There is, sadly, no question about the dangers presented by prescription drug use disorders. The number of people who have abused prescription drugs has skyrocketed over the past decade, with tens of thousands of people dying as a result of this scourge.
Prescription drug abuse comes in many forms. One of the most dangerous is when people abuse opioids, a class of drugs that is supposed to be used for pain and that can be extremely addictive. However, benzodiazepines, also known as benzos, are among the more addictive classes of drugs. One of the best-known examples of benzos is Klonopin, a tranquillizer that is used to treat anxiety and seizure disorders. Unfortunately, Klonopin can also be extremely addictive, and that addiction can result in death.
What Is Klonopin, and What Is It Used for?
Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam. It is a benzodiazepine and acts as a sedative or tranquilizer. Its most common use is for anxiety disorders. Klonopin works very quickly to stop an anxiety attack in its tracks, flooding its user with a sense of calm and peace. It is fast-acting and can often begin to work in as little as 10 minutes. Its effects can typically last for between 8-12 hours although it stays in your system for longer.
The drug works best when taken sublingually, meaning under the tongue. It will dissolve and go directly into the bloodstream, allowing its effects to be felt faster.
As of 2018, there were more than 17 million Klonopin prescriptions in the United States, making it the 43rd-most popular drug in the country.
The most common use of Klonopin is for the treatment of anxiety and as an anti-seizure drug. It can also be used as a treatment for restless leg syndrome since it can help to calm the muscles.
How Does Klonopin Work?
Klonopin works by reducing segments of activity within your brain. Specifically, it enhances the effects of GABA, or gamma-aminobutyric acid. GABA is a type of neurotransmitter that works to slow the activity in your brain. Klonopin makes the effects of GABA stronger, thus slowing down segments of brain activity and specifically slowing down certain nerves and muscle activities. These actions can have multiple effects on your body, including reducing anxiety, cognitive function, reaction time, and muscle movements.
The areas that Klonopin targets help to explain its use and also explain its rather extensive list of side effects because GABA is involved in quite a few brain functions. Unfortunately, scientists have yet to determine a way to make the effects of Klonopin more targeted. This also explains why the drug can be addictive and why it is so ripe for abuse.
People who take Klonopin often report that they feel much more relaxed and at peace. Muscles are less likely to move involuntarily, and anxiety attacks abate. This is what the drug is designed to do. However, there are a variety of negative side effects that can occur when someone takes Klonopin.
What Are the Side Effects of Klonopin?
Because of the way that Klonopin works and the extensive impact it has on your body and your brain, there are a variety of side effects that are very common with its use. These include:
- Physical impacts: Lack of coordination, muscle weakness, dizziness, sleepiness, difficulty staying away, headache, slurred speech, dry mouse, runny nose, involuntary eye movements, or an upset stomach
- Emotional impacts: Depression or emotional numbness
- Cognitive impacts: Brain fog and other cognitive difficulties, disorientation, memory difficulty
Of course, not everyone experiences these side effects, and some people will experience worse side effects than others, but all of the above is possible when it comes to Klonopin use.
These side effects are common, but they are typically more manageable. More serious side effects are possible but thankfully are rare. Serious issues include hallucinations, severe confusion, and difficulty breathing. You should seek medical attention if you experience any of these issues.
Why Is Klonopin Dangerous?
While Klonopin unquestionably has numerous benefits, it has many features that make it dangerous, susceptible to abuse, and susceptible to withdrawal symptoms.
Broadly speaking, Klonopin has many standard features that make it ripe for addiction. Taking it will often feel good for the user. It can help to create a series of pleasant sensations, including relaxation. It is fast-acting, meaning that its euphoric effects can be felt very quickly. However, despite its fast-acting nature, some people will still snort the drug, putting them at an increased chance of developing an addiction or overdosing.
Regular users of Klonopin may develop a tolerance to the drug. This means that they will need to take larger amounts of the drug in order to get the same sensations. Developing a tolerance is not indicative of a use disorder; after all, there are many legitimate reasons why someone may need to take Klonopin on a regular basis. However, the fact that Klonopin use may create a tolerance does increase the odds that someone may develop an addiction to the treatment since taking more of the drug is likely to make someone become more dependent on it.
Finally, it is possible to overdose and die from Klonopin. As noted above, Klonopin works by interacting with your brain to reduce electrical signals, thus calming your brain and your nerves. The problem, of course, is that this drug can work too well, potentially reducing wanted and needed activity in your brain. This can result in the suppression of vital organs, leading to injury or death.
Unfortunately, this is not an uncommon occurrence. Klonopin overdose is linked to thousands of overdoses every year. Furthermore, the number of overdoses that occur as a result of Klonopin use continues to rise. Klonopin is one of the more popular and well-known benzos, and as of 2019, 16% of all overdose deaths involving opioids also involved benzos like Klonopin.
How Can Klonopin Be Abused?
When taken as part of a comprehensive effort to improve mental health or to regulate muscles or seizure problems, Klonopin can be a highly effective drug. Unfortunately, the wide range of side effects that someone experiences when taking Klonopin make the drug ripe for abuse.
Klonopin abuse has increased as Klonopin prescriptions have done the same. It is unfortunately common for Klonopin to be abused in conjunction with other medications or drugs, such as alcohol or opioids. Taking such combinations can be extremely dangerous, if not deadly.
Klonopin abuse occurs when someone takes the drug for reasons other than those prescribed. The tranquil and sometimes euphoric side effects that someone feels when he or she takes the medication are often enjoyable, and people will take the drug in order to experience these sensations.
Klonopin can also be abused when more is taken than a doctor prescribes. Since the drug is so strong, people usually start at the lowest amount, which is half a milligram. The dosage is then increased as needed. Upping the dose, of course, can also increase the potency of the drug and the side effects that are felt, including those feelings of euphoria or relaxation.
Tragically, the nature of benzodiazepines and the tranquil feelings that they can inspire make this drug extremely ripe for abuse. Warnings about its addictiveness are becoming more common with the United States Food & Drug Administration recently requiring that the makers of many types of benzos, including Klonipan, give printed warnings about how addictive they are and what their risks are.
What Are the Signs of a Klonopin Addiction or Overdose?
Signs of a Klonopin addiction can be many faceted and can appear in numerous ways, including:
- Increased grogginess and sleepiness
- Reduced libido
- Withdrawal from social activities or a change in social groups
- A noticeable degradation in someone’s performance at work or school
- Obvious cognitive difficulties
- Difficult time remembering or recalling items that they had previously been able to remember
- Increased levels of secrecy or withdrawal from family and friends
If someone has overdosed on Klonopin, the effects are often clear to see. A person may appear completely disoriented or out of it. He or she may be unconscious, have slow or shallow breathing, or not be breathing at all. The individual may be unconscious or appear to be in a deep sleep. If you believe that someone has overdosed on Klonopin, or any other drug, call 911 immediately. Quick medical intervention can save the life of someone who has overdosed on a drug, but that call must happen as quickly as possible.
What Are the Treatment Options for Klonopin Abuse?
Thankfully, there are many forms of treatment for Klonopin addiction; indeed, programs to treat this type of addiction are very common.
Like in many other forms of addiction, you should work with your loved ones, doctors, and addiction professionals to determine the best course of action for you. They may recommend a variety of potential treatment courses. More severe cases of addiction may require inpatient treatment. This is a type of addiction treatment in which an individual lives in a rehabilitation facility for a set period of time. During this period, the person will be under 24/7 supervision and will undergo intensive therapy. By contrast, outpatient therapy is a form of therapy in which a person will undergo therapy but will live at home. Depending on the circumstances, the person may even be able to continue work or school during this time.
Unfortunately, at the moment, there is no medication-assisted therapy for Klonopin addiction. This means that a person must rely exclusively on psychological forms of counseling. Thankfully, there are many types of counseling, including:
- Numerous forms of psychotherapy,during which an individual will work with a counselor to examine the thought processes, feelings, and motivations for using Klonopin – This form of therapy will likely involve an examination of a person’s past, a discussion of any traumatic experiences that he or she may have had, and an offer of help for the individual in question to learn to identify alternative and productive ways of managing stress and difficulties.
- Alternative forms of therapy, like yoga, meditation, music therapy, or art therapy – An increasing amount of research has shown that more patients desire these therapies and that they can be a helpful complement to more traditional forms of therapy.
- Sober-living or recovery homes, which are supervised residential facilities – These homes will likely also offer therapeutic options that can help a person transition back into the “real world.”
It is important to realize that treatment options do exist for Klonopin addiction. One such example is Granite Recovery Center, which offers a variety of state-of-the-art, evidence-based treatment options, including treatment for mental illness, substance use disorders, and more. The sooner you or your loved one can be treated for a Klonopin addiction, the better because early intervention will increase your chances of a successful recovery. Don’t wait another second wondering if this disorder will take your life. Instead, call today at 1-855-712-7784, and immediately start your journey to recovery with us at Granite Recovery Center.