Klonopin, the brand name for clonazepam, is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant used in a variety of medical settings. Klonopin is a widely recognized anti-anxiety medication used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, alcohol withdrawal, insomnia, as well as a symptom management medication for seizure disorders.
Klonopin is part of a wider group of substances called benzodiazepines, or "benzos," and as a CNS depressant, has the ability to slow down the brain and nervous system.
Although Klonopin does have a number of legitimate uses, the calming properties of the drug make it very easy for individuals to become dependent on it. Here we look at the question: how long does Klonopin stay in your system?
What is Klonopin?
Drugs in the benzodiazepine family are widely used in the treatment of a number of conditions. Individuals living with severe anxiety disorders often find life overwhelming and exhausting, and medications like Klonopin can give them the ability to lead normal lives. However, the risks are considerable due to the effects of this drug; therefore any prescription should be closely monitored by a medical professional.
Klonopin works by slowing the central nervous system (CNS) through activating and binding to the GABA receptors in the brain. GABA is a neurotransmitter that we naturally produce in real-life stressful situations to counteract the adrenaline running through our bodies. GABA is referred to as an "inhibitory neurotransmitter" as it works by interrupting chemical messages and slowing the stimulation of brain nerve cells.
This results in a slowed heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and calms distressing emotions. Individuals with Bipolar or panic disorder can benefit greatly from these effects if the drug is used correctly. Additionally, people with epilepsy or those who experience seizures could also see symptom improvement using Klonopin.
The calming effects of this sedating drug can increase the risk of abuse, even for people who have originally been prescribed the substance by a genuine healthcare provider.
How is Klonopin Used?
As a Schedule IV drug, and categorized as having"low abuse potential, low risk of dependence and addiction but carries risks," prescriptions should be monitored and only administered under certain conditions. As a person's symptoms progress or improve, the medication should be adjusted and whenever a tolerance arises, they should be weaned off the substance.
As prescribed, Klonopin should be swallowed in tablet form. This is the slowest way for the drug to enter the bloodstream, with peak concentration usually around four hours after ingestion.
The powerful nature of Klonopin, unfortunately, makes it one of the most widely abused benzodiazepines. Although there are not accurate figures on the number of people abusing the substance, in 2011, SAMHSA research suggested that more than 61,000 emergency room admissions were linked to Klonopin.
Klonopin users are likely to find their tolerance builds, resulting in higher doses being used to achieve the same high they once did. For some people, this "high" is achieved through snorting the drug.
Snorting Klonopin causes a much faster onset of symptoms with the peak blood concentration around twenty minutes after use, in contrast to four hours after swallowing a tablet. This is a result of the structure of the nose; the mucous membrane is permeable with a decent blood supply, allowing Klonopin to quickly enter the bloodstream after inhaling through the nostrils.
Unfortunately, developing a Klonopin addiction is fairly common regardless of how the drug was originally used and regardless of the purpose. Over time the presence of the drug can change the brain's structure as it relies on the substance to function.
Some common side effects of Klonopin abuse include the following:
- Slowed cognition
- Loss of coordination
- Low sex drive
- Nausea and vomiting
- Heaviness or numbness in arms and legs
- Slowed reactions
- Problems sleeping
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System?
Among the group of benzodiazepine drugs, Klonopin belongs to the "long-acting" category, alongside diazepam and chlordiazepoxide. These are different from other benzodiazepines which belong to the "short-acting" category, such as triazolam and midazolam. A third category, "intermediary-acting" benzos, includes lorazepam and alprazolam (commonly known by its brand name, Xanax).
Despite these distinctions, benzos work in a similar way, by affecting the way neurotransmitters behave. Depending on what Klonopin is prescribed for and a number of other factors, the dose will vary. The following gives an indicator of dosages:
- Adult Epilepsy – 1mg increasing to 4mg to 8mg over the period of one month
- Child Epilepsy – varies depending on age, increased incrementally over the period of one month
- Adult Muscle Spasms – 1mg increasing to 4mg to 8mg over the period of one month
- Panic Disorder – 1 -2mg every day
Klonopin begins to be broken down in the body immediately after it is taken and transported around the body.
If taken correctly Klonopin reaches peak effectiveness approximately four hours after its taken. Around 90% of the drug will be metabolised by the body in this time.
The effects of this substance at peak concentration in the body include:
- Coordination issues
- Loss of concentration
The effects of this substance can be felt for up to twelve hours after taking the drug, which means that any activities which require high levels of attention such as driving or working machinery should be avoided. The half-life of Klonopin - the time taken for the quantity of a substance's active properties to reduce by half in your body - is approximately thirty to forty hours.
The addictive properties of Klonopin result in many individuals experiencing withdrawal symptoms, even if they are using the drug as a prescription medication. However, due to the considerably long half-life, symptoms of withdrawal may not appear until days after stopping use.
For individuals considering an addiction treatment program, or those who are subject to drug testing, how long Klonopin stays within the system is a common question. To answer this question, we need to understand the half-life of Klonopin’s main ingredient, clonazepam.
Clonazepam has a long half-life. This refers to the length of time it takes for a dose of a drug to halve in the body. The half-life of clonazepam is somewhere between thirty and forty hours. In practical terms, it means after one or two days just 50% of Klonopin will leave the system.
With any substance, regardless if it has a short or very long half-life, it can take approximately five half-lives for it to completely leave your body.
Given that clonazepam has a half-life of around thirty to forty hours, Klonopin is likely to stay in your system for approximately six to nine days after your last dose.
What Drug Tests Detect Klonopin?
Tests detecting the presence of Klonopin can show positive results for between five and thirty days, depending on which test is used. It can be a complex process accurately detecting Klonopin because each benzodiazepine appears differently in tests. Because of this, rather than testing for the presence of the drug itself, the test giver will look for the metabolites of the group of drugs instead.
Unfortunately the accuracy of these tests does vary; usually, labs will take the approach of running alternate tests to confirm any positive results.
The metabolite of Klonopin is called 7-aminoclonazepam (7AC). This metabolite does not necessarily show up in regular drug tests, and therefore, labs must specifically screen for Klonopin or its metabolite.
There are four typical drug tests which can be used to detect Klonopin. They include the following:
- Urine tests
- Hair tests
- Blood tests
- Saliva tests
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your Urine?
A urine test tends to be the most common method for testing benzodiazepines due to the length of time it is detectable and the reliability of the test. Klonopin can be detected in urine longer than in any other bodily fluid or tissue.
Klonopin’s metabolite is detectible in urine for between two and four weeks on average.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your Hair?
The metabolites of Klonopin have been detected in hair samples up to one month after use. However, hair follicle tests are less reliable than other lab tests.
Klonopin’s metabolite is detectible in hair for between three and four weeks on average.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your Blood?
Given the fact Klonopin metabolizes quickly in the body, it means it can be detected quickly in a blood test. Klonopin can remain in your blood system for a number of days, long after the effects have dissipated. The results from blood tests tend to be more varied than other tests but the metabolite of the drug has a half-life of up to four days.
Because of the variability, there is no average detectible window in blood tests.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your Saliva?
Saliva tests are looking for the presence of Klonopin itself, as opposed to the metabolite. This means the window for a positive test is around five to six days.
Addiction Treatment for Benzodiazepines
The first stage of recovery from any prescription drug is detoxification. This is a chance for your body to cleanse itself completely of substances and toxins, allowing you to work through the challenges of your physical dependence. Detox can take anywhere from a couple of days to weeks, depending on how regularly you used the substance, what dosage you used, and if you were combining Klonopin with other drugs.
Benzodiazepines are notoriously difficult to detox from and it's not uncommon for individuals to relapse in the initial days. If you are taking Klonopin and you are ready to access help, seek professional medical advice before going forward.
Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
Klonopin withdrawal impacts everybody differently but it can be a very distressing and uncomfortable process. Detoxing under the guidance of licensed medical professionals is strongly advised so they can care for you and monitor your progress along the way.
It's likely you will taper off Klonopin gently to reduce the intensity of withdrawal. This gives your body time to get used to functioning without the presence of drugs.
Common withdrawal symptoms include the following:
- Tremors and shakes
- Sleep problems
- Vivid dreams and nightmares
- Excessive sweating
- Coordination issues
- Muscle pain
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Fluctuating mood
- Concentration issues
Medical care is crucial at this time, but just as important is psychological support. Following a successful detox, you will begin therapeutic work to tackle the challenges which led to your substance abuse in the first place. If you are living with a co-existing mental health disorder, it's important that you work through this in order to achieve long-term recovery.
Recovery: Cornerstone Approach
At Cornerstone we offer exclusively inpatient treatment services ensuring you have the space and time to fully focus and commit to recovery.
Our New York-based programs are varied in therapeutic style, location, and length of stay. Addiction and mental illness can feel isolating and disempowering; we want your experience with us to be the opposite. That's why our custom-designed programs reflect your specific needs. We can offer you a treatment placement tailored to your recovery needs, goals, and desires.
Get in touch with us today at (800)-233-9999 or contact us here, and take the first step toward your long-term recovery.