Public records reveal Las Vegas shooter Stephen Paddock was prescribed the anti-anxiety drug Valium. He may have also been taking an antidepressant.
Valium, which is the trade name for Diazepam, is an anti-anxiety medication that is one of a number of drugs classified as a benzodiazepine, nicknamed "Benzo." Others include Xanax, Klonopin and Ativan.
These drugs are linked to violent behavior in some patients. Psychiatrist Peter Breggin, author of Medication Madness: The Role of Psychiatric Drugs in Cases of Violence, Suicide and Crime is one of a growing number of health professionals who say these drugs can, in some people, cause such severe personality changes that they can trigger the rage and even insanity.
Breggin believes in Paddock's case, his drug use could be the key to what led to his killing rampage. Breggin said Valium "can cause impulsivity, disinhibition, or loss of self-control resulting in violence."
Breggin said he recieved an unconfirmed reports that Paddock "was prescribed antidepressants, which are commonly given along with Benzos." If true, that likely exacerbated the situation, according to Breggin. However that link might never be known because while physicians must report benzodiazepine presecriptions to the Prescription Monitoring Program, they are not required to do so when prescribing antidepressants, Breggin said.
Earlier, Breggin told CBN News he believes psychiatric drugs play a larger role in mass killings than most in the medical community are willing to admit.
Like Breggin, pharmacist Suzy Cohen thinks the link between Paddock's Valium prescription and the mass killing is more significant than many within the medical community are willing to admit.
"He was either on a benzo or had just gotten off one," Cohen told CBN, referring to the danger of not only taking these drugs, but also of stopping their use too fast.
She said although we might never know why Paddock became a mass killer with little to no warning signs, she said taking a benzodiazepine is "the fastest way to go from a normal, good citizen to insane at the drop of a hat."
She continued, "I'm certainly not blaming Valium for a gunman gone mad; millions of people take these types of drugs without becoming psychotic. But I will share this with you: in a 2015 World Psychiatry study, 960 Finnish adults and teens convicted of homicide proved that the odds of them killing someone were 45% higher during time frame they took benzodiazepines. And one year prior, researchers in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Psychiatry concluded: 'It appears that benzodiazepine use is moderately associated with subsequent aggressive behavior.'"
Cohen said although Paddock's drug use raises red flags, more must be known about it to understand the connection to the Las Vegas killings. "Did he stay on it? Did he take more than prescribed? Did he combine it with other psychoactive medications? Did he suddenly stop it after taking such a high dose?" she questioned, "Unfortunately, these are questions for which we might never find answers."