Clonazepam is also known by the brand name, Klonopin, and is a long-acting benzodiazepine. Doctors usually prescribe clonazepam to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and certain seizure disorders.
Because clonazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine, that means it stays in the body for extended periods of time, easing the symptoms it is intended to treat, such as anxiety, alcohol withdrawal symptoms, or panic disorders.
As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, clonazepam slows the functioning of the brain. Clonazepam is believed to enhance the activity of gamma-aminobutyric acid, or GABA, receptors. The main function of GABA is to slow the other neurons in the brain.
These effects help by decreasing anxiety and the activity of seizures. Increased relaxation and lowered anxiety may be key reasons why people abuse benzodiazepines like Klonopin.
Clonazepam abuse can quickly lead to addiction. Addiction to clonazepam is extremely dangerous and can easily become unmanageable. Detoxification programs are often needed to help a person addicted to benzodiazepines like clonazepam.
Who Is At Risk For Klonopin (Clonazepam) Abuse?
A person taking clonazepam is at risk for abusing their medication, even if they take it as prescribed. The positive effects of clonazepam may compel a person to take higher or more frequent doses to feel those same effects for longer.
Abusing high doses of clonazepam usually results in euphoria, which may encourage continued substance abuse. Continued abuse of high levels of clonazepam places a person at a significant risk of developing an addiction to Klonopin.
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Clonazepam Abuse Effects
Taking clonazepam regularly for a period of time has a risk for unwanted side effects. The intensity and severity of these side effects depend on how much clonazepam is taken.
Additional effects may occur when higher than prescribed doses of clonazepam is being abused.
Some undesirable side effects of excessive or long-term clonazepam use and abuse include:
- extreme sleepiness
- decreased reaction time
- loss of appetite
- trouble breathing
- memory impairment
- concentration problems
- dry mouth
- vision issues
Snorting or injecting clonazepam can intensify these side effects, as well as add other harmful side effects due to the method of abuse.
Snorting any substance can cause significant damage to the sensitive nasal tissue in the nose. It can also damage the throat and lungs.
Injecting clonazepam can result in infections at the injection site, collapsed veins, and a high risk of HIV or Hepatitis C transmission from sharing needles.
Clonazepam, when taken in excessively high doses, has been known to result in aggressive and erratic behaviors, mood swings, facial swelling, issues swallowing, and hives. Overdose and death are also risk factors of high doses of Klonopin.
Symptoms Of Clonazepam Overdose
Abusing any benzodiazepine raises the risk of overdose, however, because clonazepam is long-acting benzo, there are additional factors that are cause for concern.
Taking high doses of clonazepam or doses too close together can result in high levels of the drug accumulating in the body. Accidental overdoses can occur due to this build-up.
Poly-substance abuse is common with individuals who abuse clonazepam, typically mixing benzos with opioids or alcohol. This mixing of different substances places a person at extreme risk of overdose since there is no way to safely combine these substances.
A person may display some or all of the following symptoms during a clonazepam overdose:
- clammy skin
- bluish lips or fingertips
- loss of coordination
Emergency medical services are important for a person who is experiencing a clonazepam overdose. Medical personnel are able to give romazicon, which is helpful in reversing a number of the effects of clonazepam overdose.
Signs Of Clonazepam (Klonopin) Addiction
Abusing clonazepam for extended periods of time results in permanent changes to brain structure, which often leads to addiction. At that point, the brain is unable to function normally and withdrawal symptoms will emerge without clonazepam.
Withdrawal and cravings are just two of the symptoms associated with clonazepam addiction. Additional signs of clonazepam addiction include:
- being unable to stop or lower dose of clonazepam
- seeking other benzodiazepines when clonazepam is unavailable
- responsibilities are negatively impacted by Klonopin use
- continued abuse of Klonopin regardless of negative consequences
- avoiding situations where they cannot abuse Klonopin
- running out of Klonopin before refill is due
- going to multiple doctors to get several different prescriptions (doctor shopping)
- stealing or asking for clonazepam from others
- buying clonazepam on the street
- abusing additional substances while abusing clonazepam
Avoiding others, becoming secretive, or isolation are also warning signs of a clonazepam addiction, as well as a decrease in personal hygiene.
It is important that a person seek professional help from a medically supervised detox program when attempting to stop taking clonazepam. Withdrawal from benzos can be fatal, and monitoring a person experiencing clonazepam withdrawal could save their life.
What Happens During Clonazepam Withdrawal?
In many cases, clonazepam withdrawal can be painful and pose several health risks, such as:
- high heart rates
- elevated blood pressure
- inability to eat
- muscle spasms
Individuals who have abused clonazepam for more than six months usually experience severe withdrawal symptoms that include stroke, seizures, disorientation, or hallucinations.
Treatment specialists do not support the “cold-turkey” method for those addicted to clonazepam. Detox centers are capable of easing the discomfort of withdrawal from clonazepam, while also monitoring for the more severe clonazepam withdrawal symptoms.
Clonazepam Treatment Options
During the initial intake, an assessment is usually completed to determine the level of care that is needed. Once admitted to treatment, attending detox is usually the next step in treating clonazepam addiction.
Detox provides a controlled unit to utilize a method known as “tapering”, where the benzo dose is gradually reduced over time, and eventually removed completely.
Tapering helps to decrease the intensity of withdrawal symptoms. Being in a supervised program may also ensure that if withdrawal becomes too painful, there are staff nearby to administer medications or supplements to help ease those symptoms.
After detox, treatment for clonazepam addiction begins. Exploring the nature of their addiction and how to move forward in recovery in a structured environment can increase the potential for long-term sobriety.
Once treatment is complete, many residents continue on into an outpatient or sober living situation.
These transitional options provide more structure and supervision that returning home. This can be an important part of treatment, allowing the person to use the skills learned in a rehab program.
Treating Clonazepam Addiction At Vertava Health of Massachusetts
Vertava Health of Massachusetts offers different treatment programs for individuals seeking addiction treatment. The methods used include psychotherapy, mindfulness, cognitive behavioral therapy, and medication-assisted treatment (MAT) in both individual and group sessions.
Vertava Health of Massachusetts breaks substance abuse treatment down to three stages: detox, residential/learning, and day treatment/practice. Once the goals are completed in one stage, the resident can move forward to the next stage.
Substance abuse and addiction do not have to continue to dictate the lives of you or your loved ones. Our treatment specialists are available and awaiting your call, reach out today.
- U.S. Food and Drug Administration — Klonopin Prescribing Data
- National Alliance on Mental Illness — Clonazepam (Klonopin)
- Medicine (Baltimore) — A Case Report of Clonazepam Dependence
- Ochner Journal — Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System-Mediated Effects