What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a prescription benzodiazepine medication. The National Institute on Drug Abuse says taking drugs like this, even as prescribed by a doctor, can lead to tolerance or substance use disorders.
Klonopin is a Schedule IV controlled substance, meaning it comes with a low potential for abuse or dependence. Most benzodiazepines are in this class.
Klonopin comes in 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg tablets, and 0.125 mg, 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, and 2 mg orally disintegrating wafers.
This medication has several legitimate medical uses. Using Klonopin is generally considered safe and effective as directed. As with most benzodiazepines, most issues arise with misuse.
Key Facts About Klonopin
- Alprazolam (Xanax) and clonazepam (Klonopin) are two of the most common benzodiazepines on the illicit drug market, according to DEA reports.
- Benzodiazepines are Schedule IV substances, meaning they have a 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 to enhance their high or reduce negative symptoms. This practice can significantly increase overdose risks.
Side Effects of Klonopin
The side effects of Klonopin can be unpleasant in the short term and dangerous in the long term. Understanding what they are and why they appear could make you think twice about abusing this drug.
Common Klonopin side effects include drowsiness, dizziness, lack of coordination, and memory problems. But some people develop suicidal thoughts while using Klonopin.
Long-Term Side Effects
People with seizure disorders may take Klonopin for months. But people using the medication for anxiety-related disorders typically use prescriptions for no longer than nine weeks. Longer treatment time frames aren’t proven effective.
The longer you take Klonopin, the more likely it is that you’ll develop tolerance. You’ll need bigger doses to achieve the same effect.
In time, you can become dependent on the drug. You’ll feel sick without it. Some people develop a Klonopin addiction and put the medication at the center of everything they do.
The kidneys process and excrete Klonopin. Some people develop kidney damage after using the drug for long periods.
Side Effects of Klonopin Use
|Short-Term Effects||Long-Term Effects|
|Lack of coordination||Dependence|
|Dizziness||Substance use disorder|
|Memory problems||Higher overdose risk|
|Suicidal thoughts||Kidney damage|
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 a 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 want to improve their quality of life.
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 marijuana.
The DEA says benzodiazepine abuse is frequently associated with adolescents and young adults, although anyone could potentially abuse these drugs.
Klonopin is one of several medications many users don’t necessarily feel drawn to. Instead, it is just one benzodiazepine that tends to be readily available. Many users would just abuse a different benzodiazepine if one were more readily available.
Benzodiazepine abuse seems rare among the general population, with some at an elevated risk of abusing these drugs. The most significant risk associated with benzodiazepine use is having a history of substance use disorder.
The majority of people entering treatment programs for benzodiazepine addiction are male, between the ages of 18 and 34, and white. Of them, almost 13% said benzodiazepines were their primary drug of abuse.
Causes & Risk Factors for Klonopin Addiction
Anyone who uses or abuses Klonopin can develop an addiction to the drug, but common risk factors can increase the chances of problematic drug use. These are a few of the known factors:
Your genes can influence how quickly Klonopin enters your body and makes you feel high. The faster the drug works and the quicker it wears off, the more reinforcing the drug becomes. Your risk could elevate as a result.
Many people sustain a Klonopin addiction with the help of family members and friends. Knowing people with active prescriptions means you can get the drug as often as you’d like to. Access can increase how often you use the drug.
Growing up in a household with drug abuse can increase your risks. Spending time in social situations where drug use is common can also normalize the behavior.
People with a history of substance abuse can become attached to Klonopin quicker than those without this history. A history of anxiety disorders can also mean you get the drug legally from your doctor, spurring the urge to abuse it.
Signs & Symptoms of Klonopin Abuse: What to Look Out For
Some people are open about their Klonopin habits and use the drug in front of family and friends. But sometimes, people hide their addiction. Understanding the signs and symptoms can help you determine when someone you love needs help.
Klonopin is a central nervous system depressant. People who use the drug often seem sedated, sleepy, and uncoordinated. They may stumble and fall periodically. They may also slur their speech when high.
Benzodiazepines can impair short-term memory. People may not remember what they said or did while high, and they may seem mentally slow most of the time. A small subset of people develop suicidal thoughts while using Klonopin and may talk about killing themselves.
People addicted to drugs spend most of their time buying, using, or recovering from their doses. They may seem distracted, irritable, and isolated as the problem deepens.
Comparing Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction
|Slurred speech||Memory trouble||Engaging in drug-seeking behaviors|
|Respiratory issues||Slowed reaction times||Doctor shopping|
|Physical dependence||Confusion||Suicidal thoughts|
|Blurred vision||Slowed mental processing||Poor performance at work or school|
|Weakness or lethargy||Inability to problem solve||Decreased interest in activities that don’t involve drugs|
Combining Klonopin With Other Substances
While some people abuse Klonopin alone, most people combine the drug with other substances. The practice is incredibly dangerous.
These are a few of the drugs people combine with Klonopin:
- Klonopin and marijuana: Both drugs cause drowsiness and a lack of coordination. Combining them can lead to intense sedation and poor decision-making abilities.
- Klonopin and alcohol: Both substances are central nervous system depressants. Combining them can lead to brain cell damage and death.
- Klonopin and opioids: Both prescription medications can cause intense sedation and overdose. Combining them augments the risks.
Can You Overdose on Klonopin?
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration says you can overdose on Klonopin. Some people need help breathing to survive an episode.
Klonopin, especially when mixed with other drugs, can cause slow breathing. The person may not draw in enough air to give brain cells oxygen. If this occurs, the person could die or have brain damage.
Lethal overdoses are commonly associated with mixing Klonopin with other benzodiazepines or opioids.
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. Call 911 and stay with the person until help arrives. Your help could ensure an overdose on Klonopin doesn’t end in tragedy.
Klonopin Withdrawal: Understanding the Dangers
If you have misused Klonopin for a while, do not stop taking it 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.
Severe Klonopin withdrawal can lead to the following symptoms:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sleep disturbances
- Visual, tactile, or auditory hallucinations
- Physical tremors
Treatment Options for Klonopin Addiction
If you think you might have a Klonopin addiction, talk to an addiction treatment professional about the best way to start your recovery. If you have a benzodiazepine use disorder, it’s highly unlikely that you can stop using without help. These methods could be useful:
Supervised Taper: Coming Off Klonopin Safely
Quitting Klonopin abruptly can be life-threatening. A taper is different. Your doctor determines a schedule, allowing you to take a little less of the drug over time. Your brain cells have time to adjust to sobriety. Your risk of life-threatening complications (like seizures) is significantly reduced with this method.
Oftentimes, a doctor may first switch you to a long-acting benzodiazepine before they initiate the tapering schedule.
While some people can work with their doctors on a supervised taper at home, others can’t. If you’re worried about relapse risks, entering a medical detox can help.
With medical detox, you’ll be surrounded by caring staff, away from temptation, while you move through the tapering process. Since detoxing from benzos can be life-threatening, it pays to take withdrawal seriously.
You’ll be sober at the end of detox, but you may not have robust relapse prevention skills. Develop them in rehabilitation programs.
Choose an inpatient rehab program and stay away from home-based triggers. Or choose an outpatient rehab and live at home while you work on your addiction. There are benefits to both forms of rehab, so talk to your treatment team about which option is right for you.
When your rehab program is complete, aftercare can help you stay sober. Attend support group meetings and learn from peers in recovery. Or keep routine appointments with your counselor to find new ways to deal with relapse challenges.
Frequently Asked Questions About Klonopin Addiction & Abuse
We’ve compiled some of the most frequently asked questions about Klonopin.
Yes. Klonopin and all benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants. They increase sleepiness and are sometimes used to treat insomnia.
Klonopin is a long-lasting benzodiazepine that can stay in your system for days.
Yes, Klonopin can cause weight gain.
Ask your doctor. People with seizure disorders may use the medication every day. But if you don’t have a seizure disorder, the drug may not be safe for daily use.
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- Drug scheduling. United States Drug Enforcement Administration. Accessed June 30, 2023.
- Benzodiazepines. U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Published April 2020. Accessed June 30, 2023.
- Benzodiazepines and opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse. Published November 7, 2022. Accessed June 30, 2023.
- Klonopin prescribing information. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Published October 2013. Accessed June 30, 2023.
- Schmitz A. Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review. Ment Health Clin. 2016;6(3):120-126. Published 2016 May 6.
- Substance abuse treatment admissions for abuse of benzodiazepines. Treatment Episode Data Set. Published June 2, 2011. Accessed June 30, 2023.