Klonopin addiction creates a proverbial merry-go-round. Users flock to the prescribed medication to alleviate conditions such as seizures, panic disorders, spasms, and anxiety. But after a certain point, the prescribed amount can no longer effectively treat their ailments. When they stop using it, the symptoms that caused them to use it in the first place flare up again.
So users start taking it again and develop an addiction to a sedative that can be life-threatening. In fact, Klonopin and similar drugs are ensnaring older Americans at alarming rates.
In addition, users who get hooked on Klonopin tend to share common stories. Because Klonopin is prescribed by a doctor, they believe it’s safe, but they unknowingly become addicted to it.
Although opioids keep dominating the national conversation about fatal overdoses, Klonopin and other sedatives are definitely contributing to this crisis.
What is Klonopin?
Clonazepam was patented in 1964, and it was later marketed as Klonopin by a Swiss healthcare company in 1975.
Klonopin is part of a class of medications known as benzodiazepines (or benzos), a group of highly addictive psychoactive drugs that have a sedative effect on the body. Klonopin works like other benzos, in that it ultimately boosts dopamine levels and floods the brain with feel-good neurotransmitters. Its addictive properties have been likened to cannabinoids and opioids. Klonopin is taken orally as a disintegrating wafer or tablet, and it’s only intended for short-term use.
Klonopin is primarily used to treat acute, occasional seizures. However, it’s most commonly and effectively prescribed for children with epilepsy. Doctors also prescribe it off-label to treat depression and anxiety. It’s also administered to people who have difficulty navigating social environments.
Klonopin treats muscle disorders such as Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS), akathisia, and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). It’s also unique in that it has an exceptionally long half-life.
Its effects can be felt within an hour, and it lasts up to twelve hours. By the time you take your next dose of Klonopin, it’s likely that your last dose will still be in your bloodstream.
That long half-life is also why Klonopin is a powerfully addictive and dangerous drug. One study concluded that one-third of the users who took the drug for longer than four weeks developed a dependence.
What are the Signs of Klonopin Addiction?
When someone starts using Klonopin, they can quickly develop a tolerance. They’ll start taking larger doses to gain the same effect that a smaller dose once yielded.
Here’s the way the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) defines drug dependence: “The body adapts to the drug, requiring more of it to achieve a certain effect (tolerance) and eliciting drug-specific physical or mental symptoms if drug use is abruptly ceased (withdrawal).”
When Klonopin users quit taking the drug, many experience withdrawal. Here are the observable symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal:
- Muscle pain
- Low attention span
- Panic attacks
- Muscle spasms
- Increased anxiety
Once a user becomes addicted, they will display compulsive behaviors that are “characterized by an inability to stop using a drug; failure to meet work, social, or family obligations; and, sometimes (depending on the drug), tolerance and withdrawal.” These behaviors include:
- Displaying defensive or aggressive behavior
- Having strained relationships
- Using the drug despite negative consequences
- Having strong cravings
- Going to great lengths to obtain it
- Taking the drug in an unprescribed manner
- Taking it solely for its euphoric effects
- Experiencing frequent sleepiness
- Having slurred speech
- Getting into financial or legal trouble
- Being constipated
- Mixing it with other drugs
What’s Involved in Addiction Treatment for Klonopin?
Klonopin can be insidious. It locks people into a cycle of use and addiction. People assume that it cannot be abused, but it’s just as addictive as Xanax.
A Klonopin addiction is dangerous and can be fatal. Therefore, your best course of action is undergoing professional addiction treatment. Because users tend to abuse Klonopin with other substances (i.e.., polysubstance abuse), it’s even more urgent that you seek recovery services.
The first, most essential step toward recovery ismedical detoxification, which can be administered by our medical staff. In detox, your body will be cleansed of Klonopin and other toxins. The medical staff will administer round-the-clock care to ensure your comfort and safety. You’ll also receive a comprehensive initial assessment, which includes a review of your medical history, a mental health evaluation, and a social evaluation.
A licensed therapist will provide you with an in-depth look at your biological, psychological, and sociological needs. Then your therapist will be able to develop the best treatment plan for your individual needs.
To help you recover from your Klonopin addiction, it’s highly recommended that you stay at a facility and receive comprehensive treatment and counseling, particularly if you’ve been engaging in polysubstance abuse. This step is referred to asresidential treatment, where you’ll have access to a range of certified and effective therapy models to help you stay sober.
These programs include:
- Group therapy sessions provide you the support you need to know you’re not alone in your addiction recovery journey.
- You’ll receive personalized treatment to address the emotional issues that contribute to addiction.
- With Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), you’ll receive treatment that addresses the negative thoughts and actions associated with addiction. In this stage, you’ll learn practical strategies and skills to combat old habits.
- Through dialectical behavioral therapy, you’ll learn about the triggers that lead to substance abuse.
- In motivational interviewing, you’ll identify key issues, learn how to think positively, and embrace changes that can improve your life.
- You’ll learn how to incorporate meditation and mindfulness into your daily life.
- Since addiction is often described as a family disease, family therapy will help you heal some of those wounds.
- In order to ensure your post-treatment success, you’ll go through aftercare planning, which helps prevent relapse.
The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) recommends that the full treatment process take 90 days. This time frame has been shown to produce the best results.
How Dangerous is Klonopin?
The sedative effects of Klonopin are amplified when a user ingests the drug with alcohol, opioids, or another benzodiazepine. In those instances, Klonopin can produce life-threatening breathing problems, sedation, or comas. When someone uses Klonopin with other substances, it can trigger overdose and even death.
In addition, Klonopin can produce side effects that greatly impair one’s ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. Such side effects include:
- Mental fogginess
- Coordination problems
- Blurred vision
Women who are pregnant or breastfeeding should not take Klonopin because it may harm the fetus.
Klonopin Abuse Statistics
- Between 1996 and 2013, the number of adults who filled benzo prescriptions increased from 8.1 million to 13.5 million, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.
- Between 2007 and 2011, clonazepam was responsible for 75% of child hospitalizations related to substance abuse.
- From 2002 to 2016, there was an eightfold increase in the total number of fatal overdoses related to benzos, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
- According to one study, people who use more than 90 doses of Klonopin have a 50% higher risk of dementia.