Long-term Klonopin abuse can lead to a variety of issues in virtually every area of life. Comprehensive treatment is needed to effectively address addiction, helping you to leave Klonopin abuse in your past and embrace a healthier future.
An Addictive Drug
In July 2018, The Pew Charitable Trusts named Klonopin one of the three drugs that could stem the next drug crisis. Reasons for this assessment are that experts agree benzodiazepines such as Klonopin should only be used for short periods of time.
Benzodiazepines are known as sedatives, and they are often prescribed for anxiety or panic disorders. In addition to taking care of these issues, Klonopin can manage seizures.
These medications should not be taken with alcohol or opioids.
Benzodiazepines like Klonopin are known to cause dependency and can become habit-forming. As a result, they are not often recommended for long-term use. If you have been using Klonopin for a long period of time, it’s likely you are dependent on the drug.
What Klonopin Is Meant to Treat
All benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, are known as central nervous system depressants. They are also referred to as sedatives or tranquilizers because of their calming effects.
Clonazepam, the generic name for Klonopin, is often prescribed for panic disorder and panic attacks. It is known to effectively manage seizures and can be used in patients who have epilepsy.
You may also receive a prescription for Klonopin if you have anxiety or if you deal with both anxiety and bipolar disorder. Klonopin reduces feelings of anxiety or panic because it influences a neurotransmitter that has roles in anxiety, sleep, relaxation, and excitement.
This neurotransmitter is called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Stimulating it causes you to feel relaxed or calmer during a panic attack.
Clonazepam is known to work relatively fast, and it is often taken several times daily.
The effects of Klonopin can last anywhere from 6 to 12 hours, but it can take between 30 to 40 hours to fully get rid of Klonopin in your body.
The following are the most common side effects of Klonopin:
- Sleepiness or drowsiness
- Coordination issues
Everyone is different, and this could change how you experience side effects of Klonopin. The following are less common side effects of Klonopin:
- Blurred vision
- Increased urination
- Decrease in libido
- Joint or muscle pain
It is possible to have suicidal thoughts when you begin taking Klonopin. If this occurs, tell your doctor immediately. These thoughts will generally dissipate as you become used to the medication.
You should not take Klonopin if you have the following health issues:
- Liver disease: This could make it harder to metabolize Klonopin and cause it to accumulate in your body, putting you at risk of increased side effects.
- Acute narrow angle glaucoma: This is known to worsen if benzodiazepines are taken.
- Depression: Benzodiazepines could worsen your symptoms of depression.
Dependency vs. Addiction
Klonopin is a scheduled medication that is known to cause dependency, and it can be abused.
With dependence, your body gets used to Klonopin and adapts to its presence. Dependence is coupled with tolerance, so you eventually need to take higher doses of Klonopin to achieve the same results.
People can be dependent on medications they use legitimately for medical reasons, so dependence does not necessarily mean you are addicted to a drug. Addiction requires that you abuse the drug in some way.
Once you are physically dependent on Klonopin, you’ll experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop taking the drug. Withdrawal from benzodiazepines can be life-threatening, so it should never be attempted without medical supervision. It can consist of a range of symptoms, such as shaking, sweating, cravings, nightmares, and even seizures.
Due to the potential severity of benzodiazepine withdrawal, physicians normally employ a tapering approach. With this method of detox, the dosage of a long-acting benzo is gradually lowered over a period of weeks or months, preventing the most severe withdrawal symptoms. Many people do not experience any withdrawal symptoms with this approach.
Signs of Abuse
Healthline included Klonopin and related benzodiazepines in its list of most addictive medications. Like alcohol, Klonopin can cause feelings of relaxation. With high doses, it can provide a high. This may cause users to become more talkative and lose their inhibitions.
Klonopin is often misused in stressful situations. People may start taking it to take the edge off stress, and use can quickly escalate.
Be aware of these common signs of Klonopin misuse:
- Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal after not taking Klonopin
- Wanting to control use, but being unable to
- Taking significant measures to obtain Klonopin, even if money is tight or the process is time-consuming
- Problems meeting personal, professional, or academic responsibilities because of drug use
- Needing larger doses of Klonopin to achieve necessary or desired effects
Additional signs of Klonopin abuse that pertain to various drugs include:
- Disheveled appearance. A person may seem careless about their appearance or even hygiene.
- Sudden economic difficulties that do not have a reasonable explanation.
- Slurred speech, unsteady gait, and symptoms that are similar to drunkenness.
- Different behavior, such as a more irritable mood or secretive behavior.
Who Is at Risk of Abusing Klonopin?
Some people are more prone to misusing benzodiazepines because of genetic or environmental factors, such as:
- Using Klonopin for more than four weeks.
- Personal history of abusing alcohol or other substances
- A family history of substance abuse.
- Mental health issues, such as depression or anxiety.
- Friends or family members who support drug use.
- Dealing an anxiety or panic disorder for a long time.
Treatment for Addiction to Klonopin
If you regularly abuse Klonopin or other drugs, it’s likely you are struggling with addiction. While addiction is a chronic condition, it can be fully managed with comprehensive treatment.
Each treatment program will vary according to the needs of the individual, but there are some general components you can expect with most programs.
- Diagnosis is the first step in treatment. A supervising physician will ask questions about your use of Klonopin and let you know if you are abusing the drug or have a more severe misuse issue.
- Detox is often next step, and it usually consists of slowly reducing the Klonopin dose. Again, this tapered approach is most often recommended for withdrawing from benzodiazepines. This should decrease the likelihood that you will experience withdrawal, but it will not necessarily completely eliminate these symptoms.
- A customized therapy program is the core of treatment. You will have to choose between inpatient or outpatient treatment, and your treatment team will weigh in on the best choice for you based on your intake assessment. Regardless of the chosen option, rehab will generally include:
- Substance abuse education. You will learn how Klonopin and other drugs affect your body and how addiction works. This base of knowledge can help you understand why you feel compelled to use substances and the best ways to manage your recovery.
- Various forms of therapy. A lot of work takes place in individual therapy where you work one on one with a therapist. Group therapy is also a key part of rehab, where sessions include several clients working with a therapist.Many rehab programs offer other forms of therapy that can complement your overall program. These may include art therapy, wilderness therapy, or animal-assisted therapy. Ultimately, it’s about finding the best combination of therapies that can best serve you.
- Your treatment can change as your needs change. Tapering may also take a longer time than you expect, so your dosage will be consistently monitored depending on how you respond. Addiction specialists will also make sure you are not misusing Klonopin or other drugs during treatment.
- Relapse prevention. Addiction is a chronic disease, and relapse is common during recovery. Treatment involves identifying relapse triggers so you are prepared to avoid them or deal with them if they can’t be avoided. If relapse occurs, the key is to get back on track as soon as possible, and this may mean a return to intensive treatment.
- Aftercare planning. Treatment can last anywhere from 28 to 90 days, though NIDA recommends at least 90 days of treatment. Most people do not stay in treatment long enough to fully address their needs, so an aftercare plan is essential to sustained recovery. You’ll build your aftercare plan with your therapist before you exit formal treatment.