Lately, Klonopin tolerance and addiction have been a hot topic, and we felt it was time to provide real information to help the general public understand. Klonopin is a benzodiazepine that is generally prescribed to treat seizure disorders. It is often referred to as an anticonvulsant or antiepileptic medication. It has been used to treat panic attacks in people with severe anxiety disorders or panic disorders in recent years. It is the most highly addictive drug of all benzodiazepines and has become a popular prescription medication abused by those with substance use disorder. It may be a prescription to help with anxiety and panic but was misused, which turned into an addiction. Let’s dig into the Klonopin addiction itself.
Many benzodiazepines come with an increased risk of abuse but prescribed Klonopin is heavily addictive. It works quickly, often within an hour, and can remain effective in the body for up to three days. Individuals with a substance use disorder are often at a higher risk of developing tolerance, leading to addiction to the prescription drug. What helps maintain the addiction is the body’s withdrawal symptoms that make stopping the drug dangerous. Even people who use the drug to treat seizures must discuss with their doctor how to taper themselves off the drug rather than stopping altogether. Medical supervision is an absolute must, regardless if an addiction is present. Overdose death rates involving benzodiazepines grew as prescriptions grew from 1998 to 2013. However, we have seen those overdose cases plateau, more than likely due to doctors stepping back from prescribing Clonazepam as often and relying on other medications that are slightly safer.
How Does Klonopin Impact The Brain?
The brand name Klonopin, also known generically as Clonazepam, enters the bloodstream and makes its way to the central nervous system. There it triggers the brain to release calming chemicals into the body. These chemicals will relieve anxiety and relax the muscles of the body. There is the side effect of feeling sleepy, especially during the day, and slowed bodily functions. If you take it short-term, 4 weeks or less, you will not likely develop a Clonazepam addiction. Longer than 4 weeks can lead anyone to develop a tolerance and require high doses to be effective. This is often when people become physically dependent, which then leads to drug addiction to Klonopin.
When people are unable to obtain Clonazepam, they will resort to other substances to achieve their high. This can be alcohol abuse to street drug use. Sometimes people will use other prescription medications to try and chase the high they get from Klonopin. When people start abusing several substances, it can get perilous and lead to an overdose quickly.
Klonopin Side Effects
There are quite a few side effects when using Clonazepam. These include:
- slurred speech
- dry mouth
- sore gums
- runny nose
- loss of appetite
- depression and mood swings
- blurred vision
- memory problems and slowed mental processes
- vivid dreams and nightmares
What Are The Effects Of A Klonopin High?
The effects of the Klonopin high are not quite like the more popular abused drugs, namely opioids or marijuana. Instead, the high is more subtle and sedative. People abuse Klonopin because of the mild euphoria and the feeling of pure relaxation. It also lasts longer than some of the other drugs on the street. However, that is short-lived when you are chasing the high rather than treating seizures or extreme anxiety.
What Are The Long-Term Side Effects Of Klonopin Abuse?
Tolerance doesn’t take very long to develop when engaging in Clonazepam abuse. In just a few weeks, the dose you started with will not give you that sedated feeling; it will require high doses to get the same effect. Physical dependence, and often psychological dependence, will settle in. But that is just the beginning; here is a list of all of the side effects that come with long-term Klonopin addiction:
- Clonazepam overdose
- muscle weakness and muscle spasms
- anti-social behavior
- emotional numbness
- short-term withdrawal symptoms, such as seizures
- polydrug abuse
- poor concentration and confusion
- some memory loss
- heightened anxiety
- congenital disabilities in unborn children (if used while pregnant)
How You Know If You’ve Developed A Tolerance
The biggest sign that you have developed tolerance is that the original dose you were using must be increased to be effective. As stated before, it can be just a few short weeks for these types of addictive substances to take hold of your system. Even if unintentional, you can still develop tolerance and dependency.
What To Do Once You Have A Tolerance
The first thing to do is to talk to your doctor if this is a prescription you have been taking to treat seizures or anxiety. Do not attempt to stop using Clonazepam cold turkey; the likelihood of severe seizures is great and dangerous for anyone. People with a prescription also need to know if there are other options to taking Clonazepam safer and equally as effective.
What if you are someone who is using Klonopin from someone else’s prescription? This is a medical emergency, and you must go to the nearest detox center or emergency room to safely come off the drug. Again, we cannot state it enough that sudden cessation is incredibly dangerous, and you need medical intervention to help you with the withdrawal symptoms.
Uncomfortable Withdrawal Symptoms From Benzodiazepine Prescriptions
The withdrawal process will be a scary one. Klonopin withdrawal can cause psychological symptoms alongside physical ones. Your physical health and mental health condition are important as you navigate the withdrawal symptoms you will experience. Those symptoms include:
- increased anxiety
- intense drug cravings
- extreme fatigue
- nausea and vomiting
- irregular heartbeat
- thoughts of suicide
- memory loss
It’s easy to see why detox at a rehab facility or hospital becomes incredibly important for someone to get through the withdrawal symptoms. Withdrawal can take just a few days to a few weeks, depending on the severity of the addiction.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay In Someone’s System?
One of the reasons it is so easy to become dependent on Clonazepam is because it stays in the body for weeks. American Addiction Centers report that saliva tests can detect Klonopin for 5-6 days from last use. A urine test can detect up to a month, and hair tests are up to 28 days after last use.
Addiction Treatment Options For Drug Abuse
There are numerous options for treatment for an addiction to the benzodiazepine drug. The first thing that must happen is admitting yourself, or a loved one to detox or hospital for handling withdrawal. Next, the doctors on staff will use a tapering method to wean the patient off of Klonopin. If it is prescribed for seizures, they will work to find an alternative. If prescribed for a mental health issue, they will look to alternative medications for their diagnosis.
Once the withdrawal is complete, it is recommended to look at rehab programs for long-term success. For those with intense mental health issues in conjunction with substance abuse, inpatient treatment is highly recommended. It helps the individual get stable in a safe environment and finalize a mental health diagnosis if necessary.
A treatment facility with an outpatient setting is highly recommended for long-term success. Groups with other recovering addicts can help inspire others to keep going forward, no matter how hard it gets to overcome an addiction. One-on-one sessions with a trained addiction professional can also be helpful to process past trauma and learn coping skills to manage their emotions. Many also offer medication prescribers who monitor medications to ensure that the patient is doing well. Outpatient rehab programs are vital to the success of addiction treatment and recovery.