Clonazepam, brand name Klonopin, is used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders, but it can be highly addictive.
Clonazepam is a tranquilizer type of benzodiazepine. It is also known by its brand name, Klonopin. This drug is a controlled medication that is often prescribed to treat seizure disorders, panic disorders, and involuntary muscle spasms.
Some of the off-label uses of this medication also include:1
Clonazepam works by increasing the chemical gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain.2 GABA reduces activity in the nervous system. This relaxes muscles and reduces anxiety.
This medication is a long-acting benzodiazepine. It has a half-life of between 30 to 40 hours. This means that it works longer than most other benzodiazepines. It may take longer to feel the initial effect, but it will continue working longer than a short-acting benzodiazepine like Xanax.
Because Klonopin is a controlled substance, to use it legally, a medical provider must prescribe it.
Medications like Klonopin can be habit-forming and addictive. In fact, researchers have found that benzodiazepines, like Klonopin, may make the brain more susceptible to chemicals like dopamine.3 Dopamine is the chemical in your brain that is responsible for pleasurable feelings. Too much dopamine can cause poor impulse control and can lead to addiction. Too little dopamine is linked to depression and psychosis.4
Misusing medications like Klonopin or clonazepam can lead to tolerance, dependence, and finally, addiction.
Tolerance for benzodiazepines can occur in as little as 3 to 6 months of regular use. It has been reported that up to 44% of chronic benzodiazepine users become dependent.5
Some factors that can affect tolerance and dependence are:
Like all medications, clonazepam causes side effects that will vary person to person. Some side effects may resolve after a period of time, but others may be more harmful. It is important to discuss side effects with a medical provider when deciding whether or not the substance is a good fit for you.
These side effects may be temporary, often lasting a few days to weeks. If side effects persist, are bothersome, or become severe, let a medical provider know.
Klonopin is intended for short-term use. The body can develop physical dependance to the drug after a few short weeks. Even if you are taking the medication as directed, you may experience withdrawal symptoms when you stop taking it.
Withdrawal symptoms for Klonopin include:
To avoid experiencing more severe withdrawal symptoms, it may be helpful to slowly decrease, or taper, the dose of the drug. That way the body has time to adjust.
Although benzodiazepine overdose is rarely fatal on its own, there are 3 to 7.9 deaths per 1 million prescriptions of benzodiazepines. Fatal overdose is more likely when benzodiazepines are used in combination with other drugs like opioids and alcohol. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, “in 2021, nearly 14% of overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzodiazepines.”12
Benzodiazepines, alcohol and opioids are all depressants. When used together, they can cause extremely low breathing rates and even stop the breathing.
The cornerstone of any benzodiazepine addiction treatment is maintenance and supportive care. Treatment options for clonazepam dependence and addiction include:
Medically supervised detox: A medically supervised detox can be done in a facility or at home. Often, the safest option is in a facility where they provide 24/7 support. A medical detox includes gradually decreasing the dose of clonazepam. This allows your body to adjust and minimizes the chances of experiencing severe withdrawal.
Psychotherapy: Therapy can help to explore any underlying causes or conditions that contribute to Klonopin misuse. Therapy teaches skills to help cope with triggers.
Support or self-help groups: Self-help and support groups such as 12-step programs can provide a great place to learn from peers who are experiencing similar problems.
Substance use rehab: If you’re finding it difficult to stop using clonazepam, a rehab program may be a good option. Rehab programs are live-in treatment programs that can provide safe and supportive environments while working towards recovery.
Outpatient programs: Like rehab programs, outpatient programs provide support and therapy. The difference between rehab and outpatient is that you will remain at home while attending an outpatient program.
At Essence Health & Wellness, we offer a safe and supportive environment for each person to receive the treatment they need. We offer individualized recovery programs that focus on your needs. We treat a variety of addiction and mental health conditions.
If you, or someone you know, are struggling with clonazepam misuse or addiction, there is hope. At Essence Health & Wellness, we offer:
For more information on how Essence Health & Wellness can support your recovery journey, contact us today at 818.491.7288 or https://essencehc.com/contact-us/.