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The Dangers of Klonopin Addiction

By Linda Whiteside

Medically Reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson

Table of Contents

‍Knowing how to manage your anxiety can be challenging. For some people, prescription medications like benzodiazepines (benzos) may be helpful in curbing symptoms of anxiety. These medications, also referred to as anxiolytics or anti-anxiety drugs, are frequently prescribed for their ability to reduce the intensity of usual stress and anxiety; however, even if taken as directed and within recommended dosage limits, benzos can have negative side effects. If you’ve been taking Klonopin for anxiety but want to stop so that you can avoid developing a dependence on the drug, now is the time to take action. This article will explain Klonopin addiction and its side effects so that you understand what it could do to your body if used long-term.

What Is Klonopin?

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine, a group of medications commonly used to treat anxiety. It is a prescription medication that can be given to people who suffer from panic attacks, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, PTSD, and other anxiety-related conditions. Klonopin works by binding to GABA receptors in the brain. These receptors are responsible for reducing excitability and calming the nervous system, which can help reduce symptoms of anxiety. Klonopin is also used to treat seizure disorders and muscle spasms. It’s available in both pill and liquid form.

Is Klonopin Safe if It is Prescribed?

Klonopin is generally a safe medication if taken as prescribed and for a limited time; however, it is not safe if you do not follow your doctor’s instructions. Long-term use of Klonopin can lead to a Klonopin dependence, or the need to take the drug daily to avoid withdrawal. If you are taking Klonopin and want to stop, you should talk with your doctor about how to taper off the drug. You should never abruptly stop taking Klonopin. If you do, you could experience withdrawal symptoms that are difficult to manage. You should also know that taking Klonopin can be addictive even if you do take it as prescribed!

Signs and Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction

If you or someone you know is taking Klonopin and experiences any of the following symptoms, it’s likely that a Klonopin addiction has developed. If you suspect that you or someone you know is addicted to Klonopin, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible. Although Klonopin addiction is a difficult condition to treat, there are many treatment options available. Klonopin addiction signs include:

  • Regular cravings for Klonopin.
  • Having a strong wish to quit but finding oneself unable to do so.
  • Reduced interest in social or professional obligations.
  • Developing financial or legal issues.
  • Consistent Klonopin abuse despite many negative consequences.

The Dangers of Klonopin Addiction

As with any type of drug addiction, Klonopin addiction comes with a number of dangers. If you take this medication for a long period of time and don’t address your dependence, it can cause serious health issues, including:

  • Depression and Anxiety – It’s very common for people who take benzos for anxiety to also experience depression. This is because the medication can cause mood changes, as well as a decrease in motivation.
  • Cognitive Impairment – Long-term use of Klonopin can cause cognitive impairment and affect your ability to think clearly. This is especially true if you take a high dosage or take the drug long-term.
  • Brain Damage – According to a study published in The Journal of Neuroscience, long-term Klonopin use can cause brain damage. It can also lead to the development of chronic seizures.
  • Seizures – Klonopin is commonly prescribed for those with seizure disorders, but it can cause them in people who don’t experience seizures as a result of their anxiety.
  • Suicidal Ideation – Benzos are associated with suicidal thoughts, especially in the early stages of drug use. Studies show that people with depression who are taking Klonopin experience more suicidal thoughts.
  • Heart Rhythm Issues – Klonopin can cause prolonged QT syndrome, a condition that puts you at risk for abnormal heart rhythms.

What is Klonopin Withdrawal?

Klonopin withdrawal occurs when you suddenly stop taking this anxiety medication. Although it might seem like a simple process, withdrawal can cause many negative symptoms. If you’ve been taking Klonopin for an extended period of time, it’s important to take it slowly when you attempt to stop. The best way to end Klonopin use is in a medical detox program.

Detox: Tapering from Klonopin

If you’ve been taking Klonopin for anxiety but are ready to stop, you will need to taper off the drug in order to avoid withdrawal. Tapering is the process of slowly lowering your dosage of Klonopin so that your body can adjust to lower levels of the drug, rather than quitting cold turkey. To taper off Klonopin, a healthcare professional will determine the lowest possible dosage that will still keep you from experiencing anxiety. Once you’ve reached your lowest possible dosage, you will start to taper off the drug. This means you will decrease your dosage by a set amount each day or week to avoid the rapid withdrawal symptoms that accompany abrupt cessation.

What Are the Symptoms of Klonopin Withdrawal?

If you’re planning to stop taking klonopin, you should be aware of the potential klonopin withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can range from mild to severe depending on how long you took the drug and what dosage you took.

  • Anxiety – A spike in anxiety is common during withdrawal from any benzodiazepine. This anxiety is often worse than what you experienced before you started taking the drug.
  • Agitation and irritability – Benzodiazepine withdrawal can lead to extreme agitation and irritability. If you have to go through Klonopin withdrawal, you might experience mood swings that cause you to have sudden, intense changes in emotions and behavior.
  • Insomnia – One of the most common side effects of Klonopin is insomnia, or an inability to sleep. This can make withdrawal even harder because you won’t have the chance to rest and recharge while you’re awake.
  • Mood swings – Mood swings are another common withdrawal symptom that often accompanies insomnia.
  • Gastrointestinal symptoms – Many people experience gastrointestinal symptoms when they withdraw from benzodiazepines, including nausea, vomiting, and abdominal pain.
  • Sweating – A high fever and profuse sweating may accompany withdrawal from Klonopin.
  • Shakiness – Extreme shakiness and tremors are common side effects of withdrawal.
  • Headaches – Headaches are a common complaint among people who withdraw from benzodiazepines.
  • Negative emotions – People who withdraw from Klonopin often report feelings of depression and anxiety, along with feelings of uncertainty.

How Long is Klonopin Withdrawal?

The length of klonopin withdrawal depends on how long you’ve been taking the drug, what dosage you were taking, and your individual genetics. The following are some general guidelines that will let you know how long to expect withdrawal symptoms to occur during Klonopin detox.

  • If you’ve taken Klonopin for less than a month, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that last a week.
  • If you’ve taken Klonopin for less than three months, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that last two weeks.
  • If you’ve taken Klonopin for less than six months, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that last four weeks.
  • If you’ve taken Klonopin for about a year, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that last up to six weeks.
  • If you’ve taken Klonopin for more than a year, but at a high dose, you may experience withdrawal symptoms that last up to nine weeks.

How Outpatient Rehab Helps

Addiction can be a difficult condition to treat, and it’s often best to seek help from a professional. If you or someone you know is addicted to Klonopin, it’s important to seek help from a medical professional as soon as possible. In an outpatient Klonopin addiction treatment program, you can receive one-on-one counseling, group therapy sessions, and other helpful treatments. You can also work with a medical professional to help you gradually come off of the drug. If you’re ready to get the help you need, you can reach out to NuView Treatment Center and contact one of our counselors to get more information about treatment.

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Author

Written By: Linda Whiteside
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Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor who has been providing mental health services for over 10 years.

Medically reviewed by: Dr. Ryan Peterson
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Went to medical school at The George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C.

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