While the Justice Department immediately confirmed it is investigating the Charleston church shooting as a “hate” crime and President Obama chose to focus on the need for more gun control, a less-publicized aspect of the Charleston church-shooting story is the role of a powerful drug that the 21-year-old suspect was known to be using.
The picture beginning to emerge about the shooter, Dylann Roof, is one of a young man who was into long-term and hard-core drug abuse. He was apprehended at a mall in February by a police officer who made a startling discovery.
Roof had been using a powerful narcotic, Suboxone, which is prescribed to treat pain and opiate addictions including heroin. This drug is also sold illegally on the street and police say this is how Roof came into its possession.
According to a CBS News report, Roof went into a Bath and Body Works store on Feb. 28 wearing all black. He asked “out of the ordinary questions,” including how many associates were working, when they closed and what time they leave. Mall employees complained and when an officer approached him Roof said his parents were pressuring him to “get a job.”
The officer searched Roof and found “orange strips” that Roof said were “Suboxone,” a Schedule III narcotic. Police arrested Roof and had his 2000 Hyundai Elantra towed.
The media frenzy surrounding the shooting is focusing on Roof’s alleged hatred for black people.
His Facebook page would indicate that may indeed be the case. He had posted a photograph of himself staring blankly at the camera with a swamp in the background. On his jacket are two flags: one flown in South Africa during apartheid, and one from Rhodesia, an area of Africa now known as Zimbabwe.
His victims Wednesday night included a coach, a librarian and a young pastor.
Many people are racist, but why do some kill while others don’t?
Could something have pushed him over the edge?
John Mullins, who went to high school with Roof, told The Daily Beast that he remembers him as being “kind of wild” and a “pill popper.”
“He used drugs heavily a lot,” Mullins said. “It was obviously harder than marijuana. He was like a pill popper, from what I understood. Like Xanax, and stuff like that.”
Suboxone is even more hardcore than Xanax.
According to Drugs.com, Suboxone is prescribed for treatment of patients addicted to methadone, heroin, morphine or other opioid drugs. “[It] should be used as part of a complete treatment plan to include counseling and psychosocial support,” according to the site.
Mental Health Daily lists the adverse reactions associated with Suboxone as extreme depression and dysphoria, depersonalization, confusion and anxiety, irritability, mood swings and “fear of going crazy.” These adverse effects can be most acute during the patient’s withdrawal period.
If Roof was using the drug without the supervision of a doctor, he could have also been mixing it with alcohol. That increases the negative side effects, several medical websites warn.
“You may not feel like yourself during the withdrawal, which may cause you to freak out,” warns Medical Health Daily. “If you are feeling as though you have become a totally different person … And chemically, you have become a different person – your endorphin and neurotransmitters are different than they were when you started. It will take a while to feel like your ‘old self’ again.”
One patient named James posted his experience with Suboxone on Mental Health Daily:
“Man this is the toughest thing to go threw [sic] period. I’m about 3 weeks into it and I feel like hurting myself. I have been threw [sic] a lot of stuff in my life but this takes the cake,” he commented.
Another, Lana, posted, “I’m going insane!!” She added, “Suboxone increased my depression, I lack motivation, I was nauseous nonstop, I gained weight. … I lost all motivation and love for life.”
Kris posted, “My doc won’t refill my prescription. So I am sitting here, restless, irritable, mood swings, feeling like I am going to f*****g snap!!!”
Others said Suboxone was proving more addictive and difficult to shake than the original opioid drug on which they became dependent.
As WND Managing Editor David Kupelian documents in his book, “How Evil Works,” it is “simply indisputable that most perpetrators of school shootings and similar mass murders in our modern era were either on – or just recently coming off of – psychiatric medications.”
From Adam Lanza at Sandy Hook Elementary, to Columbine mass killer Eric Harris, all had been taking some form of mind-altering drugs.
Drugs to treat mental health are a multi-billion dollar business in the U.S.
Suboxone is manufactured by the pharmaceutical unit of U.K.-based Reckitt Benckiser.
Analysts have advocated ditching the pharmaceutical unit, which gets almost all of its revenue from Suboxone, Bloomberg reported last year. The business once accounted for a fifth of Reckitt Benckiser’s profit, “yet sales and profit margins have ebbed as Suboxone faces a growing roster of competitors eager to reach the estimated 48 million Americans who are chronic opioid users,” according to Bloomberg.
See WND’s extensive coverage of the Charleston, South Carolina, church massacre: