Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Since the mid-1970s, Klonopin has been used to treat anxiety and seizures, and its success in doing so explains its widespread use. Without a doubt, Klonopin, the brand-name version of the drug clonazepam, has done much good.
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However, the category of medicines to which Klonopin belongs carries a high risk of substance use disorders. Thus, many people have ended up habitually misusing the drug and suffering from the long-term side effects of Klonopin.

If you have been prescribed the drug, you are at risk. Get treatment right away if you suspect that you have developed a Klonopin use disorder.

A Brief History of Klonopin

Clonazepam was developed in the early 1960s, finally being patented in 1964 by the Hoffman La Roche pharmaceutical company. During this time, benzodiazepines such as clonazepam were starting to replace barbiturates as a sedative of choice, chiefly due to their comparatively lower addiction risk. The brand Klonopin became available in 1975 specifically to control epilepsy.

Unfortunately, as with other benzodiazepines, taking Klonopin can be habit-forming, as it was soon discovered that tolerance could be built up with only a few weeks of regular use. However, prescriptions for Klonopin only continued to gradually increase with time as it and other benzodiazepine drugs became used more and more to treat a wider variety of medical conditions.

The wider medical use of Klonopin has opened up opportunities for those that don’t need it to misuse it. Klonopin and other benzodiazepines soon became more and more popular for recreational use as well. While it’s unusual for patients prescribed with Klonopin to develop a use disorder if they take it as prescribed, the risk is always present.

By the 2000s, the misuse of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines started to take the public spotlight as an emerging problem. The National Institute of Drug Abuse reported deaths from benzodiazepines rising by over 400% between 2002 and 2015, causing alarm in their widespread misuse.

Among benzodiazepines, it’s an understatement that Klonopin in particular is now viewed as problematic. In 2011, an analysis of emergency room visits across participating hospitals found that 61,000 individuals visited the ER for non-medical clonazepam or Klonopin use. Both the federal government and individual states have since started to introduce more and more controls on Klonopin to curb its misuse. 

What Are the Medical Applications of Klonopin?

Klonopin is chiefly used to control anxiety symptoms, especially in individuals with panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, and other similar issues. In addition, it is sometimes prescribed for sleep disorders as well as for controlling panic attacks. It is also occasionally used as a muscle relaxant and for controlling epileptic seizures.

Because Klonopin tolerance develops quickly and has fair addiction potential, it is often prescribed as an “emergency” medication rather than a daily maintenance drug. However, they may be prescribed as such for the long-term control of serious anxiety-related disorders.

The use of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are widely prescribed for the treatment of the following conditions:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder
  • Social anxiety disorder
  • Panic disorder
  • Avoidant personality disorder
  • Muscle spasms
  • Epileptic seizures
  • Alcohol withdrawal
  • Sleep disorders
  • Pre-surgical anxiety
  • Parasomnia
  • Sleeping pill withdrawal
  • Mania
  • Discomfort from electroconvulsive therapy
  • Bruxism/tooth grinding

How Is Klonopin Used?

Klonopin is intended to be taken orally in specific doses, usually if the user is experiencing a panic attack or epileptic attack. When used to control generalized anxiety disorder and similar conditions, it is usually taken at bedtime or when the user is not expected to be driving or using heavy machinery. When prescribed for daily use, the physician may recommend a smaller dose that can control symptoms but does not seriously impede a patient’s ability to work.

Regular intake of Klonopin and other benzodiazepines can lead to tolerance fairly quickly, so doctors need to reassess the patient fairly regularly to prevent misuse or to prescribe alternative medication if needed.

People who misuse Klonopin may take a larger than recommended dose, or combine it with alcohol for a powerful synergistic effect. It is also sometimes snorted, smoked, injected intravenously, or combined with other drugs to produce a more intense rush, a faster onset, or more unpredictable effects. 

Klonopin’s Immediate Effects

In the short term, those who take Klonopin will experience both physical and mental relaxation. When they speak with a counselor, those who are on Klonopin generally report reduced anxiety and no more racing thoughts. They also find it easier to relax, and they experience fewer seizures. Short-term Klonopin medication side effects also include a feeling of euphoria. People can quickly become dependent on the drug because of these short-term side effects, but it’s worth noting that not all immediate effects of Klonopin are enjoyable. Klonopin can also cause drowsiness, which can put individuals on the drug in danger if they are driving or operating large machines.

To sum up, the short-term side effects of moderate doses of Klonopin may include:

  • Slurred speech/stuttering
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of libido
  • Depression
  • Fatigue
  • Migraines
  • Euphoria
  • Memory loss
  • Detachment
  • Vertigo
  • Confusion
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting

Higher doses can also cause the following immediate effects:

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  • Lost episodes
  • Loss of social “filters”
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Mood swings
  • Labored breathing
  • Coma 

Klonopin’s Long-Term Effects

But what are the side effects of Klonopin that prompt people to enroll in one of our traditional or alternative rehab programs? Many people on Klonopin report entering into episodes of depression after beginning the program. Others who are in recovery treatment for Klonopin use disorders report that the drug makes it hard for them to remember certain facts and events. Paranoia is not uncommon, either, and some individuals experience heightened aggression.

If you are experiencing such effects, the chances are good that you have developed a substance use disorder and should consider pursuing individualized treatment. Seeking treatment early makes recovery easier and increases the chance of successful outcomes.

Here are some of the most common side effects of Klonopin misuse as well as of long-term use:

  • Klonopin use disorder/benzodiazepine use disorder
  • Constant fatigue
  • Constant sleepiness
  • Aggressive behavior
  • Persistent nausea
  • Persistent headaches
  • Personality change
  • Panic attacks
  • Weight gain
  • Depression
  • Paranoia

If you or someone you know is experiencing these effects from the long-term use of Klonopin, contact a treatment center or qualified specialist immediately. Klonopin withdrawal symptoms can be fatal, which means close supervision of individuals with Klonopin use disorders is recommended so that they can receive prompt medical intervention.

How Are Klonopin Use Disorders Treated?

Individuals with a suspected substance use disorder will undergo examination by a qualified psychiatrist for confirmation of their condition as well as to find any other underlying psychiatric disorders.

Going to a rehab center is recommended in severe cases of Klonopin use disorder, particularly if the patient is already starting to exhibit serious withdrawal symptoms, which can be a sign that the use disorder is already severe. Milder cases may be treated on an outpatient basis.

The treatment of Klonopin use disorders is very similar to the treatment of alcohol use disorders (AUD), and both are often compared to each other as a result. Both Klonopin and alcohol are “downers” that rapidly cause tolerance in users. The withdrawal symptoms of both are reported to be similar. In both long-term Klonopin alcohol users, there is a significant risk of death if an individual stopped “cold turkey”. This necessitates a properly managed withdrawal in both cases.

Long-term Klonopin users will often be prescribed progressively lower doses of benzodiazepines, up until a point that they can safely stop. After some time their bodies will then expel all traces of clonazepam and other benzodiazepine class drugs from their body. Patients have to be monitored closely throughout this process, as improper withdrawal from Klonopin can lead to death.

In almost all cases, individuals with Klonopin use disorders will undergo counseling to address the root causes of their drug misuse. Additionally, behavioral therapy may be recommended to help individuals to address the psychiatric causes of drug-seeking behavior.

It’s worth noting that while most rehab centers offer counseling and therapy, they do not offer the same programs nor the same emphasis on each form of treatment. Some may emphasize some forms of treatment such as 12-step programs or behavioral therapy while excluding others. Other rehab centers and programs may also offer alternative or supplemental therapies such as art, yoga, or motivational therapy.

Every case of Klonopin use disorder is unique and some individuals respond better to certain treatments or treatment combinations than others. Make sure to check with your attending clinician to find out which programs are right for you.

Get the Help You Need

BetterAddictionCare represents programs that have a proven history of providing safe and comfortable treatment for individuals who are suffering from the long-term side effects of Klonopin. We can work with your private insurance to get you the cost-effective care that you need, and our client service team is adept at matching you to a quality treatment facility near you. It is not difficult to get started on treatment to deal with the long-term effects of Klonopin: Fill out our contact form or call us today.

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