(ANTIMEDIA) Las Vegas, NV — Details are still scant regarding the motives behind Stephen Paddock’s barbaric killing spree in Las Vegas on Sunday night, but a new factor regarding what may have fueled the madman’s actions has emerged.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Paddock was prescribed 50 10-milligram diazepam tablets by Dr. Steven Winkler on June 21, just months before taking the lives of 58 people and injuring over 500 others. The information was obtained via the records of the Nevada Prescription Monitoring Program on Tuesday.
The drug — which is commonly known by its brand name, Valium — was purchased at a Walgreens pharmacy without insurance in Reno, Nevada, on the day it was prescribed. Paddock was under instruction to take one pill every day.
“If somebody has an underlying aggression problem and you sedate them with that drug, they can become aggressive,” said Dr. Mel Pohl, chief medical officer of the Las Vegas Recovery Center. “It can disinhibit an underlying emotional state. … It is much like what happens when you give alcohol to some people … they become aggressive instead of going to sleep.”
Dr. Pohl also told the Review-Journal that the effects of the drug can be magnified by alcohol.
A member of benzodiazepine family, Valium, can be harmful even if prescribed by a physician, according to DrugAbuse.com. Despite being a widely prescribed drug in the United States, its effects can still have a negative or — although rare — a sinister impact on the patient. At the very least, a person’s use of them indicates underlying psychological problems.
In 2015, a study was published in World Psychiatry that showed that out of 960 Finnish adults and teens convicted of homicide, their odds of killing were 45 percent higher while they were on benzodiazepines. Though experts generally agreed that the medication would not turn a normal person into a killer, they suggested that, as CBS summarized, a drug that has “particular brain effects,” like benzodiazepines, “could be the tipping point for certain individuals who are prone to violence.”
There is still no way of knowing if drugs of any sort, including benzodiazepines, played a part in Paddock’s barbaric actions, but knowing what medications he was on could most definitely assist investigators as they sift through the life of Stephen Paddock and search for what caused him to become a mass-murderer.