As a benzodiazepine, Klonopin is one of the most commonly-prescribed medications available today. This is good news for those struggling with panic disorders, but it also means this medication is even easier for drug users to abuse.
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What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam, a type of prescription drug designed to treat panic disorders and seizure disorders. Klonopin belongs to the class of drugs called benzodiazepines.
Benzos like Klonopin work by targeting certain neurotransmitters in the brain (GABA receptors) to cause sedation to the central nervous system (CNS). This sedative effect makes this type of medication useful in treating panic attacks or epilepsy.
Like other benzos, Klonopin is classified as a Schedule IV drug and can lead to addiction. Klonopin should only be taken as directed by a medical professional to decrease the risk of developing a physical dependence on the drug.
Patients with a prescription for Klonopin should take this medication only as directed by their doctor or similar healthcare provider. Do not share your prescription for Klonopin with anyone else.
Prescriptions for Klonopin may appear under one of two names:
- Klonopin (brand name)
- Clonazepam (generic name)
Besides Klonopin, the other most common benzodiazepine brand names are:
Side Effects of Klonopin Use
Some side effects may occur when taking Klonopin as directed by your doctor. However, the risk for these side effects increases when abusing Klonopin (i.e. not taking this medication as directed.)
Klonopin may cause the following short-term side effects:
- Impairment such as feeling dizzy or unsteady
- Blurred vision
- Dry mouth
- Decreased heart rate
- Lowered blood pressure
Long-term Klonopin use can lead to developing a physical dependence on the drug, as it can be addictive. Long-term side effects may also include:
- Suicidal ideation
- Behavioral changes
- Difficulty breathing
- Developing physical dependence or substance use disorder
Higher doses of Klonopin increase your risk of experiencing these side effects. Additionally, high doses of Klonopin can increase your risk of overdose. You should only use Klonopin as prescribed by your doctor.
Klonopin Abuse and Addiction
Klonopin is commonly used to treat panic disorders as well as seizure disorders like epilepsy. However, because this medication is so common, it is also commonly abused.
Klonopin abuse happens when the user is not taking Klonopin as prescribed, such as:
- Using the medication without a prescription
- Taking Klonopin to feel “high”
- Taking more Klonopin than prescribed
Like all benzodiazepines, Klonopin is considered highly addictive which makes it very important to only take Klonopin as prescribed. Abuse of Klonopin can lead to developing an addiction.
Signs of Klonopin Addiction
Signs of Klonopin addiction may not be immediately obvious because it is such a commonly-prescribed medication. However, if you are concerned about yourself or a loved one in regards to your Klonopin use, the following signs may indicate an addiction to Klonopin:
- Developing a high tolerance to Klonopin
- Having strong cravings for Klonopin
- Prioritizing Klonopin over activities you used to enjoy
- Spending excessive time obtaining, using, or recovering from Klonopin use
- Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when Klonopin is reduced or stopped*
*Withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Klonopin can have serious, even life-threatening side effects. You should never abruptly stop taking Klonopin.
As mentioned above, withdrawal from benzodiazepines—including Klonopin—can be extremely dangerous. If you want to decrease or quit your Klonopin intake, it is strongly recommended that you do so under medical supervision.
Symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal can include:
- Nausea, vomiting
- Cravings (for more of the drug)
- Rapid heart rate
- Suicidal ideation
Some of these side effects can also appear during alcohol withdrawals because of how similarly Klonopin and alcohol affect the brain.
Withdrawals from both alcohol and benzodiazepines, such as Klonopin, are considered to be the most dangerous of any drug. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that cessation of alcohol or benzodiazepine use occurs under medical supervision.
Taking Klonopin in high doses may result in an overdose. It may be difficult to recognize a Klonopin overdose, as some of these symptoms can occur as a general side effect.
Klonopin overdose symptoms may include:
- Slurred speech
- Slowed or difficulty breathing
Klonopin overdose can be treated in many cases if it is caught in time. If you are concerned that someone is experiencing a Klonopin overdose, call 911 immediately and stay with the victim until help arrives.
Klonopin Addiction Treatment
When seeking help for a Klonopin addiction, there are a variety of treatment programs available to assist you. The option you choose will depend on your level of drug use, but a doctor or healthcare provider can help you make the right selection for your unique needs.
If you or a loved one seeks treatment for a Klonopin addiction, the first step will often include detoxification. This is a medically supervised process to ensure your safety, as the withdrawal symptoms from abruptly quitting Klonopin can be life-threatening.
During detox, your vitals will be monitored as your body gradually eliminates any Klonopin from your system. This process can happen at an inpatient treatment facility or in an outpatient format, depending on your level of substance use or if you have any additional health risks.
Klonopin Treatment Programs
There are a variety of treatment center types available to help you recover from a Klonopin addiction. For more severe addiction, an inpatient rehab program will offer 24/7 care and support at a live-in facility. Typical inpatient rehab programs can last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, while some can even provide support for up to a year.
For lesser addictions, treatment can be provided through different outpatient options that provide various levels of time commitment depending on the addiction.
In addition to providing support for your physical health, these facilities all provide mental health support as well to further promote and encourage your recovery from drug addiction.
With the right support and an individual treatment plan, recovery from Klonopin addiction is well within your reach.
Klonopin is among the 4 most-commonly prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States, with the other three being: Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) reports that from 2019 to 2020, emergency room visits for benzodiazepine overdose increased by 24%.
In addition, the following data was collected via 23 different states:
- More than 90% of overdose deaths involving benzos also involved opioids (either prescription or illicit)
- From 2019 to 2020, prescription benzo deaths increased by 22%
- Benzos were also involved in almost 7,000 overdose deaths between January 2019 to June of 2020. That makes up 17% of ALL drug overdose deaths in that period.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) likewise reports the following statistic: In 2019, 16% of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines.
This data not only highlights the increase in benzodiazepine abuse but also illustrates the importance of NOT combining benzodiazepines with other drugs.
Support for Friends and Family Members
The road to recovery from addiction can seem long, especially for the friends and family on the sidelines. However, you may not be aware of all the resources that are available to the loved ones of addicts.
Support groups like AlAnon exist specifically for the family and friends of those struggling with addiction to provide them with a safe, compassionate space to work through their feelings. Addiction can be scary and tragic, so having a peer group to lean on during this difficult time can make a world of difference.
FAQs about Klonopin
What is the difference between Xanax (alprazolam) and Klonopin (clonazepam)?
Both of these prescription drugs are benzodiazepines, commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders. However, Klonopin stays in your system longer than Xanax:
- Xanax half-life: 6-25 hours
- Klonopin half-life: 22-54 hours
What are the side effects of Klonopin?
Like most other benzodiazepines, Klonopin can cause some side effects, including:
- Drowsiness or sedation
- Trouble concentrating
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Impairment (such as feeling dizzy/unsteady)
- Slowed heart rate
Is Klonopin (clonazepam) addictive?
Yes. Benzodiazepines such as Klonopin carry a high risk for causing the user to develop a physical dependence or addiction to this drug. It is important to only take Klonopin as directed by your physician. Never share your Klonopin prescription with others.