Klonopin (also known as clonazepam) is a prescription drug known for its ability to reduce anxiety levels and help curb involuntary convulsions such as seizures and spasms. However useful it may be, the potential for Klonopin addiction and abuse is alarmingly high.
To keep from falling into the pit of Klonopin dependency, having knowledge on what exactly Klonopin is and does is crucial. When battling addiction, every little detail matters.
What is Klonopin?
Just like other drug addictions, the first step in overcoming your Klonopin addiction is to know exactly what Klonopin is, what it does, and how to treat it.
The first thing worth noting is that Klonopin is a benzodiazepine, a class of psychoactive drugs known to be especially addictive. “Benzos,” as they are commonly called, skyrocket your dopamine levels and flood the brain with feel-good neurotransmitters.
Research shows that the addictive properties of benzos are similar to that of opioids and cannabinoids. As benzodiazepines build up in the body, certain receptors in the brain become more susceptible to pleasurable rushes from other neurotransmitters and dopamine rushes.
Medical Uses of Klonopin
Klonopin and other forms of clonazepam are sedatives used to treat various disorders and issues. The three main reasons for Klonopin prescriptions are to treat seizures, anxiety disorders, and muscle disorders.
Klonopin, much like other benzodiazepines, is a first-line treatment of occasional, acute seizures. The most effective and common use for Klonopin is for treating epilepsy in children. It is important to keep in mind that clonazepam is not suitable for long-term use, as it is very easy to develop a tolerance to Klonopin, and tolerance can lead to addiction.
In addition to treating seizures, Klonopin does an exceptional job at treating anxiety and difficulties one may have with social environments. It is commonly used to treat agoraphobia, which is “the fear of places and situations that might cause panic, helplessness, or embarrassment,” as defined by the Mayo Clinic.
Some less common but still very relevant disorders that may be treated by Klonopin include muscle disorders such as restless legs syndrome, akathisia, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Similar to how it treats seizures, Klonopin is effective but should not be used long-term, as it could lead to Klonopin addiction and dependency.
One use of Klonopin that is lesser known is for the treatment of alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Reduction of alcohol intake after abusing it for a long period can result in withdrawal symptoms such as anxiety, seizures, and delirium, all of which are the targeted symptoms of Klonopin.
How Dangerous is Klonopin?
Because of the positive effects paired with the quick building of tolerance, Klonopin is highly addictive and thus very dangerous when taken long-term. On average, a Klonopin user develops a tolerance after a mere six months of use. Despite this, physical dependence on Klonopin can develop sooner than six months.
The reason the human body becomes so addicted to Klonopin is that clonazepam is a long-acting substance (the effects lasting anywhere between six to 24 hours, the half-life ranging from one to two days). This means that, by the next time you take a dose of Klonopin, there will more than likely still be some of it in your body from last time. Because of this fact, your body will almost constantly have Klonopin in it, which means it will become used to the presence of benzos.
The addictiveness, in conjunction with the difficulty of quitting, makes Klonopin and benzos in general some of the hardest cases to treat. Like most drugs, quitting cold turkey may sound appealing, but is more counterproductive than effective. Someone with Klonopin addiction who attempts to quit all intake immediately may experience severe withdrawal symptoms including:
- Muscle pain
- Low attention span
- Panic attacks
- Muscle spasms
- Increased anxiety
The worst part about the withdrawal symptoms of Klonopin is that the person who has developed an addiction will be tempted to start abusing again. The reason behind this is that the withdrawal symptoms are similar to the symptoms that Klonopin is meant to treat. The result, then, is that in many cases, people in Klonopin withdrawal will end up using the drug again just to stave off the withdrawal symptoms.
As mentioned above, the main reason for Klonopin addiction or Klonopin dependency is due solely to a seemingly inescapable loop:
- A user who is struggling with anxiety, spasms, or seizures takes Klonopin
- The user begins to develop a tolerance and starts to take higher doses
- The user attempts to quit and experiences withdrawal symptoms similar to the same reasons they were prescribed Klonopin
After Step 3, most people with Klonopin dependence or addiction will go back to Step 1 and repeat the entire process. This makes early detection a necessity, and we are here to help you determine if you or a loved one may have a Klonopin addiction. Some activity behaviors that are common among longtime users of Klonopin include:
- Lowered motivation for work/school
- Preference for drug over previously enjoyable activities
- Visiting multiple doctors in order to get multiple prescriptions
If you find that you or a loved one is engaged in long-term Klonopin use, then it is more than likely that addiction is present. To begin with, no benzodiazepine should be taken during the long-term, and Klonopin is no different. Once tolerance develops, it is almost guaranteed you will also have a physiological dependence.
While Klonopin is generally a “safe” drug and can be used to treat many things, addiction specialists have found that clonazepam can be just as addictive as alprazolam (Xanax). The addiction/dependency loop mentioned earlier is a prime example as to why expert help is needed for recovery.
The first step in treating your Klonopin addiction is the detoxification process. Since your body is used to having clonazepam in it, withdrawal symptoms may occur. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on how long the user has been taking Klonopin. Detoxification does not include quitting cold turkey, but rather slowly lowering doses. For this reason, Klonopin detox may take longer than that of other drugs.
After five-to-seven days of detox, you will continue through the inpatient treatment program at our facility. Under 24/7 medical supervision, you will transition from detox into a less intensive level of treatment. The residential treatment program is the next highest level of treatment, and the trained facility staff will work hard to make sure you feel as at-home as possible. In a comfortable environment, you will be more engaged and prepared to participate in entire residential treatment program schedule.
Toward the end of the treatment process, you will begin meeting with a case manager. These managers will be your support in life after recovery and will aid you in getting back into the flow of life outside of Klonopin treatment. This includes any questions or concerns you may have about possible employment, housing, and education.
It is important to remember that case managers will do anything in their power to make sure all of your needs and requests are accounted for. Putting your outside life aside is no easy task, but we understand that it is necessary. That being said, case managers and the staff as a whole will help you take care of anything relating to your outside life.
Helping a Friend or Loved One
Treatment centers should always be the No. 1 choice of action for anyone struggling with addiction and addiction recovery. You may have helped your friend or loved one seek help from a center, but what about the time they are not spending in recovery? Your responsibility as a good friend or family member is to provide a positive environment at all times while supporting and providing feedback to aid in their recovery.
While your loved one battles with Klonopin addiction, being a supportive individual is just as important as withdrawal medication. If the person going through recovery is part of an outpatient program and only visits the recovery center a few times a week, make them feel welcome when they get back home. Let them know how proud you are and how great the treatment process seems to be working.
If the person going through recovery is part of an inpatient program and stays on site at the recovery center, a phone call can be the difference between relapse and recovery. A simple “How are you doing?” can turn the tides in even the toughest situations.
Sometimes one of the most difficult and sensitive things is how to talk to someone going through recovery about their past (or current) addiction. Using personal pronouns like “we” and “us” creates a bond between you and your loved one. The easiest way to beat addiction is as a team, and your loved one must be made aware of that.
- In 2011, a startling 75,000+ people were admitted to the emergency room due to complications caused by Klonopin.
- In 2015, roughly 446,000 people older than age 12 were current abusers of sedatives
- People age 65+ have a 36% greater risk of serious side effects and withdrawals than those aged 12-34.