criminal cases, probation, court-ordered tests for custody disputes, parole.
  • Sports: Known as “doping” to detect performance-enhancing drugs.
  • Healthcare: For diagnostics, monitoring substance abuse treatment and managing chronic pain with opioids.

Which Substances Do Drug Tests Detect?

Drug tests detect a wide range of substances, including commonly abused or misused legal and illegal drugs. These tests cover:

Illegal Drugs

  • Opiates: Including heroin.
  • Stimulants: Such as cocaine and methamphetamine (commonly known as “meth”).
  • Hallucinogens: Like THC (found in marijuana) and phencyclidine (PCP).

Misused Prescription Drugs

    • Painkillers / Opiates: Examples include codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone (Vicodin), Meperidine (Demerol), morphine, oxycodone (Oxycontin), and tramadol.
    • Sedatives: Including alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium) and phenobarbital (Solfoton).
    • Stimulants: Such as amphetamines (like Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin and Vyvanse).
  • Anabolic steroids.

Do Detox Drinks for Drug Tests Work?

The effectiveness of detox drinks for passing drug tests is widely debated.

Detox drinks don’t function like drug detox or medications, as they lack reliability and scientific claims. Some contain chemicals to mask substances, like nitrites or halogens, that can destroy the 6-MAM metabolite of heroin in the urine and prevent it from showing up on a test. Yet, this technique still does not help people pass a drug test.

Detox drinks typically contain a combination of herbs, vitamins and minerals believed to help detoxify. However, the ability of detox drinks for drug tests to eliminate drug metabolites from the body is not well-established.

For How Long Do Drugs Stay in the System?

Knowing for how long drugs remain detectable in the body is important for those under prescription medications, as well for drug testing accuracy, medical treatment optimization and mitigating potential interactions. The approximate detection times for various substances in bodily fluids are indicated in the chart (extracted from this study) below*:

Substance Urine Hair Oral Fluid Sweat
Alcohol 10-12 hours
EtG – Up to 48 hours
N/A Up to 24 hours N/A
Amphetamines 2 to 4 days Up to 90 days 1-48 hours 7-14 days
Methamphetamine 2 to 5 days Up to 90 days 1-48 hours 7-14 days
Barbiturates Up to 7 days Up to 90 days N/A N/A
Benzodiazepines Up to 7 days Up to 90 days N/A N/A
Cannabis (Marijuana) 1-30 days Up to 90 days Up to 24 hours 7-14 days
Cocaine 1 to 3 days Up to 90 days 1-36 hours 7-14 days
Codeine (Opiate) 2 to 4 days Up to 90 days 1-36 hours 7-14 days
Morphine (Opiate) 2 to 5 days Up to 90 days 1-36 hours 7-14 days
Heroin (Opiate) 2 to 3 days Up to 90 days 1-36 hours 7-14 days
PCP (Phencyclidine) 5 to 6 days Up to 90 days N/A 7-14 days

*LSD, mushrooms, synthetic cannabinoids, and ecstasy (MDMA) will not be detected by typical drug testing.

Side Effects of Detox Drinks for Drug Tests

There is a common belief that drinks with “natural” or “organic” ingredients are 100% safe to use. However, this is a misconception for several reasons. Detox drinks pose potential risks to health and well-being.

The side effects of detox drinks include:

  • Some ingredients like fiber or laxatives can cause diarrhea, bloating or abdominal discomfort.
  • Detox drinks’ diuretic properties can cause dehydration and electrolyte imbalances.
  • High sugar content in some detox drinks can affect blood sugar levels.
  • Ingredients like herbs or fruit extracts may trigger allergic reactions.
  • Some detox drink ingredients may interact with medications.
  • Prolonged detox drink use may result in deficiencies of essential nutrients.

Substance Abuse Warning

If someone needs to resort to detox drinks to pass a drug test, it may indicate an underlying substance abuse issue and seeking help is paramount for healing and recovery. Contact a healthcare professional for guidance and assistance on the journey to recovery.

Detox drinks’ efficiency for drug tests is not scientifically proven and the only option to be 100% sure you will pass a drug test is maintaining sobriety. If you are under prescription drugs that may cause you to test positive, you need to communicate it to your employer, school advisor or the one asking you for a test.

Remember, smoothies or drinks should complement a healthy lifestyle, not serve as a substitute for addressing substance abuse issues.

People Also Ask

What should you avoid before a urine test?

Before a urine test, avoid consuming alcohol, caffeine and excessive fluids to prevent dilution. Additionally, avoid medications, supplements (Vitamin B) and foods (beets, poppy seeds, asparagus) that may interfere with the test results.

What substances can cause a false positive drug test?

Substances like poppy seeds, ibuprofen, cold medications, antidepressants, and some prescription drugs can potentially cause false positive results in drug tests.

What can interfere with drug test results?

Factors such as certain medications, foods like poppy seeds, herbal supplements, and medical conditions can interfere with drug test results, potentially causing false positives or negatives.

Detox vegerables, fruits and smoothies on the table.

Page Sources

  1. HHS, SAMHSA release 2022 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data. (2023b, November 13). SAMHSA.
  2. “Detoxes” and “Cleanses”: What you need to know. (n.d.). NCCIH.
  3. Partnership for Environmental Education & Rural Health. (2020, February 18). ORGAN SYSTEMS: DETOXIfication - PEER Program (Youth STEM Promotion). PEER Program (Youth STEM Promotion).
  4. Hadland, S. E., & Levy, S. (2016). OBJECTIVE TESTING – URINE AND OTHER DRUG TESTS. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America, 25(3), 549.
  5. Keary, C. J., Wang, Y., Moran, J. R., Zayas, L. V., & Stern, T. A. (2012). Toxicologic Testing for Opiates: Understanding False-Positive and False-Negative Test Results. The Primary Care Companion for CNS Disorders, 14(4).
Retrieved on March 20, 2024.

Published on: December 15th, 2016

Updated on: April 23rd, 2024

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