Klonopin, known generically as clonazepam, is a fast-acting oral prescription medication prescribed to treat seizures and panic disorders. It also can be issued to treat schizophrenia, tic disorders, and restless leg syndrome, among other conditions. This benzodiazepine is a tranquilizer that slows down brain activity and eases anxiety in the people who take it.
Klonopin interacts with GABA receptors in the brain and slows down brain activity, which reduces feelings of agitation and stress in its users. As with other benzodiazepines, Klonopin is designed for short-term treatment.
However, that doesn’t mean people use it as prescribed. It is a highly addictive medication and has the potential to be abused if not taken as directed by a physician. It is reportedly the second-most abused benzodiazepine after Xanax. It is often abused for its euphoric and relaxing effects, and addiction can happen rather quickly as tolerance and dependence on this substance build.
When people abuse the drug for longer periods, and in higher doses, the brain will eventually not be able to produce feelings of calmness or relaxation without depending on the drug to do it. Slang names it is known by include benzos, kpin, pin, and tranks. Klonopin is commonly abused with other substances, mostly alcohol.
Chronic or frequent Klonopin use can lead users to build up a tolerance for the drug, a key sign that addiction is underway. Having a high tolerance for a substance means users have to consume the drug in higher doses to get the same effects they once had with smaller doses. Some users then start taking more than they were prescribed or using the drug just to get high.
Klonopin abuse symptoms include:
Some characteristics that can indicate whether you or a loved one is addicted to Klonopin include:
These are just some of the early warning signs. Even if you notice you or your loved one has one or two signs, it is enough to cause concern that addiction could be taking a toll on their well-being.
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If you or someone you know wants to end Klonopin addiction or physical dependence, do it safely with the assistance of addiction healthcare professionals. They can help wean you off the drug gradually and manage any uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms experienced. Quitting cold turkey or attempting to withdraw and detox on your own can lead to overdose and relapse, and both of those can be fatal.
A medical detox is typically the first step to end Klonopin addiction, and that procedure is available at many professional drug addiction rehabilitation programs. It is a 24/7-monitored process that can last anywhere from three to 10 days or longer, depending on the individual’s situation.
Medical professionals may have you undergo a tapering process, which will gradually reduce the dose of Klonopin until you regain stability. Safely withdrawing from Klonopin is also recommended for you to avoid relapse. Klonopin users are advised to be honest how long and how much they used, so the taper process is adjusted for maximum effectiveness. It is said to take about two weeks to safely detox from Klonopin.
After the medical detox is done, the next step is to undergo a thorough evaluation before entering a treatment program. The evaluation ensures you or your loved one receives the proper diagnosis and treatment program that addresses medical and psychological needs.
Clients who successfully enter treatment for Klonopin addiction will address the physical and psychological sides of their addiction. These treatment programs are customized. Depending on the person needing treatment, they could be placed in an inpatient treatment or residential treatment program that can last from 28-90 days in a facility. They also will participate in diverse therapies that can help the person overcome their addiction.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse advises that drug rehab enrollees spend at least 90 days (three months) or more are needed to treat drug addiction. A longer stay gives all who undergo treatment a chance to access and develop the tools they will need to live a life of sustained sobriety.
People who are recovering from chronic Klonopin abuse may want to consider using aftercare services to help them focus on their recovery goals and reduce their chances of relapse. Some people pursue follow-up medical care and ongoing therapies to help manage Post-acute withdrawal symptoms, known as PAWS, that can happen long after dependence on the drug has passed.
According to NIDA, benzodiazepines such as Klonopin are ripe for misuse. They are intended for short-term use, but some users take it beyond that and risk developing an addiction that can be difficult to end.
In an effort to enhance the drug’s effects, polydrug use, or using more than one drug at once, is common among Klonopin users. The most common drug cocktails include cocaine and other stimulants to thwart Klonopin’s sedative effects. Users also have known to mix this benzo with alcohol to amplify the drug’s calming effects. This is a dangerous practice and is not recommended. Mixing benzodiazepines with alcohol amps up the dangers of both substances as they are both central nervous system depressants. Mixing these two substances also increases the risk of depressed breathing and an overdose, which can end someone’s life.
Pregnant women are advised to avoid taking Klonopin. Clonazepam, as well as other benzodiazepines, have been linked to fetal damage like congenital malformations, especially when the drugs are taken in the first trimester.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention discussed with the public that benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, are responsible for 17 percent of opioid overdose deaths from 1999 to 2006.
Klonopin is commonly abused alongside opioids because it enhances the euphoria that benzos cause, and it helps take the edge off withdrawal symptoms. Mixing these drugs can have grave consequences. The combination of drugs increases the potency of all drugs involved, especially long-lasting benzos like Klonopin.
A 2005 report discovered a startling number of emergency room visits that included benzodiazepines and opioids. Thirty-four percent of all visits for prescription drug abuse had benzodiazepines present.
Klonopin is commonly mixed with alcohol to enhance its potency.
Benzos, as we’ve described in this article, have a significant risk of abuse on their own. Those with a history of substance abuse are at a higher risk of developing a Klonopin addiction. Overdose is a likely scenario when the drug is used alone, but the odds increase exponentially when used in conjunction with other substances.
DEA. (October 2014). Drug Enforcement Administration. Retrieved from https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_chem_info/benzo.pdf
National Institute on Drug Abuse, (January, 2018).Principles of Drug Addiction Treatment: A Research-Based Guide (Third Edition). National Institute on Drug Abuse. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/principles-drug-addiction-treatment-research-based-guide-third-edition/frequently-asked-questions/how-long-does-drug-addiction-treatment
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (n.d.). 8: Medical detoxification. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification