Klonopin is a prescription medication primarily used to treat seizures. The drug is anticonvulsant and antiepileptic and belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. An estimated 5% of all U.S. adults will have a prescription for benzodiazepines filled each month. Use of benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, tends to increase as people age. While the primary purpose of Klonopin is to treat seizure disorders, the medication is also an effective treatment option for panic attacks and anxiety.
For people with anxiety disorders, antidepressants are sometimes used to manage symptoms, but benzodiazepines like Klonopin can be more effective. The effects of Klonopin can be felt immediately after use, and it does not require users to take the drug for an extended period to obtain the desired therapeutic effects. Although many people find relief from Klonopin and benzodiazepine drugs, these medications do come with a risk of addiction and abuse.
How does Klonopin impact the brain?
Benzodiazepines like Klonopin alter the chemical signals in the brain that induce anxiety and panic attacks even when a person’s distress levels are low. For patients with seizure disorders, Klonopin effectively calms the brain, neurons, and neurotransmitters believed to play a role in seizure activity.
How are people supposed to use Klonopin?
Because medications like Klonopin come with a risk of dependence and addiction, it is highly recommended that users take the medication exactly as directed to mitigate these risk factors. Dosage requirements for Klonopin will vary depending on a person’s medical history, their age, and their response to the treatment. Children who are prescribed Klonopin will have their dosage based on weight specifically.
In most instances, Klonopin is started at a lower dosage to decrease the risk of side effects. Patients should not stop, start, or change the dose of their Klonopin prescription without input from a doctor. Most people will need to take Klonopin two or three times daily to get the desired effect.
Klonopin will reach peak concentration levels within one to four hours after administration, and the speed of absorption will vary from one person to the next. The effects of the drug can last for up to twelve hours. Because the results of the medication last a long time, patients do not need to dose as frequently as other benzodiazepines for anxiety, such as Xanax.
Sudden cessation of Klonopin can be dangerous and painful. Patients can experience a worsening of seizures or anxiety and panic attacks if they stop taking Klonopin, and withdrawal side effects such as shaking, abdominal discomfort, and mood swings can occur. These symptoms are more likely to happen if someone has been using or abusing Klonopin for a long time and at high doses. It’s also possible for users to build a tolerance to the medication, and start using more and more of the medicine to get the intended effect. Without a doctor’s input and consent to increase the dosage, this is considered a misuse of the drug and increases a person’s risk of addiction.
Why do some people abuse Klonopin?
Approximately 2.9 billion prescription drugs are ordered or provided to patients every month in the U.S. While most people use their medications as prescribed and do not become addicted, some people will misuse their prescriptions. Some people will “doctor shop,” obtaining prescriptions for the sole purpose of selling them for a profit on the black market. But most people who abuse prescription medications will steal, purchase, or borrow prescriptions from their family or friends. An estimated 70% of people who abuse medicines like Klonopin obtain the pills from someone in the family.
Anytime someone misuses a prescription drug in a way it was not intended is considered abuse. Taking a prescription that doesn’t belong to that person, increasing their dose without a doctor’s input, or mixing the medication with alcohol or other substances to get “high” is considered a misuse of the drug and is an indicator of addiction. Misusing a prescription, however, does not always mean the person is addicted, but it does increase the chances of addiction. The body can build up a tolerance to Klonopin, and people who have taken the medication as directed for a long time may find themselves not benefitting from the drug at the recommended dose. Without consulting their physician, many users will start taking more of the medication to increase the intended effects. This can also lead to addiction.
How is Klonopin abused?
People addicted to Klonopin will often start out taking larger doses of the pills to get high or increase the effectiveness of the medication. They may also start taking the drug with alcohol, or crushing and snorting the pills to get them to take effect faster. Because Klonopin comes with a risk of addiction and increased tolerance levels, doctors will typically prescribe Klonopin for shorter periods, usually two weeks or less.
People who take Klonopin as prescribed can even build a tolerance to the drug. But for those who abuse the medication, they can build a tolerance very quickly, increasing the likelihood of addiction. Cutting back or quitting the drug when someone has built up a physical tolerance to the substance will result in withdrawal symptoms.
What are the effects of a Klonopin high?
- Relaxed, calm mind and body
- Slurred speech
- Problems with coordination
People who take Klonopin as directed will often experience a mild euphoria the first time they take the medication. Unfortunately, some people will become addicted to this initial feeling that the medication can induce. People with a history of substance abuse issues are at-risk of becoming addicted to this feeling and may start taking larger doses of Klonopin than directed as a way to feel the initial Klonopin-induced euphoria again.
What are the long-term side effects of Klonopin abuse?
Benzodiazepines like Klonopin can cause severe and sometimes permanent damage to the central nervous system. People who abuse the drug will experience a decrease in alertness and slowed bodily functions and movements when high on Klonopin. Other serious side effects of Klonopin abuse include the following:
- Numbness in the extremities
- Impaired thinking and confusion
- Problems forming new memories
- Slowed reactions
- Decreased libido
It is dangerous for people who abuse Klonopin to operate heavy machinery or drive, and abusing the drug can lead to increased accidents and injuries. Also, Klonopin abuse is associated with increases in suicidal thoughts. This can happen even in people who take the medication as directed.
How long does Klonopin stay in someone’s system?
The withdrawal and detox timeline for Klonopin will vary for every person, and someone’s age, their health, metabolic rate, and length of addiction will all factor into the withdrawal and detox timeline. When it comes to benzodiazepines like Klonopin, the withdrawal and detox schedules are broken down into three distinct phases:
- Early Withdrawal
- Acute Withdrawal
- Late or Protracted Withdrawal
Klonopin has a half-life of anywhere between eighteen and fifty hours. In most cases, withdrawal symptoms will not start until about one to three days after the last dose was taken, or when the effects of the medication will stop.
The early withdrawal phase lasts between two to four days and may also include rebound symptoms, such as anxiety and insomnia or increased seizure activity. The acute withdrawal phase will peak within two weeks after cessation, and this is where signs of withdrawal are most intense, including stomach issues, mood swings, drug cravings, and muscle spasms. Protracted withdrawal can last for several more weeks or several months, depending on the severity of someone’s addiction. Sudden cessation and quitting Klonopin without outside medication intervention and support can prolong and worsen the withdrawal and detox timeline.
What can someone do to avoid addiction to Klonopin?
Always take the prescription precisely as intended, and do not mix the drug with alcohol or other substances. If someone feels themselves becoming physically tolerant or dependent on the drug, they must speak to their doctor. A doctor can taper them off the prescription, or replace it with a less addictive medication for anxiety or seizure disorders.
What can be done to help people with an addiction to Klonopin?
Sudden cessation of Klonopin will result in painful and distressing withdrawal symptoms. Attending a medically-assisted detox program allows patients to be put on a safe, tapering off schedule for Klonopin. By weaning patients off the drug, they can avoid severe and long-lasting withdrawal symptoms. After detox is achieved, people with addiction to Klonopin need to receive therapy and counseling for drug abuse. This can help them adequately manage future drug cravings and avoid stressors that may lead to relapse in the future. Although drug addiction is a severe and challenging disorder to treat, people can achieve and maintain initial sobriety, and go on to live a drug-free life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with an addiction to benzodiazepines, the therapists and doctors at Mission Harbor Behavioral Health are here to help. Please contact Mission Harbor today to learn more about your detox and addiction treatment options for Klonopin abuse.
The facilities at Mission Harbor are staffed with trained experts to best assist patients with their mental health issues. We are capable of dealing with any and all cases with a licensed staff, equipment, and approved techniques. Our mission is to help those who want to help themselves, and we support your decision in seeking help.
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