When benzodiazepines appeared on the scene, this sedative-hypnotic drug class was considered a safer alternative to barbiturates, a sedative first introduced in 1900. Valium, the first benzodiazepine on the market, was introduced in 1963, and by 1977, it was the world’s most prescribed drug.
Alas, while benzodiazepines are not quite as dangerous as barbiturates, mostly because with benzodiazepines the correct dosage is easier to identify and that reduces the danger of overdose, these drugs are highly addictive substances that are prone to abuse. Klonopin is just one of the drugs in the benzodiazepine class. Others in this group include Valium, Ativan, Xanax, and Librium, and Dalmane.
What is Klonopin?
As with other benzodiazepines, Klonopin (clonazepam) works by depressing the central nervous system. Clinically, it’s used for the treatment of epilepsy, seizures, convulsions, and panic disorder. Klonopin binds to the GABA receptors in the brain, swiftly inducing feelings of calm and relaxation by slowing down heart rate, reducing blood pressure, and calming emotional disturbance.
As with all benzodiazepines, Klonopin has a high potential for addiction. Over time, brain structures become altered as the body compensates for the daily presence of Klonopin. This can result in addiction or chemical dependency, both physical and psychological.
Some of the adverse effects of Klonopin include:
- Slowed cognitive and motor skills
- Mental confusion
- Impaired judgement
- Clumsiness or impaired coordination
- Memory problems
- Reduced sexual libido
- Heaviness or numbness in arms and legs
- Slowed reaction time
- Oversleeping (hyposomnia)
Recreational use of Klonopin often includes other substances, such as opioids or alcohol, increasing the risk for overdose. In fact, the government’s DAWN report stated that over 61,000 emergency room visits in 2011 were attributed to Klonopin, and another 25,000 were cases where Klonopin was combined with alcohol.
Klonopin addiction can develop slowly. Often the person is not aware that they have developed an addiction until warning signs are very concerning. Continue reading to learn about the signs and symptoms of a Klonopin use disorder.
Signs of Klonopin Addiction
Klonopin can be used safely when the patient uses it only as prescribed. However, patients must be careful if they are predisposed to substance use disorders through genetics or other risk factors. These individuals may be more susceptible to developing a Klonopin use disorder. As tolerance increases, there is a risk that the patient begins taking higher doses than what is prescribed in an effort to achieve the sedating effects.
Signs of Klonopin addiction include:
- Racing heart rate (tachycardia)
- Numbness in extremities
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Increased salivation
- Rashes or hives
- Difficulty breathing
- “Doctor-shopping” for more refills
- Using Klonopin for non-medical reasons
- Withdrawing from family and friends
- Loss of interest in usual activities
- Obsessive drug-seeking
- Increased agitation
- Preoccupied with using Klonopin, even with the negative consequences
- Klonopin cravings
- Auditory hallucinations
- Mental confusion
- Short-term memory loss
- Change in personality
- Suicidal thoughts
If you or a loved one recognizes the signs of a Klonopin addiction, know that treatment is available to help you overcome it. The first step of recovery is withdrawal management.
Klonopin Withdrawal Management
As with all benzodiazepines, Klonopin withdrawal must be very carefully managed and monitored. This requires the support of a medically trained detox team that will guide you through a tapering schedule. This allows the brain and central nervous system to gradually stabilize as the Klonopin level is slowly reduced in your system. This allows the body to stabilize gradually, which helps to minimize symptoms.
Some withdrawal symptoms may include:
- Anger or hostility
- Impaired coordination
- Muscle and joint pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- Mood swings
- Difficulty concentrating
Throughout the Klonopin detox and withdrawal process, the support team will provide medical interventions to assist in relieving discomfort. Psychological support is also provided to support and to help you successfully complete this first phase of recovery.
Following Klonopin withdrawal management, you will embark on the treatment phase of recovery. A comprehensive treatment program is essential to help you overcome the Klonopin addiction cycle and to reclaim control over your life.