Klonopin is the brand name for a prescription medicine generically called clonazepam. It is classified as a benzodiazepine, which is a drug used for anxiety, panic attacks, restless leg syndrome, or for alcohol withdrawal. It is commonly called a benzo.
Clonazepam was approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), in 1975, under the brand name Klonopin, for a pharmaceutical company. It is now made by several other drug companies, in generic form, which use different colors to distinguish their pill from the others.
Benzos are a class of drugs that depress the central nervous system (CNS). They are federally listed as a Class IV drug. This is defined as a drug with a low potential for abuse compared to other drugs such as opioids. However, benzos can cause addiction if they are taken for a long time, misused or abused for purposes other than intended.
Klonopin is one of the most five prescribed benzos today. There were 29.2 million prescriptions for it as of July 2019. A national survey found that nearly 30 million people used a benzo in 2015.
How Does Klonopin Work?
Everyday Health writes that, “gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA, is a neurotransmitter that sends chemical messages through the brain and the nervous system, and is involved in regulating communication between brain cells. The role of GABA is to inhibit or reduce the activity of neurons or nerve cells.”
GABA plays an important role in behavior, cognition, and the body’s response to stress. Research suggests that GABA helps to control fear and anxiety when neurons become overexcited.
Lower-than-normal levels of GABA in the brain have been linked to schizophrenia, depression, anxiety, and sleep disorders. GABA receptors receive chemical messages that help to decrease nerve impulses. Benzos, such as Klonopin, bind to the same receptors and copy the calming effects of GABA.
Klonopin is quickly absorbed and begins to work in one to four hours after taking. One dose can last for 24 hours, and its half-life of 30 to 40 hours. This means it takes about 30 hours for half of the dose taken to be eliminated from the body.
The side effects of Klonopin are:
- Mood or behavior changes
- Poor or impaired coordination
- More intense panic or anxiety attacks
- Trouble sleeping
- Hostile, aggressive behavior
- Severe drowsiness
- Suicidal ideation
- Pounding heartbeat, fluttering in the chest
- Involuntary eye movements
- Balance problems (mostly with older patients)
- Memory problems
Signs of Benzodiazepine Addiction
If Klonopin is used for an extended time, dependence on the drug could occur. This means your body can’t function normally without it. As time progresses, the signs or symptoms of addiction may be seen. When someone develops a dependence on Klonopin or another benzo, they can expect to feel withdrawal symptoms and possibly seizures if they stop taking it abruptly.
Some of the signs of chronic use and abuse appear the same as the symptoms of benzodiazepines are needed for:
Generally, the signs are taking more of the prescription drug than prescribed, thinking about taking the drug more often and sometimes to the point of distraction, obtaining and taking of the drug become more important than anything else in your life, lying, unexplained and urgent-sounding absences, and difficulty weaning off of the drug.
Anyone taking Klonopin, even those who follow the doctor’s orders precisely, may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop taking it. The severity of the withdrawal symptoms depends on several factors. These include how much Klonopin is taken, how long it has been taken, and if it is mixed with other medications or substances.
Other factors to consider are the age and mental health status of the person taking it.
The recommended way to stop taking Klonopin is to have your doctor slowly taper or wean you off of the drug. The longer the taper goes; the better chance you will have of not experiencing withdrawal symptoms.
People who have been taking Klonopin or another benzo for a long time might find they are addicted to the drug. This is when it is best to consider the full continuum of care for addiction treatment.
What Does Addiction Treatment Involve?
The first step in full continuum of care, for someone with Klonopin or benzo addiction, is medical detoxification. This treatment consists of supervised care by a treatment center’s medical and psychological staff. After graduating through this stage, the client will enter an intensive
Outpatient Treatment (IOP)
IOP consists of a variety of therapy options. These are divided into two categories: evidence-based and alternative therapies. Evidence-based therapy includes widely known programs such as 12-step programs, behavioral types like cognitive behavioral therapy and medicinal therapy.
Alternative therapies may involve art therapy, meditation, yoga, or equine therapy.
Which therapies will work best for the client are determined during the initial assessment, and include input from the client. At Family Recovery Specialists, we listen to what our clients need and want to overcome addiction and provide them the tools to prevent relapsing.
How Dangerous Is a Klonopin/Overdose Possibility?
Klonopin is a benzo, and if it is misused or abused, it can lead to an overdose. One of the primary effects of this drug is drowsiness. If someone takes too much, the possibility of falling into a coma is possible.
It is also taken by children who want to feel the effects of drinking alcohol without drinking it and not get caught.
Klonopin overdose signs and symptoms to look for are:
- Slow reflexes
- Muscle weakness
Klonopin Abuse Statistics
- The number of adults who filled a benzodiazepine prescription increased by 67%, from 8.1 million to 13.5 million, between 1996 and 2013.
- The co-prescribing of benzodiazepines and opioids almost doubled between 2001 and 2013.
- Overdose deaths involving benzodiazepines increased more than sevenfold between 1999 and 2015.