Just because your doctor prescribes a medication, it does not mean it is entirely safe. On the contrary, people often have a false sense of security when using prescription medications, which is what can lead to abuse and even overdose.
However, an overdose isn’t what comes to people’s minds when they take prescription drugs. Instead, they are likely attempting to search for a reprieve for their fitful nights of sleep. This is where Klonopin comes in. This seemingly innocuous drug has been used as a sleep agent for decades, and it has worked, to a point.
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Soon, you won’t be able to sleep without it, and then Klonopin addiction develops.
It does not help that benzodiazepines such as Klonopin are heavily prescribed. Between 1996 and 2013, the number of people who filled a benzodiazepine prescription jumped from 8.1 million to 13.5 million, which equates to a 67 percent increase, according to a report from STAT. In 2016, almost 18.7 million prescriptions for Klonopin were written, says ClinCalc.com.
Addiction to any benzodiazepine like Klonopin is dangerous and should be treated immediately. Here, we’ll explore how Klonopin works and what makes it so addictive as well as how Klonopin-dependent users can seek professional rehab treatment.
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What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam. It is a fast-acting benzodiazepine. It was initially made and approved in 1975 to help people with epilepsy manage seizures. Later, it was used to treat people with panic disorders, schizophrenia, tic disorders, restless leg syndrome, and other conditions. It’s currently the second most abused benzodiazepine after Xanax.
Klonopin is available in tablet form (0.5 mg (milligrams), 1 mg, and 2 mg) and as a disintegrating wafer that is taken orally. It can only be legally obtained with a prescription from a physician since it is a Schedule IV controlled substance.
Additionally, clonazepam can be used alone or along with other drugs to treat certain types of seizures: petit mal seizures, akinetic seizures, and myoclonus or Lennox-Gastaut syndrome.
Klonopin actually works as a tranquilizer by blocking certain receptors in the brain to reduce agitation and stress. When used properly, it is a medication prescribed as a short-term treatment. But, many people abuse the drug and take it for longer periods and at higher doses than prescribed. As a result, once a person develops an addiction to Klonopin, their brains can no longer produce feelings of calm and relaxation without the user relying on the drug to achieve these effects
The most frequent adverse effects linked to Klonopin is sedation. Other common side effects include:
- Loss of orientation
- Sleep disturbance
- Lack of inhibition
- Change in sexual desire
- Respiratory depression
- Enlarged liver
- Increased heart rate
- Low blood pressure
- Blood disorders
- Risk of suicide, thoughts of suicide
Research has shown that people in the senior population are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of long-term benzodiazepine use.
While doses are tailored to fit the patient’s needs, the standard dosages are:
- Seizures in adults: The initial dose is 1.5 mg daily in three divided doses.
- Panic disorders: The initial dose is 0.25 mg twice daily. Maximum doses are 20 mg daily.
Clonazepam also has a long elimination half-life of 30 hours to 40 hours, which refers to the time it takes for just half of a single dose of a drug to leave the body. As such, it will take one to two dates for only 50 percent of Klonopin to leave the human body’s system. In recreational drug circles, Klonopin is also known as “benzos,” “Kpin,” “pin,” and “tranks.”
What Are the Signs of Klonopin Addiction?
Klonopin addiction generally begins when users build up a tolerance to the drug, meaning they need larger doses to obtain the same effects they once experienced with smaller doses. Some users then start to take more of the drug than they were prescribed or use it just to get high.
Signs that can indicate whether you or a loved one is addicted to Klonopin include:
- Continued use despite negative consequences
- Being unable to quit despite the desire to do so
- Persistent cravings
- Losing interest in social or professional obligations
- Developing financial or legal issues as a result of Klonopin use
- Sleepiness throughout the day
- Slurred speech
- Acquiring Klonopin illegally and taking it for its euphoric effects
- Doctor shopping to get more drugs
- Mixing Klonopin with other drugs
- Isolating oneself
- Becoming extremely defensive
- Becoming aggressive or violent
Despite the aforementioned symptoms, people don’t necessarily need to display them all to have an addiction. Even if you notice one or two signs in your loved one, and you suspect their drug use is negatively affecting their lives, then that is enough cause for concern.
What Is Involved in Klonopin Addiction Treatment?
Because of the chemical effects of the drug, it’s not surprising that people who have become addicted to Klonopin try to quit “cold turkey.”
They soon find, however, that quitting abruptly leads to sudden, devastating, and often life-threatening symptoms of withdrawal. It’s precisely for this reason that experts urge users in active addiction to seek medical detox at an accredited facility where medical professionals can oversee the withdrawal process.
In most cases, the medical professionals at a detox facility will use a tapering method to wean users off Klonopin during the detox period. This will help curb the withdrawal symptoms and lessen the chance of relapse.
Because the effects of Klonopin withdrawal can last for weeks on end, recovering users must enroll in a residential drug treatment program or another setting that promotes recovery. Many people in recovery have found they were more successful in avoiding relapse if they committed to continuing treatment after detox. In a residential treatment program, you will work with clinical professionals in therapy sessions who can help you get to the root of your addiction. By addressing the thoughts, emotions, and behaviors that led you to abuse Klonopin, you can set the foundation for a successful recovery and a robust relapse prevention plan.
Additionally, you can receive outpatient treatment to help you on your path to long-term sobriety. After your residential program ends, you can return home (or to transition to a sober living facility). Here, the stressors of everyday life may lead you right back into the arms of your Klonopin addiction. To fight this, it is always a good idea to continue treatment in an outpatient program. This way, you can stay connected and be held accountable for your sobriety. Counselors and peers can help you identify the relapse triggers in your life and equip you with the mental tools to overcome them on a day-to-day basis.
How Dangerous Is Klonopin?
Klonopin users will use one or more drugs with Klonopin to enhance the drug’s effects. This common practice is known as polydrug use. The most popular drug cocktails include cocaine and other stimulants to thwart Klonopin’s sedative effects. However, some people do mix it with alcohol to amplify the drug’s calming effects—sometimes just to get a good night’s sleep. Needless to say, combining any drug is dangerous, and can often, unfortunately, lead to overdose and death by slowing down a person’s central nervous system and stopping their breathing.
According to MedlinePlus.gov, common symptoms of Klonopin overdose can include:
Pregnant women are warned not to take Klonopin. Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines have been correlated with fetal damage like congenital malformations, especially when the drugs are taken in the first trimester. It’s important to note that benzodiazepines are secreted in breast milk as well.
Klonopin Abuse Statistics
- In 2011 alone, more than 175,000 people were admitted to an emergency department for benzodiazepines like Klonopin alone or in combination with opioids or alcohol, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).
- About one-fourth of all Klonopin tablets used recreationally are acquired illegally and not from doctors.
- In 2013, benzodiazepines caused 30% of all deaths from a prescription drug overdose.
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Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). (n.d.). Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from from https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling
Lembke, A. (2018, February 22). Benzodiazepines: Our other prescription drug epidemic. Retrieved from from https://www.statnews.com/2018/02/22/benzodiazepines-drug-epidemic/
McAndrews, M. P., Weiss, R. T., Sandor, P., Taylor, A., Carlen, P. L., & Shapiro, C. M. (2002, December 11). Cognitive effects of long‐term benzodiazepine use in older adults - Pat McAndrews - 2003 - Human Psychopharmacology: Clinical and Experimental - Wiley Online Library. Retrieved from from https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/hup.453
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Storrs, C. (2016, February 18). Benzodiazepine overdose deaths soared in recent years, study finds. Retrieved from from https://www.cnn.com/2016/02/18/health/benzodiazepine-sedative-overdose-death-increase/index.html
The DAWN Report: Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes [PDF File]. (n.d.). Rockville, MD: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality. Date retrieved: July 19, 2019. from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014.pdf