“United Against The Treachery Going On In The World,”
It has now been found that Stephen Paddock, the gunman who fatally shot down 58 people and injured hundreds using high-powered rifles on the night of October 1, 2017 in Las Vegas, was taking diazepam an anti-anxiety prescription drug. This medication is a generic form of Valium and can lead to aggressive behaviour.
As per reports, Henderson physician Dr. Steven Winkler had prescribed 50 10-milligram diazepam tablets to Paddock on June 21. Paddock bought the drug without insurance on the day of prescription at a Walgreens store located in Reno. People are advised to typically begin with 4 mg and not take more than 40 mg in within a period of 24 hours.
Diazepam is a hypnotic- sedative drug belonging to the class of medicines called benzodiazepines, which were developed in 1960s by a New Jersey chemist. Studies have indicated that benzodiazepines can trigger aggression.
All drugs belonging to benzodiazepines class act as tranquilizers and help alleviate anxiety by inhibiting the GABA receptors present in brain’s pre-frontal lobe. These receptors tend to be increasingly active in anxiety sufferers and targeting them causes a soothing effect. They can also be used as muscle pain relaxant. They are effective for just a short duration.
Benzodiazepines are very addictive and as per official guidelines, these drugs should only be prescribed for 4 weeks. However, this guideline is rarely followed. Many physicians continued prescribing for a longer time period and thus increase the dependence of the sufferer on the drug.
Another fact to be noted is the fact that stopping the intake of diazepam is very difficult and it causes extreme withdrawal symptoms.
Most doctors are of the opinion that the pill cannot be the sole cause of the murder spree of Paddock. Experts however also confirm that abuse or chronic use of diazepam can result in psychotic experiences and increased aggressiveness. They state that sedating people with pre-existing issues of aggression with diazepam can trigger aggression in them.
It is similar to cases where intake of alcohol by some people can cause them to become aggressive instead of inducing sleep in them. The effects of diazepam can also get magnified after intake of alcohol.
Revelation about Paddock using diazepam has triggered a huge debate about the medicine and its powerful side effects
For most sufferers who take the drug under close medical supervision, the usual side effects are similar to alcohol side effects, i.e., dizziness, drowsiness, memory problems, and sexual dysfunction. In rare instances, the drug can however trigger aggressiveness, suicidal tendencies and thoughts, impulsive thoughts, panic attacks, and reduced empathy.
Most experts are of the opinion that benzodiazepines are more likely to trigger impulsive aggression and not premeditated aggressive behaviour.
It has been found that Paddock had meticulously planned the murderous attack. He had carefully sneaked a whole lot of weapons into the Mandalay Bay hotel where he was staying. He had also placed cameras outside and inside his room before he launched the assault. He had even written notes and made calculations on how he would target the crowd.
Hence, experts believe that it is vital to know the reason why Paddock’s doctor had prescribed the medication
The underlying condition for which the drug was prescribed is more likely to be the cause of his planned attack and not the drug. Once the reason for why Paddock carried out the attack is known, then it would offer a more comprehensive understanding of what he did.
Questions about the connections between mass shootings in the US and use of psychiatric drugs have been in discussion for quite some time now. And despite several studies, experts have yet to come up with some conclusive evidence. The Las Vegas shooting has definitely brought the use of powerful anti-anxiety medicines into the spotlight, and many have also begun asking questions about proper regulation of prescriptions. Still, it’s not right to say this tragedy was solely based around the prescribed medication.