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Klonopin (Clonazepam) Abuse & Addiction

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Klonopin (brand name for clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine. Benzodiazepines, or benzos, are a class of prescription drugs. Klonopin is prescribed for mental illnesses like anxiety disorder. In particular, it used for panic attacks or panic disorder, and to prevent seizures.1

Is Klonopin Dangerous?

Klonopin, like all benzodiazepines, is generally safe when taken for a short time, such as 2-4 weeks.2 However, the safety of Klonopin’s use and other benzodiazepines has not been established beyond 4 weeks. Furthermore, some studies have shown that any type of benzodiazepines use can be very dangerous for people over the age of 65, partly due to the increased risk of falls in elderly people when using benzodiazepines, as well as cognitive confusion.2

Like any prescription drug, Klonopin can be dangerous if abused. However, people who recreationally abuse Klonopin and other benzodiazepines do so because they enhance the effects of other drugs like alcohol. In addition, some people who abuse stimulants use Klonopin and other benzodiazepines to help lessen the negative side effects of using stimulants. Other people who abuse opioids use Klonopin and other types of benzodiazepines to help lessen their symptoms of opioid withdrawal.3

Klonopin and Alcohol

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are dangerous when combined with alcohol or other drugs. Using alcohol with Klonopin, or combining opioids with Klonopin, greatly increases the risk of overdose, as opioids and alcohol are also central nervous system depressants. Taking these other substances with Klonopin can lead to depressed breathing and death.

Alcohol is involved in 1 in 5 benzodiazepine overdose deaths.3

What are the Side Effects of Klonopin?

Klonopin has both short- and long-term effects, though these can vary from person to person. Short-term side effects often refer to how the drug initially makes you feel. Long-term side effects, on the other hand, generally refer to lasting mental or physical effect the drug has upon your body.

Short-Term Side Effects of Klonopin

Klonopin is generally safe to take for 2-4 weeks under a doctor’s supervision. However, beyond that, benzodiazepines like Klonopin are not recommended. Klonopin is addictive. Half of the people who take benzodiazepines for longer than 4 weeks become physically dependent on them.4

In the short-term, Klonopin relaxes people and depresses the central nervous system. It can be taken 1-3 times per day, so in general, the effects last a few hours. These effects include:1

  • Drowsiness.
  • Dizziness.
  • Unsteadiness.
  • Issues with coordination.
  • Problems with thinking and focus.

Long Term Side Effects of Klonopin

If a person continues to use benzodiazepines over the long-term, several physical and mental outcomes can occur, including:4

  • Agitation.
  • Hostility.
  • Depression.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Delusions.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Problems with thinking.
  • Confusion.
  • Movement disorders.
  • Speech difficulties.
  • Tremors.
  • Weak muscles.

How do you get Addicted to Klonopin?

Klonopin addiction generally occurs either by becoming dependent and addicted after being prescribed Klonopin by a doctor or by recreational Klonopin abuse.3

It is relatively easy to become dependent upon Klonopin and other benzos if you take them for more than 4 weeks, even if prescribed by a physician. 4  Risk factors that tend to increase the possibility that you will become addicted include:3

  • Cooccurring psychiatric disorder.
  • History of substance abuse.
  • Family history of substance abuse.
prescription drug klonopin

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines affect the reward center of the brain and activate a process that results in a relaxed state and mild euphoria. In addition, tolerance can occur quickly with benzodiazepines, meaning that a person must take more and more of them to keep getting the same effects as before. As a person takes higher doses of Klonopin, physical dependence and addiction are more likely to occur.4

Another issue with all benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, is rebound anxiety, which can lead to benzodiazepine dependence. When a person takes Klonopin or other benzodiazepines for anxiety, he or she will feel a reduction in anxious feelings.

However, as soon as a person stops taking Klonopin, his or her anxiety symptoms will return, sometimes even more intensely than they were before taking Klonopin. To make the anxiety go away, the person takes another Klonopin and thus sets up a cycle that creates dependency.4

Is Klonopin More Addictive Than Xanax?

People also often ask if Klonopin is less addictive than Xanax.

These 2 drugs are the top 2 benzodiazepines reported in emergency room visits for benzodiazepine abuse. Xanax is named about twice as often as Klonopin as a drug of abuse, but it is also prescribed twice as often. So overall, it is likely that Xanax and Klonopin are about equally addictive.

Klonopin Abuse Symptoms

When a person becomes dependent on Klonopin, they will develop both physical and behavioral symptoms of abuse.

You might be wondering, “How can you tell if someone is abusing Klonopin?” Unfortunately, only a practitioner with the skills and experience to conduct a substance abuse evaluation can determine if a person is abusing Klonopin. However, you may be able to recognize these physical and behavioral symptoms of Klonopin addiction:

Physical Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction

The physical symptoms of Klonopin addiction include:5

  • Cravings for Klonopin.
  • Tolerance and having to take more and more to feel the effects.
  • Symptoms of withdrawal, such as insomnia and rebound anxiety, when trying to stop using Klonopin.

Behavioral Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction

In addition to the physical symptoms of addiction, Klonopin addiction also leads to such behavioral symptoms as:

  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop using Klonopin.
  • Spending lots of money and time getting and using Klonopin.
  • Using Klonopin in dangerous situations, such as driving.
  • Interpersonal conflict around the use of Klonopin.
  • Being unable to fulfill obligations at work and home.
  • Giving up favorite activities in favor of using Klonopin.

Klonopin Withdrawal: Can I Quit on My Own?

If you have problems with using Klonopin, you may be thinking about stopping the use of Klonopin on your own. However, abruptly stopping Klonopin can have terrible consequences for your health. Over time, your body has come to depend on Klonopin and if you stop, you will go into withdrawal. The symptoms Klonopin and other benzodiazepine withdrawal include:4

  • Delirium, especially in the elderly.
  • Seizures, which can be life-threatening.
  • Insomnia.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Muscle cramps.
  • Restlessness.
  • Heart palpitations.
  • Extreme anxiety.

In some cases, the sudden withdrawal of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines can lead to death. It is not recommended to stop using Klonopin or any benzodiazepines without medical supervision.6

Occasionally, a person can detox from Klonopin on an outpatient basis, but only when the dose is in the typical range that is prescribed under normal circumstances, there is no other type of substance dependence, and the person can be closely monitored by friends or family.

Even when these conditions are met, there is still a significant risk for seizure.6

Are You Struggling with Klonopin Addiction?

You may be wondering if you have a problem with Klonopin and are unsure if you need to seek help.

When reading the signs of physical and mental addiction to Klonopin, do you recognize 1 or more of the symptoms? Are you looking for help but are unsure where to start?

If you answered yes to either of these questions, you should consider Klonopin addiction treatment for yourself or your loved one.

How American Addiction Centers Can Help

As a leader among providers of addiction treatment in the United States, American Addiction Centers (AAC) is at the forefront of helping people reclaim their lives from addiction.7 American Addiction Centers provides care that treats people as a whole, by offering evidence-based care focused on addressing the underlying causes that contribute to addiction, as well as physical and mental health disorders, and readjusting socially without the use of substances.7, 8

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