The abuse and addiction potential of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines is generally considered low, although people who have a history of issues with drugs are at greater risk.
Key Facts About Klonopin Addiction
- Alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin) are two of the most common benzodiazepines on the illicit drug market, according to DEA reports.
- Benzodiazepines are considered Schedule IV substances, meaning they are considered to have low potential for abuse and a low risk of dependence, although the merit of this classification is debatable.
- Benzodiazepines are commonly involved in polydrug use, where a person uses multiple types of drugs in an attempt to enhance their high or reduce negative symptoms, a practice that can significantly increase the risk of an overdose.
What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a brand name for the benzodiazepine drug clonazepam. It comes in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets, and in 0.125 mg, 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg orally disintegrating wafers.
This medication has several legitimate medical uses. It is generally considered a safe and effective medication when used as directed. As with most benzodiazepines, the majority of issues tend to arise if a person begins to misuse it.
Why Is Klonopin Addictive?
Benzodiazepines act on a neurotransmitter in the brain called GABA-A, enhancing the effects of this neurotransmitter and having a sort of hypnotic sedative effect. When used in significant doses or for a long time, these drugs can cause a person to develop physical dependence, meaning their body adjusts to their drug use and begins to react poorly to sobriety, with a person experiencing withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking it.
A person can also develop psychological dependence on these drugs, feeling they need to use them to function even when the way they are using them is destructive and unhealthy. They may feel a compulsion to use benzodiazepines despite the consequences. Because of this, they may have trouble stopping their drug abuse even if they logically know they need to if they want to improve their quality of life.
What Is Klonopin Normally Used For?
Used as intended, Klonopin can help with the following issues:
- Panic disorders
- Muscle spasms
- Alcohol withdrawal
As with any prescription medication, it should only be used as a prescribed treatment given to you by a doctor. If you feel the current dose of Klonopin you’re on isn’t helping, never adjust your dose yourself. Instead, talk to your doctor about how your medication isn’t working and ask what might help get the effect you need.
How Is Klonopin Abused?
Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are generally taken orally or crushed up and snorted. They may be taken with other drugs, especially opioids and/or cocaine. The DEA claims benzodiazepine abuse is frequently associated with adolescents and young adults, although anyone could potentially abuse these drugs.
Klonopin is one of several medications that many users don’t necessarily feel drawn to specifically. Instead, it is just one benzodiazepine that tends to be readily available. Many users would just abuse a different benzodiazepine if one was more readily available.
Benzodiazepine abuse seems rare among the general population, with a subset of people at an elevated risk of abusing these drugs. The most significant risk associated with benzodiazepine use is having a history of a substance use disorder.
Signs & Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction
Some potential signs a person may struggle with a Klonopin addiction include the following:
- An inability to stop or reduce your use of Klonopin or other benzodiazepines, especially if you’ve already tried to do so
- Feeling like you cannot function without using Klonopin or other benzodiazepines
- An increased tolerance to benzodiazepines, requiring taking more to achieve the same effect
- Withdrawal symptoms (described more below) when you stop taking benzodiazepines or reduce the amount you’re taking
Acute Klonopin withdrawal, and acute withdrawal from benzodiazepines in general, is associated with the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations
- Physical tremors
Prolonged Klonopin use is generally associated with more intense withdrawal symptoms, as is abusing it rather than using it as prescribed. Even a person who has only taken their medication as prescribed may experience withdrawal if they stop taking their medication suddenly. However, doctors are aware of this risk and can help you avoid or at least reduce withdrawal symptoms if you want to stop taking your medication.
If you have been misusing benzodiazepines for a while, do not stop taking them suddenly. Doing so could trigger severe withdrawal symptoms that could even be life-threatening. Talk to a doctor or addiction treatment professional about how to safely taper your use of these drugs.
Can You Overdose on Klonopin?
Heavy use of Klonopin or other benzodiazepines can cause overdose symptoms, including these:
- Extreme drowsiness
- Impaired coordination
- Decreased reflexes
- Respiratory depression
Klonopin, especially when mixed with other drugs that may enhance certain effects, can cause a person’s breathing to weaken to dangerous levels. This can be so severe that the person may no longer be able to physically draw in enough air to provide their brain with the oxygen it needs. If this occurs, a person may go comatose and could develop permanent brain damage or even die.
Lethal overdoses are most commonly associated with mixing Klonopin with benzodiazepines and/or opioids. Regardless, if a person is unresponsive, very confused, falling in and out of consciousness, has clammy skin, bluing of their lips and fingertips, or otherwise is showing worrying symptoms, treat it as a medical emergency, even if you’re not sure how severe their overdose may be. The sooner they can get help, the more likely it is that permanent damage can be avoided.
Treatment Options for Benzodiazepine Addiction
If you think you might have a Klonopin addiction, talk to an addiction treatment professional about the best way to start your recovery. There are some strategies they can employ to start managing your benzodiazepine misuse and dependence. If you are addicted, it’s highly unlikely that you can stop use without help.
Professionals may recommend gradual benzodiazepine withdrawal or a maintenance treatment. In some cases, you may be prescribed a long-acting benzodiazepine to replace your Klonopin use, which can help to reduce the risk of serious withdrawal symptoms without causing significant cravings. From there, they can gradually reduce your dose rather than stopping it all at once, which can make stopping use much easier.
Your doctor will also likely recommend therapy to help you better identify why you abuse drugs and learn to resist such use in the future. This type of care is important to promote long-term recovery. You’ll develop coping mechanisms you can use when you are tempted to relapse in the future, and you’ll build a strong support network you can turn to when times get tough.
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- A Case Report of Clonazepam Dependence. (March 2016). Medicine.