Yes, what we watch matters! The kind of entertainment we spend millions of dollars to make here in Hollywood and then stuff down people’s throats all around the world matters. The video games that kids play these days are pure violence. They glorify and encourage it. Because simulated violence is ubiquitous, we have become desensitized, and shooting a theater full of people becomes a plausible concept for a person who is mentally unstable. Then, when something like this happens, everyone is shocked. They ought not to be. I think the only way to prevent future horrific tragedies of this kind is to lessen the overall violence in our culture, and prevent drug abuse. Anything less would be just like using a Band Aid to cover a gaping gunshot wound.
We cannot continue to sell guns, recruit young people into the military turning them into killing machines, make movies in which people blow each other to smithereens, and expect all this violence not to affect people’s mental wellness.
The fact that the shooter was on Vicodin needs to be looked at very closely, especially if he was addicted to it. According to reports, he took 100mg of Vicodin two-and-a-half-hours before the shooting. When someone takes Vicodin, it is noted by the amount of hydrocodone (usually 5mg or 10mg), not the acetaminophen content, as Vicodin is a mixture of hydrocodone with acetaminophen. If he took 100mg of Vicodin, what this really means is that he took 100mg of hydrocodone – twenty of the weaker 5mg pills, or ten of the stronger 10mg variety. Each 500 mg pill will have a couple hundred mg of acetaminophen in it, which means he had a lot of this in his system as well. Acetaminophen is the same thing as Tylenol, and any dose above 4000mg of Tylenol—that comes out to approximately 12 tablets of regular strength Tylenol and 8 tablets of extra strength—harms the liver.
Acetaminophen causes three times as many cases of liver failure as all other drugs combined, and is the most common cause of acute liver failure in the United States. And abuse of Vicodin is really hard on the body and mind (obviously). Additionally, 100mg of hydrocodone would be around the minimum lethal dosage for someone who had never taken this drug before. So, it seems likely the Aurora, Colorado shooter may have had a Vicodin addiction, thus establishing a high tolerance, because he was able to take such a large dose.
Although Vicodin is a type of opioid, and opioids are usually considered to be sedating, the addition of acetaminophen changes the chemistry. Addictive use of Vicodin can make people aggressive, out-of-control, and totally delusional – just like the shooter. Unfortunately and ironically, Vicodin was also in Heath Ledger’s system when he passed, shortly after filming The Dark Knight, in which he played The Joker, the character the shooter dressed up as before entering the movie theater. It was also reported that the shooter smoked pot, although pot will not make you kill people. The synthetic opioids that kids are using recreationally nowadays are very dangerous. Vicodin is to be used only as prescribed for severe pain due to injury or accident, not as a daily supplement. If taken in excess you may get mania and psychosis, which is what appears to have happened here. Vicodin addicts can get more energy and feel no pain, thus making them able to do things they would normally not be able to do. Since 2008, addiction and injury rates from Rx opiates alone have exceeded that of ALL illegal drugs combined.
Comments from former Vicodin users include:
- “I will never take this drug again. It sent me to a very dark, scary place.”
- “Absolute rage. Irrational, migraine type rage. Angry at everyone, everything, for about 4 hours. Knew what was happening, had no control over it. Scary stuff.”
- “Prescription upon initial dosage caused me to have volatile moods swings where I am not in control of myself. I felt so depressed causing me to cry uncontrollably then from that to anger.”
I do not believe young children start out evil and/or crazy, but I do think that our culture does have the power to take a fragile mind and destabilize it and introduce unhealthy and harmful ideas. Drugs like Vicodin are huge reasons why people can become unstable and susceptible to horrific ideas like shooting up a theater.
- Levy, Glen. Goto, Yumi. “Batman’s Weapons: What’s in the Dark Knight’s Arsenal?” Time magazine. 19 July 2012. Web. 09 August 2012.
- “When you need to know if a medication really works, why not Ask a Patient?” Ask a patient.com Web. 09 August 2012.
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