Magazine | March 14, 2016, Issue


Opiate Withdrawal: Discomforting or Deadly?

Kevin D. Williamson is mistaken as to the severity of withdrawal from opiates (“From Oxy to Overdose,” February 29). The withdrawal can be brutal, sometimes worse than is depicted in movies and books, and I’ve seen people die. Ultimately, the withdrawal aspect of addiction is a relatively small part of the picture, regardless of its severity (unless it kills you, which sucks).

I disagree with your idea that treatment will necessarily cost a lot of money. I’ve worked with addicts in various settings and circumstances for many years, and the money and programs mean very little. Recovery doesn’t happen until a person is ready to go to any lengths to get it — but once ready, “it” is free. Addiction differs from other “diseases” in that its treatment calls for a level of willingness and honesty that isn’t germane in, say, the treatment of cancer.

John Meyers, M.D.

New Canaan, Conn.

Kevin D. Williamson responds: There is nothing in the clinical literature to support these dramatic claims about opiate withdrawal. Death from opiate withdrawal is practically unheard of, though there have been a few deaths from secondary health problems exacerbated by the stress of withdrawal, the main symptoms of which are insomnia and discomfort. I would point Dr. Meyers to Drugs of Abuse and Addiction: Neurobehavioral Toxicology, and repeat my recommendation of Theodore Dalrymple’s excellent Romancing Opiates, which cites, among other findings, a review of nearly a century’s worth of opiate-addiction data in which not a single case of death from withdrawal is documented.

The Best is Yet to Croon

Stipulated: Jousting over musical preferences is generally pointless — but your recent squib (“The Week,” December 3) lauding Frank Sinatra as “quite simply the best American pop singer ever” flatly overwhelms any reticence I maintain about debating the subject. Sinatra: a commercially successful entertainer? Clearly. A uniquely consequential figure in the history of modern music? No doubt. But — the “best American pop singer ever”? Preposterous. I won’t even bother listing those who could challenge ol’ blue eyes on that claim — a certain swivel-hipped phenom out of Mississippi favored by the late founder of this publication comes to mind — because specifically what other bard merits the honorific “the best” is fodder for another squabble.

Steve Pauwels

Londonderry, N.H.


In “The Champ and Mr. X” (Feb. 29), the paragraph beginning “Haley manipulated . . .” was a quotation from the book, by Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith, that James Rosen was reviewing. It was, however, mistakenly printed in the same format as the rest of the review rather than identified as a quotation. We regret the error.

Members of the National Review editorial and operational teams are included under the umbrella “NR Staff.”

In This Issue



Politics & Policy

A Justice in Full

National Review asked colleagues, friends, and family members of the late Justice Antonin Scalia to say some words about his mind and character. The editors thank Edward Whelan for ...

Books, Arts & Manners

Politics & Policy

Inside Man

Those familiar with the work of David Gelernter have come to expect both penetrating insight and a graceful, inviting presentation. This most recent book fully satisfies such expectations, even if ...
Politics & Policy

In the Cartoons

Here is the pitch. Deadpool is unlike any other superhero movie that you’ve ever seen. It’s savage, profane, darkly comic, and subversive. It’s a hard “R” for sex and violence ...


Politics & Policy


FOLDS OF LIGHT The gentle folds within the flower of the lily, the gentle look of the folds of the robes of the Pietà, flower of a few days, or the stone of centuries, as ...
Happy Warrior

You Never Had It So Good

We are living through a truly historical election season. Or, actually, maybe we’re living through the fall of the republic. It’s difficult to tell some days. An unscientific survey of the ...
Politics & Policy


Opiate Withdrawal: Discomforting or Deadly? Kevin D. Williamson is mistaken as to the severity of withdrawal from opiates (“From Oxy to Overdose,” February 29). The withdrawal can be brutal, sometimes worse ...
Politics & Policy

The Week

‐ If Trump shot somebody on Fifth Avenue, Cruz and Rubio would blame each other. ‐ After a limp finish in South Carolina, Jeb Bush ended his campaign. He was felled ...

Into the Gophers’ Den

Milo Yiannopoulos is quick, clever, amusing, naughty, British yet charismatic, and would probably be the first to agree that his brand of Flaming Gayness could be seen from the International ...

Most Popular

Politics & Policy

CNN: Everything but the News

For a while, we thought MSNBC had temporarily usurped CNN as the font of fake news — although both networks had tied for the most negative coverage (93 percent of all their news reports) of President Trump’s first 100 days in office. A cynic would argue that CNN had deliberately given Trump undue coverage ... Read More
Law & the Courts

The Real Reason for That Kavanaugh Smear

The New York Times on Saturday joined The New Yorker and many other media outlets in upending a dumpster full of garbage on its own reputation in an effort to smear Brett Kavanaugh. After more than a year of digging, the Democrats and their media allies still have no supported allegations of sexual misconduct by ... Read More