Stephen Paddock, the 64-year-old retiree responsible for murdering 59 people and injuring hundreds in the Las Vegas mass shooting, was on a Valium prescription at the time.
According to the Las Vegas Review-Journal, Paddock was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug, also known as diazepam, in June of this year by a Las Vegas doctor. The revelation is notable, as it could begin to explain why the otherwise law-abiding citizen suddenly snapped.
Diazepam has been known to cause aggressive and even violent behavior in some people, especially if those individuals already have behavior and mental issues. While primarily used to treat anxiety, Valium is also used to treat muscle spasms and seizures from alcohol withdrawal.
Although initial reports of Paddock portrayed him as quiet and somewhat reclusive, we have since learned that he has exhibited anger issues. There is even one account that he was verbally abusive to his girfriend, who is now considered a person of interest in the Las Vegas shooting investigation.
Paddock was prescribed 50 10 milligram diazepam tablets – also known as Valium – on June 21 by Vegas doctor Steven Winkler, the Las Vegas Review-Journal reports.
Diazepam is a sedative-hypnotic drug that can trigger aggressive behavior in people with underlying behavioral problems, multiple studies have shown.
It is not known why Paddock was prescribed the drug, or whether he had any behavioral issues.
Multiple people who knew him, including his own brother Eric, say he displayed no outward signs of aggression and did not appear as the kind of person who would carry out a mass shooting.
Staff at Dr Winkler’s office would not confirm to the Review-Journal if Paddock had been a patient, and said the doctor would not be answering questions.
One study conducted in Finland, and another in Australia and New Zealand, linked the use of benzodiazepines – the class of drugs to which diazepam belongs – to increased instances of aggressive behavior.
Scott Dohorty outlined how diazepam works, and the potential side effects, to Fox News.
When administered correctly, diazepam works to enhance the effects of GABA, a neurotransmitter found in the neurons of the cortex in the brain that helps to reduce stress and anxiety. GABA also contributes to motor control, vision and other cortical functions.
Dehorty described diazepam as a “highly addictive medication, which can have paradoxical effects.” He cautioned that continued use of the medication could cause patients to suffer from symptoms they initially sought relief from. Additional side effects may include confusion, dependence, drowsiness, weakness, insomnia, anxiety and headaches.
We do not know what was in Paddock’s system, but that will likely come after an autopsy is performed.