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Clonazepam (Klonopin) Addiction Treatment

Clonazepam (Klonopin) Addiction Treatment

Introduction

Clonazepam, also known as Klonopin, is a potentially habit-forming benzodiazepine. The drug is helpful for people suffering from anxiety disorders. However, the drug does have a high risk of addiction for some. Luckily, rehab centers offer treatment for Clonazepam addiction. Treatment starts with a medically managed withdrawal, followed by individual therapy, group therapy, and support group work.

History

The medical world has been struggling with benzodiazepines for many decades. Until the 1950s, barbiturates were the leading prescription drugs for treating anxiety. But, these medications had a high potential for addiction and accidental overdose. For this reason, medical leaders needed a safer class of drugs.

In 1955, the company Hoffman La Roche assigned Leo Sternbach to develop a new drug compound. The new drug was supposed to be less addictive and less toxic.1 He ended up designing the drug class benzodiazepines. The first benzodiazepine he created was known as chlordiazepoxide (Librium) in 1955. Valium followed in 1963, and Clonazepam in 1964. Hoffman La Roche patented Clonazepam after the huge success of other benzodiazepines. It was used for treating epileptic seizures.

Initially, the new group of drugs appeared to be less likely to cause addiction than older drugs. Medical professionals accepted benzodiazepines at the beginning and often prescribed them to patients. A major improvement was their lack of respiratory depression, which was a major concern with barbiturates.

But, clinicians’ propensity to prescribe the drugs led to an increase in abuse. Medical leaders began raising concerns about their side effects. In spite of their warnings, benzodiazepine prescriptions increased by 67%, from 8.1 million in 1996 to 13.5 million in 2013. Today, it is one of the most commonly prescribed groups of medicines in the United States.

Benzodiazepine Prescriptions Increased 67% from 1996 to 2013
67%

The benzodiazepine saga continues to evolve — modern-day issues and concerns beyond those ever predicted keep on appearing.

What Type of Drug is Klonopin?

Benzodiazepines are a class of drugs that doctors prescribe for treating a range of psychological and neurological disorders. They are one of the most widely prescribed medications in the United States, particularly for anxiety and insomnia.

Benzodiazepines include well-known drugs like:

Alprazolam (Xanax)

Clobazam (Onfi)

Clonazepam (Klonopin)

Clorazepate (Tranxene)

Chlordiazepoxide (Librium)

Diazepam (Valium)

There are many drugs in the benzodiazepine class, but their effects are the same. They all increase the activity of a substance in the brain called GABA. GABA is a neurotransmitter that blocks impulses between nerve cells in the brain, resulting in:

Anxiety reduction

Sedation

Muscle relaxation

Short-term use of these drugs is generally safe and effective, but long-term use is more controversial. The drug acts on the brain, interfering with natural neurological biochemistry. The more benzodiazepines taken, the more tolerance is developed for the drug. People often feel like they need more and more of the drug to experience the same effects.

When abused, the drug can create:

Euphoric high

Feeling of calmness

Diminished worry and anxiety

Relaxation of the body

Less tension and restlessness

What is Clonazepam Used to Treat?

Clonazepam, due to its calming effects, is used to treat:

Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): Health professionals recommend taking Clonazepam to treat short-term GAD treatment for no longer than four weeks.

Insomnia: Patients suffering from insomnia are normally prescribed Clonazepam. The treatment is only short-term as the drug has the potential to lead to dependence.

Seizures: Clonazepam is highly effective at preventing prolonged epileptic seizures.

Panic attacks: Due to their anti-anxiety and instant effects, Clonazepam is also effective at treating panic disorders.

Alcohol withdrawal: The medication helps people suffering from alcohol addiction by reducing the risk of severe alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Clonazepam is often misused as a sleeping pill due to its ability to induce drowsiness. In many cases, people are not aware they have developed an addiction to Clonazepam until they have stopped using the drug altogether.

Klonopin Abuse and Addiction

How Many People Abuse the Drug?

Reports show that 15% of Americans have benzodiazepines in their home.

People who abuse clonazepam come by the drug through prescriptions from multiple doctors. Some also forge prescriptions or buy the drug on the illegal market.

According to DEA, there were 10,686 Clonazepam reports from US federal, state, and local forensic laboratories in 2011. This number increased through 2012. 2

Moreover, the 2013 National Survey for Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) found that nearly 2 million people aged 12 or older tried prescription psychotherapeutic drugs non-medically for the first time within a year before completing the survey.

Americans that Have Benzodiazepines in their Home
15%

Who Abuses Clozanepam?

The 2013 NSDUH data points out that the average age of a person who uses illicit prescription drugs such as Clozanepam is 25. Tranquilizers abuse is common among teenagers. Hundreds of teenagers admit to having tried drugs such as Clonazepam, including children aged 12-13.

Benzodiazepine-Related Emergency Room Visits

Benzodiazepines are a potent drug that is dangerous when mixed with alcohol. This is because benzodiazepines and alcohol influence the same inhibitory neurotransmitter (GABA) to reduce activity across the brain. Apart from alcohol, people often combine them with opioids. This is equally dangerous and lethal.

The estimated number of emergency room visits involving benzodiazepines alone or in combination with alcohol and opioids has been increasing throughout the years.

The number of ER visits 2005 2011
benzodiazepines Alone

46,966

89,310

Benzodiazepines and Alcohol

22,682

50,561

Benzodiazepines and Opioid

16,473

27,452

Benzodiazepines, Opioids and Alcohol

3,727

8,229

Yearly Deaths Linked to Benzodiazepines

Clonazepam is no different than other prescription sedatives. Long-term and excessive use of the drug can lead to seizures and severe withdrawal symptoms if the drug is stopped. In such situations, a medically supervised detoxification is essential.

The number of yearly deaths linked to Clonazepam has been increasing. In 1999, 1,219 people died from an overdose, compared to 2011 when 7,161 people died from an overdose.

Clonazepam for Anxiety Treatment

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine medication commonly used to treat a range of conditions. It is effective in the treatment of various anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder and social anxiety. Doctors also prescribe it to people suffering from chronic panic attacks to treat any underlying anxiety disorder. Clonazepam can help control anxiety and reduce its side effects.

It is not uncommon for people to take too much of the drug too often. This can easily result in a psychological and physical dependence that’s hard to break. The addiction can start with a basic prescription from a doctor to reduce the symptoms of anxiety. Doctors usually prescribe the drug for no more than four weeks.

Typical Dose

The medication is available as a tablet or an orally disintegrating tablet (wafer). A person may take a tablet with water, whereas a wafer can be taken on its own. The recommended dosage for anxiety in adults is 0.25 mg, twice a day. A doctor can increase the dosage; however, the maximum dose should not exceed 4 mg per day.

Risk of Dependence and Withdrawal

People who take the drug should be mindful of its side effects and dependence. Long-term use of benzodiazepines can easily lead to addiction. Dependence can take place after using the medication for as little as one month.

Ending use of Clonazepam may result in withdrawal symptoms. People should follow their doctor’s advice for discontinuing this medication.

Side Effects of Klonopin

Doctors generally prescribe benzodiazepines for no more than two to four weeks at a time. They believe that long-term use of benzodiazepines can, in fact, worsen anxiety in patients. Long-term abuse may result in declining memory and brain damage. In many cases, this kind of damage can be difficult to reverse.

When a person takes high doses of Clonazepam or uses it for a long period, they may show symptoms such as: 3

Mood swings

Drug tolerance

Dizziness

Numbness

Impaired cognition

Confusion

Slow reaction time

Reduced libido

Impaired judgment

Apart from physical effects, one may experience a range of psychological symptoms. One of the most common psychological signs of Clonazepam abuse is becoming focused on obtaining the drug. Other signs include feeling like you can’t get through the day or go to sleep without it. The effects of overdose usually are not life-threatening unless mixed with other drugs or alcohol.

If the person takes a combination of Clonazepam with alcohol or other drugs, they can experience:

Profound sedation

Confusion or delirium

Loss of consciousness

Coma

Death

Withdrawal Symptoms

Any attempt to stop taking the drug leads to painful withdrawal symptoms. The person’s body and mind refuse the sudden absence of the powerful substance. Clonazepam is no exception.

Seeking treatment is crucial when someone struggles with Clonazepam addiction. When a person stops taking the drug suddenly, withdrawal symptoms can appear. The withdrawal symptoms for Clonazepam addiction range from moderate to severe. It depends on how long the person has been taking the drug and how strong their physical addiction is.

Clonazepam addiction can have a rebound effect, meaning the symptoms it was supposed to heal return with increased intensity. The most common withdrawal symptoms from Clonazepam include: 4

Anxiety

Insomnia

Irritability

Tremors

Seizures

Panic attacks

Withdrawal symptoms can appear after a person stops taking the drug. This is a sign that physical dependence has developed. The symptoms will begin within a few days of stopping Klonopin. Klonopin withdrawal can be intense and dangerous to manage without professional help.

People trying to detox on their own risk serious medical complications. For this reason, detox should never be attempted alone or in an unsafe environment.

Misconceptions About Clonazepam

There are a lot of misconceptions surrounding Klonopin abuse, namely:

You Can Safely Take Clonazepam Without a Prescription

Taking the drug without previous consultation with a doctor can be harmful and lead to serious side effects. Only a doctor can prescribe the pills and give you an appropriate dosage.

Clonazepam Can’t Get You High

Benzodiazepines are mind-altering drugs. When Klonopin is abused and taken in high doses, it can activate the reward center of the brain. The abuser will experience a mellowing high that they might want to experience over and over again.

Clonazepam is a Prescription Drug, and That Makes it Safe to Use

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine that can have a negative effect if taken in higher doses — taking a higher dose than prescribed can result in drug tolerance and dependence. That’s why doctors only prescribe the drug for a short period and in small doses. The maximum recommended dose is 4 mg per day.

You Can’t Fatally Overdose from Clonazepam Abuse

The opposite is correct. The number of Klonopin overdose is continually increasing. In 1999, 1,219 people died from an overdose, compared to 2011 when 7,161 people died. High doses of the drug can slow vital functions and lead to stroke, cardiac arrest, respiratory complications, coma or death. Mixing Klonopin with alcohol or opioids increases the risk of a fatal overdose.

You Can Safely Stop Taking Clonazepam

Benzodiazepines are known to alter chemical reactions in the brain. They interfere with the production and reabsorption of the brain’s neurotransmitters. The brain adjusts to their effect and may be hypersensitive to natural brain chemicals when they are stopped. Withdrawal symptoms can be intense and include:

  • Rebound anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Seizures
  • Panic attacks

Klonopin should never be stopped suddenly. The side effects can be adverse and even potentially life-threatening.

Treating an Addiction to Klonopin

Clonazepam addiction can be challenging to overcome without professional assistance. There are many health risks associated with withdrawal. A person suffering from an addiction needs to go through a medical evaluation by medical personnel.

Step 1

The first part of a treatment program is detoxification. The body must first be cleansed from any toxins before moving on to the second part of treatment. Detoxification treatment consists of gradually reducing the dosage to avoid withdrawal symptoms. A doctor will communicate the dose, frequency, and duration of Clonazepam use to ensure a safe detoxification process. Moreover, the patient might be prescribed other medications to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms.

Step 2

After a patient completes a detoxification program, the next step is to address the psychological effects of the addiction. They can choose between an inpatient rehab facility or an outpatient program.

Impatient Rehab

Inpatient rehab is recommended for patients struggling with a strong physical addiction. It’s also beneficial for people who don’t live in a supportive home environment. During inpatient rehab, the patient lives at the facility while undergoing treatment. In general, treatment for addiction includes individual counseling or group therapy. These therapies aim to help understand the underlying factors that led to addiction.

Outpatient Rehab

Outpatient rehab is a good option for patients suffering from mild addiction. During outpatient treatment, a person continues living in their home, but they check into treatment at their allotted times for counseling and medication.

Clonazepam rehab programs usually last anywhere from 28 to 90 days. The length of stay depends on the severity of the addiction and the patient’s physical and mental needs.

Step 3

Recovery from Clonazepam addiction shouldn’t stop when a treatment period ends. The third step of an effective treatment program is the aftercare plan. Aftercare is a type of continued treatment that aims to improve coping skills and prevent further abuse of Clonazepam. Examples of aftercare services include:

  • Sober living arrangements
  • Follow-up therapy
  • Medical evaluations
  • Alumni support groups

Key Takeaways

There are several key takeaways to keep in mind when it comes to Clonazepam addiction treatment:

Clonazepam is a habit-forming benzodiazepine that is prescribed for treating anxiety disorders.

People who enjoy the sedation effects of the drug have a high risk of developing an addiction. In fact, a large number of people have become addicted to Clonazepam after taking only the amount prescribed by their doctor.

The number of ER visits involving benzodiazepines has been increasing throughout the years.

Stopping intake of Clonazepam may result in withdrawal symptoms. People should follow their doctor’s directions for discontinuing this medication or changing the dose.

Many rehab centers offer Clonazepam treatment that starts with a medically managed withdrawal. To maintain long-term sobriety, people attend individual and group therapy.

This information should not replace a visit to a doctor or treatment center. If you are concerned that you might be suffering from a Clonazepam addiction or a loved one, ask for professional help today.