Klonopin Addiction: Everything You Should Know About Benzodiazepine Abuse
Klonopin abuse and addiction are a growing problem in America. People seek the drug to get relief from stress and anxiety. But the substance is addictive. This can cause a series of health, financial, and interpersonal problems.
This article covers all the facts you need to know about Clonazepam. We’ll give a brief history of the drug. We’ll also cover how it’s used and other important facts. Then we’ll go over how the drug is abused. That’s followed by more information on addiction and treatment options. Use the information in this post to get help for yourself or someone you love. No one should have to suffer through any addiction.
Table of Contents
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin, or Clonazepam, is an anti-anxiety medication. It belongs to a family of drugs called benzodiazepines. These drugs have been around for a long time. They’re fairly popular with doctors. This is because they’re very good at what they do. But sometimes they work too well. This can lead to dependence and addiction.
Clonazepam was patented in 1964. The motivation to create the drug was simple. Barbiturates were the main option for sedative drugs until the 1950’s. However, these drugs are very dangerous. They are easy to accidentally overdose on. They also have a high rate of addiction.
Klonopin was developed to solve these problems. It was initially developed for anxiety and panic disorders. Later, studies showed that it is effective in treating seizures.
Since that time the drug has evolved. It is now available in generic form. It also comes in a wide range of doses.
The drug comes in several forms. The most common is a normal pill. It comes in .5, 1, and 2 mg dosages. But there are also other options. These include pills that dissolve in your mouth. These come in .125, .25, .5, 1, and 2 mg strengths.
Clonazepam has two primary uses. Treating anxiety disorders and seizures. Benzodiazepines, the family of drugs that Klonopin belongs to, are very effective. They act quickly. They also have a high threshold for overdose.
These qualities make the drug an appealing choice for doctors. After all, someone having a panic attack can’t wait an hour for their medication to work. But these same qualities also make the drug dangerous. It’s easy to develop a dependence. It’s also difficult to break an addiction.
It’s also an effective drug for seizures. It helps prevent seizures from happening. This is because the sedative effects make it more difficult for the body to start having a seizure.
The number of prescriptions for Klonopin has been growing. It is the third most common benzo prescribed in America. More than 5 million Americans will take the drug at some point in their life. In 2004 there were just under 12 million prescriptions written for it. By 2015 there were nearly 24 million prescriptions written.
That’s not all. The rate of fatal overdoses involving benzos has quadrupled in the past 20 years. It’s estimated that nearly 2 million people used a drug like Clonazepam non-medically in the past month. 360,000 teens aged 16-17 have used it recreationally.
There are also legal issues for people who take the drug for fun. Possessing it without a prescription can cause misdemeanor and felony charges. This can result in up to 5 years in prison at the state level. At the federal level you can face up to 10 years in jail and a fine of $500,000 - $1 million. Additionally, being on the drug while driving can result in a DUI.
Many people wonder how long Klonopin stays in your system. This is a tricky situation. Most people need professional help to safely stop taking the drug. It usually leaves your system in 3-5 days. But it can take as long as a week. It’s important to note that it can take your body several weeks to get over withdrawal symptoms.
Clonazepam Abuse and Dangers
Like any prescription drug, Klonopin is more dangerous when it’s abused. People that take it according to doctor’s instructions don’t need to worry as much. However, even those people still risk dependence on the drug. That’s why doctors tightly control how much they give patients.
We’ll look at some of the ways that the substance is abused. It’s also important to understand the side effects of the drug. These effects are very dangerous. Understanding them can help prevent you from getting caught up in a cycle of benzodiazepine abuse.
The drug is abused several different ways. The most common way is to simply take it without a prescription. Some people with a prescription take more than they’re supposed to.
However, there are more aggressive ways people abuse Clonazepam. One common strategy is to grind the pill up and snort it. People do this to try and make the drug act faster and stronger. That dramatically increases the risk of dependence and addiction.
Many people also mix the drug with other substances. This is even more dangerous. The most common method is to take the drug with alcohol. That increases the sedative power of the drug and the booze. Others take the drug with other prescription medication. That includes opiates like Vicodin and OxyContin.
However, people also take it with stimulants like cocaine, Adderall, and Ritalin. This is known as speedballing. It is very dangerous. It confuses your body. One drug tries to increase your body functions. The other tries to limit them. This can cause respiratory failure, heart disease, and heart attacks.
Klonopin has several side effects. These can happen even if you’re taking the drug like the doctor said you should. But these side effects get worse when you abuse the drug.
The side effects are both physical and mental. They are similar to alcohol. This is because benzodiazepines are sedatives, just like booze. Also, there are common and uncommon side effects. The most common side effects include:
- Memory problems
- Slurred speech
- Loss of orientation
- Dry mouth
- Blurred vision
- Loss of appetite
- Sleep disturbances
There are also rare side effects. These effects are much worse than the common side effects. However, they don’t happen to as many people. These include
- Lowered inhabitations causing problem behavior
- Low blood pressure
- Decreased lung function
- Enlarged liver
- Extreme anger
- Decreased white blood cells
- Abnormal dreams
- Change in level of sexual interest
- Hair loss
As you can see, that’s a long list of side effects. This shows that the drug isn’t as safe as many people think. It also shows why it’s so important to only take the drug by doctor’s orders. Abusing the drug increases the risk of these side effects. It also increases the intensity of the side effects.
Also, abusing Klonopin by mixing it with other drugs adds more problems. For example, mixing the drug with alcohol or other sedatives increases the chance you’ll overdose. It also increases the chance you’ll have problems breathing. Alcohol also makes it hard to form memories. Combining the two is a recipe for permanent confusion.
Clonazepam addiction is a tricky beast. On one hand, the drug leaves your body fairly quickly. However, it has intense physical and psychological effects. This makes it hard to break the addiction.
It’s important to remember why people take the drug. Most people use it to escape from stress and worry. The drug is very effective at that. This means that people become used to using the drug whenever they’re anxious. As a result, many people become addicted. They feel like they can’t cope with stress and worry without it.
The body also gets used to having the drug. This leads to a physical dependence. In fact, the physical withdrawal symptoms are one of the reasons it’s so hard to recover.
Klonopin withdrawal is similar to other types of benzo withdrawal. Some of the withdrawal symptoms last for years. All of them are very serious. Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Panic attacks
- Sleep disturbances
- Problems concentrating
- Problems thinking
- Memory issues
- Suicidal thoughts
These symptoms get worse the longer someone uses benzos. They also get worse when someone takes higher and higher doses. Also, combining benzos with alcohol or other drugs make these issues worse.
Another issue is that benzo addiction needs to be dealt with slowly. The safest strategy is to taper down the amount of clonazepam you take. Going “cold turkey” and stopping all at once is very dangerous. It makes the worst withdrawal symptoms more likely.
There are two to three phases of benzo withdrawal. The first stage is initial withdrawal. It generally lasts 1 – 4 days. Most people experience anxiety and insomnia. The second phase is acute benzodiazepine withdrawal. It can last from five days to two weeks. It involves worsened anxiety and panic attacks. People also have mood swings, paranoia, and insomnia. Some people experience nightmares, delusions, aggression, and suicidal thoughts.
The second phase of withdrawal is also the most dangerous. Another symptom in this phase is convulsions. These can be fatal. There are also cases where people have died from catatonia during this period. These are reasons why it’s important to get clean in a medically supervised environment.
The final phase doesn’t happen to everyone. It’s called extended benzodiazepine withdrawal. It includes persistent anxiety, problems thinking, depression, and an increased risk of suicide. People are more likely to deal with this phase if they’ve taken the drug for a long time. It’s also more likely in people that take higher doses of the drug.
Treatment and Recovery for Clonazepam Addiction
Klonopin addiction needs to be handled carefully. The withdrawal symptoms are terrible. They’re also dangerous. The best path to recovery involves a combination of tapering down the dose and therapy.
The first step in any recovery is to stop taking the drug. This needs to happen gradually with benzos. This phase is known as detox. The goal of detox is to get toxic substances out of your system. Additionally, benzo detox needs to be medically supervised. The drug causes changes in the brain and body. Trying to detox by yourself can be fatal.
Detox plays several important roles in recovery. First, it lets your body get used to not having drugs anymore. Additionally, it helps you get to a mental state where therapy is more effective. A sober mind is better at being honest with itself. That’s a vital part of therapy working. Also, the goal of recovery is to get sober. Therefore, it’s best to go through therapy sober. This helps you develop the most effective coping tools. It also helps you figure out the best ways to avoid drugs or alcohol.
Detox is only half of the solution though. After all, there are reasons why someone starts taking drugs. There are also reasons why they become addicted. These need to be addressed if recovery is going to work.
Most people with a Klonopin addiction started taking the drug to escape anxiety. This anxiety comes roaring back during the detox process. It can be debilitating.
Therapy works to undo the damage of the drug. But that’s not all. It also works to provide new skills. One of the most successful options is cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT.
CBT seeks to make you aware of your thoughts. Once you’re aware of your thoughts you can work on how you respond to them. You can recognize what does and doesn’t make you anxious. Also, you can work on reducing the anxiety you feel.
But that’s only part of the CBT process. The therapy also works on how you react to stress and anxiety. CBT helps people develop positive coping strategies. These might include breathing exercises. It also involves other approaches. The most successful methods are tailored to the individual that needs help. After all, what works for one person might not work for others.
Getting Clean and Staying Clean
With all the complications in breaking a Klonopin addiction, it may seem impossible. However, there is hope. Detoxing in a medically supervised environment is an important first step. You can also start therapy once the drug is out of your system.
The combination of detox and therapy offer the best chance for a successful recovery. This combination deals with both the physical and mental issues that come with addiction. Dealing with only one issue increases the odds of a relapse.
Don’t let a Klonopin addiction ruin your life. Use this information to get the help you need. You can also share it with a friend if you think they have a problem. No one needs to live with an addiction. Take the first step on the path to a better tomorrow today.