Julia M Aharonov, DO  
Female, 54
Pontiac, MI

Specialties: Addiction, Drug abuse and dependence

Interests: My family
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Dependence vs. Addiction

Jun 13, 2014 - 5 comments

This is  part of a blog that I wrote a while ago for my www.mdsdruddetox.com website. Dependence and addiction, despite what people think, are not the same condition. Since the terms are often used interchangeably, it is important to understand the differences between the two.

The crucial difference between them is that dependence is a physical state, whereas addiction is a psychological state.

Dependence happens to the body. When someone takes a certain amount of a substance for a certain amount of time, the body becomes adapted to having that substance present. When the substance is taken away, the body ends up feeling a withdrawal, since it is so used to the substance being there.  
People commonly think of opiates, such as morphine, or semi-synthetic opioids derived from opiates, such as oxycodone, when they think of drug dependence or addiction. But as anyone who drinks three cups of coffee a day is bound to realize, the body can become dependent on far less damaging substances, as well. Many people using drugs to manage their pain are dependent on those drugs without being addicted to them. They take the drugs to function normally and live productive lives. These users may be dependent, but they are not addicted.

Addiction is a different beast. Whereas dependence is strictly physical, addiction reaches into psychological and social depths as well. Addiction is a condition that drives someone to satisfy their need for a substance (or behavior) at whatever the cost. Addiction is a compulsion. Addiction demands more and more, and doesn't care about the consequences. Someone who is addicted will continue using despite actual physical, mental, and social anguish to themselves or the loved ones around them. Someone who is addicted experiences constant cravings for the drug that can only be quelled by higher and higher dosages. Addiction leads to secrecy and  lies; interference with everyday life; and causes problems with loved ones. When it comes to addiction vs. dependence, addiction is truly a disease, whereas dependence is a state. Addicts are dependent on the drugs they take, but the inability to control themselves is what turns dependence into addiction.

When an individual becomes addicted to a drug, whatever the reason they began taking that drug in the first place, a point is reached where nothing matters to the addict but obtaining the drug and getting high. Addiction leads to isolation, from other people as well as emotionally and psychologically within the addict. Addiction quickly takes over an individual’s life. When considering addiction vs. dependence, simply being dependent on a drug will not cause an individual to lose their grip the way addiction does. Addiction is a forlorn and lonely state, but unfortunately one that millions of people have found themselves in.

Through rapid drug detox, however, addicted individuals can take control over their bodies again. When determining an addiction vs. dependence, the key area of difference is the state of the user’s life. Someone who is in dependent on a drug but not addicted otherwise leads a normal and fulfilling life. Those who are addicted to drugs, however, experience a continuous downward spiral and an infinite loop of seeking highs and the crushing lows that come when highs can’t be found. Yet addiction does not have to be the end of the world. Especially when rapid drug detox is used in conjunction with Naltrexone therapy, which stops the effects of opiates on the body, and the right rehabilitation psychologist, to tackle the psychological underpinnings, addiction can be overcome.

The Death by Heroin

Feb 03, 2014 - 37 comments

heroine addiction



Why do young, vibrant people keep dying from heroin overdose?  What is the great pull this drug has on our society? Well, I have been thinking about just that question as we all heard about the death of yet another famous and talented actor. Phillip Seymour Hoffman was found in his Manhattan apartment with a syringe still stuck in his arm and fifty heroin bags in his possession.
So I thought back to patient we had very recently, who is also a heroin addict. He called us of his own volition for help. He said he was done and wanted to be free of this drug. He seemed committed to his decision; he convinced his parents that this is the right way to go and got them on board. He flew with his father from East Coast to have our procedure done, which would put him on the road to long term recovery. He signed consents, went through pre-procedural testing, but the morning of the procedure the pull of the heroin was too great. All he wanted to do is back out and get back to using. He told us that he knows all the risks, but he is too smart and nothing will happen to him. His mind created excuses for his use and he told us that he does not use that much and there is nothing wrong with getting occasionally high. He told us that his dealer is different from other and will not sell him bad stuff. He told us that he does not care if he dies; he just wants to be able to get high again.
We drove him back to his father in the hotel. His father was devastated and felt that we should have forced his son to undergo our procedure because, since he was now in withdrawals, he was not himself. The father begged for one of our staff to go to the hotel and talk to his son. One of our senior staff members went to the hotel and talked to both the son and the father. At one point the son got violent and lost control, and that was the moment when the young man realized that he needed to come back to our center and get this done. He realized that heroin took over his life. He was not himself anymore, all the excuses, all the rationalizations came from his addiction, not from who he truly is or should be.
Heroin does that fast, it changes who you are. It gives you false sense of happiness where there is none, false sense of well-being where you have none. Happiness and well-being is something that a human being creates for themselves, from inside. Both are created through the deeds you do and relationships you actively build with people around you. Both of those things – happiness and sense of well-being – require work. However when they are achieved through deeds and work, they are extremely gratifying and lasting.
Heroin can give you both in one single shot. But it will leave you changed forever – empty, emotionally and spiritually; and sometimes dead. Yes it is far easier and faster to get a high from heroin than a high from life, but how many more people have to die to get through to those young ones picking up the syringes for the first time?
So why did Phil Hoffman die? He had the money to spend on the best rehabs, he had people to live for, and he had a fantastic carrier on stage and in film. All that was nothing compared to the high of the false happiness and well-being that that syringe of heroin gave him. Heroin changed him from inside out, it changed his priorities, it made his excuses, and it created reasons.  It was not Phillip Seymour Hoffman dead in that apartment;    it was his addiction to heroin, to the euphoria it temporary gave him. But we cannot forget  that at one point in the past it was Phil himself who opened that door.

Rapid Drug Detox Risks vs Benefts

Oct 21, 2013 - 8 comments

rapid drug detox


drug detox





There is nothing better, nothing more satisfying for a physician than to see a patient succeed. And when it happens over and over again, it is just so fulfilling. When a young lady who looked awful a few months ago comes into our clinic looking like a model, full of energy, vitality and health, there cannot be a better feeling for a doctor.  
So when I see our type of detox method questioned in print because of some other physician doing a poor job or doing something he should not have been doing at all, it bothers me. Dr. Sunjay Gupta, the one who apparently knows it all, put it on his medical news channel, that because of several poor outcomes in a clinic in NY, rapid detox under anesthesia is just too dangerous. Why doesn't the press come and see what we do on weekly basis in our clinic, safely and effectively for hundreds and hundreds of patients, but brings to everyone’s attention someone’s failure?  
The fact is that the failures do exist.  Medicine, even good medicine is fraught with failure. Patients die, even in the best of circumstances and the best of hospitals. Even the best physicians sometimes fail to stop the inevitable. Medicine is a very risky business.  And the medicine of rapid detox that only few doctors know how to do seems to be riskier yet.  But with all the hype, we are still talking a few deaths, however tragic and possibly avoidable.
According to CDC, 17,000 people die each year from opiate overdoses; more than quadruple the number of a decade ago. Almost one-third of prescription painkiller overdose deaths involve methadone. Six times as many people died of methadone overdoses in 2009 than a decade before and methadone is supposed to be the “addiction treatment of choice” .  Suboxone has also been involved in numerous overdose deaths.  
In medicine, everything should be a balance of risk and benefit. Before undertaking any medical procedure risk and benefit ratio must be carefully examined and assessed.  Questions must be asked such as:
Is the procedure necessary?
Is the patient healthy enough to undergo the procedure?
Is patient medically optimized and prepared for the procedure?
Is the doctor knowledgeable and experienced in this particular procedure?
How many has s/he done?
What is the doctor’s success rate?
If after thorough examination everyone is satisfied that the benefits outweigh the risk (even though the risk is never zero), the procedure can go on in as safe a manner as possible.  That is what we strive for in our clinic, MDS Rapid Detox.  The safety and successful outcome of each of our patients are our top priorities.
So when the press judges rapid drug detox “dangerous” based on someone else’s lack of knowledge, experience and ethics it really does a disservice to all those who can be helped and potentially saved by what we believe is a life changing and transformative treatment method. All we ask is that you talk to our patients and see our clinic for yourselves.

Why so many senseless tragedies?

Jul 15, 2013 - 3 comments

Just a few days ago yet another famous and successful young man was found dead from a drug overdose. Cory Monteith has been through many high priced drug rehabs, one just recently, but to no avail. And now the world is mourning another talented actor.
My partner and I run a rapid drug detox facility - MDS Drug Detox. We have detoxed hundreds of addicts successfully and keep most of them drug free. It bothers me immensely that we are not able to help more people stay off opiates and keep them healthy and alive. Every time I hear of a death of another young human being it hurts me that I was not able to help.
We are probably one of a dozen of places around the country that do rapid detox from opiates. WE offer an unparalleled level of care and have performed and sustained hundreds of detox procedures.
Yes, a rapid detox clinic can be built on a grand scale, in a spa like facility, or use a hospital wing - both of which will add on thousands to the cost and may jeopardize the privacy by exposing the patients’ chart to the JCAHO inspectors. All of which does nothing to improve patient safety, outcome or long term success.
We carefully screen patients, both psychological and physical; using protocols that are individualized to each patient, which can only be done after years of experience. We also provide unrestricted follow-up using long-term Naltrexone therapy.
Naltrexone therapy has been shown in study after study to be effective in minimizing cravings for opiates and preventing relapse. In fact, the longer one stays on Naltrexone therapy, the less likely they are to relapse.
By continuing Naltrexone therapy and encouraging patients to stay in touch with us, we significantly improve the long term success of their rapid detox treatment.
So why don't more people take advantage of this highly successful method of addiction treatment? Why do they insist on spending untold thousands of dollars and many months of their lives in artificial environment of spa-like rehabs that do nothing to teach them how to live in the real world? All that happens in those highly artificial environments is they meet other addicts and find new friends and new connections to new dealers and new ways of using once they are out. But it is in vogue and in high fashion to get clean in a fancy high priced rehab where the stars go. It is as easy to get clean and sober in such a spa as it is to lose twenty pounds in a fat farm eating bean sprouts and exercising eight hours a day.
What matters most is if you are able to sustain what you have achieved. Time after time it has been shown that such success in long term rehab facilities is ephemeral and extremely short lived. In fact, studies a have shown that general success rate of a standard rehab at a year is a measly 3 to 7%.
So what is stopping the wide spread use of rapid detox followed by long-term naltrexone therapy? I recently wrote a blog about patients who come to our facility to be detoxed from Suboxone and methadone which they were led to believe were treatments for their addiction. Instead they got addicted to these even more insidious legal opiates. I got plenty of positive responses from the addicts themselves, but when this blog was placed on the Addiction professionals’ forum the amount of negative blowback I received was incredible.
To my utter surprise, I realized that it was not the addicts that were closed minded to this physiologically logical and medically empirically proven procedure, but the addiction establishment itself. Layers and layers of addiction counselors, many of whom have been or still are addicts, remain deeply invested in traditional long term rehab as well as substitution therapy - what they call OMT - opiate maintenance therapy.   Arguing with them is beyond useless, their life, livelihood and their theory of all existence depends on it. It matters not that patients came to us begging to detox them after years of being on OMT. These professionals actually compare these medications to insulin therapy. For me as a physician comparing a life threatening disease such as insulin dependent diabetes to opiate addiction that I know can be treated and overcome is utterly preposterous.
I cannot presume that I can break through the wall of the professional resistance that I have encountered from the Addiction counselors. They must be open-minded to understand the amazing possibility that the procedure that we do and the initiation of the long term receptor blockade offers to opiate addicts.
I can only pray and hope that less people die from drug overdose because of the intransigence of our professional community.