Cornerstone of Southern California Drug and Alcohol Rehab
Klonopin Addiction and Abuse
Author: Cornerstone of Southern California
Published: September 8, 2022
Klonopin Addiction and Abuse

What is Klonopin

Klonopin is a brand name for the benzodiazepine drug clonazepam. It is FDA-approved for the treatment of acute panic disorder and certain seizure disorders. As benzodiazepine drugs go, Kloponin is a particularly high potency and is a long-acting benzodiazepine. This means it stays longer in the system than other benzodiazepines, increasing the duration of its effects. It is also metabolized and processed more slowly by the body and takes longer to eliminate.

Klonopin acts to reduce anxiety and has anticonvulsant effects. As a controlled substance, Klonopin has the potential to be abused. It is a Schedule IV drug, which means it is considered less addictive than many other drugs, particularly illegal ones. However, the risk of abusing Klonopin remains real, especially if a person takes it without following their exact medically prescribed doses.

Effects of Klonopin

Klonopin acts as a central nervous system depressant; that is, it slows down nervous system activity, and certain other processes in the mind and body, resulting in a mildly sedative effect.

Normal, therapeutic effects include:

  • Reduced worry
  • Easing of tension in the body
  • Slowed, relaxed breathing
  • Slowed heart rate, lower blood pressure

As with all addictive substances, it is seeking the soothing, pleasant effects of Klonopin more frequently or more intensely that can lead a person to addiction.

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How Addictive is Klonopin?

Medical professionals consider Klonopin less addictive than many of the so-called 'hard drugs' such as crack cocaine, where a single use may set an addiction in motion. However, as a Schedule IV drug, developing a Klonopin addiction is a genuine risk. Every year, it is estimated that several million Americans misuse benzodiazepines. Klonopin is a particularly powerful one, and any drug with intense effects is more likely to lead to substance abuse than a softer one.

Benzodiazepine addiction can begin even when medications such as Klonopin are taken as recommended by a doctor. Klonopin use raises levels of Gamma Amino Butyric Acid, or GABA for short, a neurotransmitter in the central nervous system. GABA limits the excitability of neurons in the brain, and this has a powerful calming effect. A person will experience a sense of well-being and freedom from mental tension. If someone begins to crave these pleasurable effects of Klonopin on a regular basis, they may get addicted to Klonopin.

As with all substance use disorders, a Klonopin addiction is very hard to overcome without some kind of addiction treatment. Seeking the advice, in the early stages, of a certified addiction professional, may help prevent a person's Klonopin use habits from escalating into full-blown drug abuse.

Risk Factors

It is a sad fact that some people can get either physically or psychologically hooked on Klonopin even when taking it under medical supervision. Klonopin is designed to be taken only short-term, and only to treat severe panic attacks or seizures as and when they occur. It is not intended as regular medication to help manage panic disorders, epilepsy, or other conditions, nor as a go-to medication to treat anxiety or depression. Risk factors that increase the likelihood of addiction to Klonopin include:

  • Taking larger or more frequent doses of the drug
  • Using Klonopin for longer than the recommended duration
  • Combining Klonopin use with that of other medications
  • Pre-existing mental illness: insomnia, anxiety, and depression can all be alleviated as a side-effect of Klonopin prescription for other conditions. A person may feel encouraged to self-medicate using the drug.
  • Personal history of previous drug addiction.

Klonopin Addiction Symptoms

When a person abuses Klonopin to the point of addiction, there will be telltale physical, emotional, and behavioral signs. The most common Klonopin addiction symptoms include:

  • experiencing strong cravings for Klonopin
  • becoming tolerant to the drug: needing larger doses to achieve the desired tranquilizing effect
  • taking Klonopin even though it may cause a dangerous situation, such as driving with the risk of Klonopin-induced dizziness or drowsiness
  • doctor shopping: since Klonopin, clonazepam by its generic name, is only available by prescription, a person may try and see multiple doctors in order to be prescribed more of the drug
  • continued Klonopin use in spite of negative consequences, such as stress related to obtaining it, financial pressure, hiding the habit from family members, and so on
  • Being unable to quit despite a sincere desire to do so
  • Becoming more isolated, losing interest in social life or previously enjoyable activities
  • Failing to meet personal responsibilities or neglecting work duties
  • Physical dependence: a person's body may become so accustomed to Klonopin that they need it to feel normal. Withdrawal symptoms may result if they go without it.

A person should seek professional treatment advice without delay if Klonopin has begun to affect their life in the above ways. These symptoms are not only indicative of likely addiction, but they are also warning signs that a person's use of Klonopin is getting more problematic. The earlier an addiction treatment process is set in motion, the quicker they can address their substance use issues.

A major danger of any addiction is overdose, and Klonopin is no exception. Klonopin overdose is more likely for an individual if they take it together with other medications, or while drinking alcohol. These behaviors can enhance the effect of Klonopin, or make a person unaware of how much they are taking.

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

Because Klonopin is a long-acting benzo, it remains in a person's system for a relatively long time. This means that its effects are felt for a longer duration, and wear off more gently. Klonopin withdrawal symptoms are therefore typically less intense than those of other benzodiazepines, with effects that end abruptly when they are eliminated from the body.

Studies suggest that anybody taking Klonopin for a duration of four weeks or more is likely to experience withdrawal symptoms. However, they may not recognize these at once for what they are, since flu or stomach bugs can produce the same effects. Common symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal include:

  • anxiety, agitation
  • restlessness, insomnia
  • irritability
  • difficulty concentrating, poor memory
  • depression
  • muscle tension and aches
  • gastrointestinal issues.

Treatment providers generally suggest a medical detox to help someone taper off their use of Klonopin and avoid intense withdrawal.

Klonopin Addiction Treatment

Addiction treatment for full-blown Klonopin addiction is a rehab program in a treatment center. Treatment programs generally include a medically supervised detox program to start the treatment process. Any residential treatment facility will offer comprehensive treatment plans to address all aspects of a person's addiction. This will include behavioral therapy and psychological support, and take into account a person's history and any personal issues they may be struggling with.

Regardless of whether a person's use stems from prescription use of Klonopin, recreational use, or self-medication, the aim of a medical provider will be to help them achieve total abstinence from benzodiazepine abuse.

Common Questions about Klonopin

Since Klonopin is such a powerful benzodiazepine, it is normal for there to be concerns around its use. Frequently asked questions often revolve around how safe it is.

Can Klonopin Be Used Long-term for Anxiety?

No. Due to its habit-forming nature, medical professionals do not prescribe Klonopin for the long-term treatment of any conditions. In fact, in some cases, a medical provider may only authorize prescriptions for one to two weeks at a time. Generally, the maximum uninterrupted duration does not exceed four weeks. Klonopin is used for acute symptoms of the conditions it treats - severe bouts of panic attacks, or as an immediate response to a seizure.

Other prescription medications exist to treat long-term anxiety and are both effective and perfectly safe when taken in compliance with a doctor's prescription.

Can Klonopin Damage your Brain?

In an individual with no pre-existing conditions that could make taking Klonopin dangerous for them, the medication presents no risks to brain health. There is currently no general consensus on whether or not Klonopin can cause damage to the brain if taken for longer periods. However, it appears that excessive use of Klonopin may lead to cognitive impairment, which may persist for some weeks after Klonopin use is discontinued. There is as yet no definitive proof that Klonopin can cause permanent brain damage.

What Happens If You Take Clonazepam Every Day?

Klonopin, clonazepam by its pharmaceutical name, can be given daily, at regular times or as prescribed. If a daily dose, or doses, are the doctor's instructions, then following these and taking it daily should lead to the desired therapeutic outcome.

Taking clonazepam every day only becomes problematic when used for longer than prescribed. If this happens, a person risks developing a tolerance to Klonopin. They no longer feel the effects so strongly and need to take more for it to be as effective as it initially was. Benzodiazepine tolerance forms quickly, and can rapidly lead to dependence on the drug. Physically, emotionally, or both, a person becomes reliant on the drug to function normally. This can easily lead to addiction.

Though perfectly legal and having valuable medical uses, Klonopin, like all benzodiazepines, can be highly habit-forming. It is an unfortunate reality that in some people, Klonopin addiction can creep up on them unawares. What starts out as a legitimate prescription, can sow the seeds for a Klonopin abuse habit, and then addiction.

Benzodiazepines can hold people in a tight grip, and recovering from addiction to them unaided is highly challenging. Fortunately, you don't have to do it alone. At Cornerstone, we specialize in treating every kind of addiction and substance abuse issue, and have a team of compassionate, expert professionals to support your recovery. Reach out today to find out how we can help.