Dr. Eliot Gelwan blogs about British psychiatrist Dalrymple's musings ("Poppycock") that the dramatic and gut-wrenching symptoms which accompany narcotic withdrawal are induced by the presence of a sympathetic (and script-wielding) individual, and that the nature of addiction is essentially based on one's character defects (now there's an original thought).
I have witnessed thousands of addicts withdraw; and, notwithstanding the histrionic displays of suffering, provoked by the presence of someone in a position to prescribe substitute opiates, and which cease when that person is no longer present, I have never had any reason to fear for their safety from the effects of withdrawal.
Gelwan wisely concludes:
I largely agree that withdrawal from opiates is highly overrated, and that addicts have a hard time being honest with those of us to whom they come for assistance. However, ... the fact that Dalrymple works in the penal system ... is probably what stops him from being more compassionate toward these unfortunate individuals who have so little in the way of coping mechanisms... .
Both psychiatrists correctly point out that narcotic withdrawal generally won't kill you, but alcohol or sedative withdrawal may. However, to contradict Dr. Dalrymple (I love how that sounds), I am certain there are a number of lab animals which would clearly demonstrate withdrawal symptoms, whether or not in the presence of a nice scientist with a syringe full of relief.
Clink: He's got your (support) goat!