Every day, millions of Americans find themselves struggling with epilepsy and anxiety disorders. To these mood and mental disorder patients, benzodiazepine drugs can seem to be godsent. But unfortunately, these drugs are a double-edged sword. Despite the positive effects benzodiazepines have on epilepsy, seizures, insomnia, and anxiety, these drugs are proven to have a high abuse-risk profile.
While addiction to benzodiazepines can be hazardous, not everyone dependent on this drug type is an addict. The problems kick in when benzodiazepines or other prescription drugs are used non-medically. The intensified euphoria that comes with using benzodiazepines or combining them with other substances like opioids and alcohol can easily get you hooked.
Klonopin falls under the family of benzodiazepine drugs. It is mainly used medically as a prescription for seizures and anxiety disorders. Klonopin is also commonly used non-medically by people hoping to get high on it. Unfortunately, there is a long list of potentially deadly lifestyle, physical, and mental consequences, as well as side effects.
Non-medical use of Klonopin is never safe and only places you at serious risk of becoming addicted and overdosing. Addiction to benzodiazepines can easily wreak havoc on your life. If you are already addicted to the drug, it is never recommended to try and quit Klonopin cold turkey. Attempting to quit the drug without seeking professional help can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer treatment programs to help you or your loved ones safely recover from a Klonopin addiction.
The Chemistry of Klonopin (Clonazepam)
Klonopin is a brand name for the medically approved clonazepam, which is a benzodiazepine prescribed for managing panic and anxiety disorders. Clonazepam is commonly prescribed for the treatment and management of various types of movement and seizure disorders. Clonazepam and benzodiazepines, in general, work through altering the effects of neurotransmitters like gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) on the CNS. Taking Klonopin improves GABA signaling, which causes inhibition of brain activity. This leads to a calming effect when brain function is minimized or slowed. The drug is pressed into tablets and intended to be administered orally.
As a prescription for panic disorders, Klonopin is available in an orally disintegrating tablet. Depending on the use, the tablet dosage of clonazepam ranges from 0.125 mg to 2 mg. When administered in the body, clonazepam has a half-life of about 18 to 50 hours. This means that half the amount of the dosage gets eliminated from the body within the half-life period. Due to the medically proven high risks of addiction or dependence, clonazepam is only used for short-term treatment. This is why doctors will always instruct you to only take the drug exactly as outlined in the prescription.
How Is Klonopin Misused?
Clonazepam, when taken exactly as prescribed, can be safely used in the management of seizures, anxiety, and panic disorders. However, clonazepam can also cause sedation and feelings of euphoria. These feelings of “high” appeal to many users and are among the major causes of abuse. You may not immediately realize it, but when you take the drug more often or take a little more just for the high, you are abusing the drug. Misuse of clonazepam may manifest in several ways, such as:
- Taking Klonopin without a medical prescription
- Taking Klonopin just for the “high”
- Administering the drug in other forms other than those approved (e.g., injecting or snorting a crushed tablet)
- Taking a larger dosage or more frequently than prescribed
Most people who abuse Klonopin are not patients of the conditions for which the drug is used to treat. Most of them purchase the drug from the streets or use another person’s prescription to seek a high. “Doctor shopping” is also a common practice among Klonopin addicts. This practice involves one person obtaining multiple prescriptions from different pharmacies or doctors. As earlier stated, clonazepam is only approved in tablet form for oral administration. However, some people will still crush the orally disintegrating tablets to inject or snort them in an attempt to get a more robust “high.”
Administering drugs in other ways than those medically approved intensifies the side effects, making the practice especially dangerous. Besides intensifying the side effects, snorting drugs causes the inflammation of local tissue, which may ultimately lead to a perforated nasal septum. Drug injection has its fair share of adverse effects, such as contracting hepatitis C or HIV, abscesses, gangrene, and cellulitis.
Addiction is the dependence on a drug formed after consistent drug use, especially in high dosage. Klonopin addiction is especially dangerous due to the difficulty of quitting and the side effects tied to it. There are two ways to look at addiction: the psychological form and the physical form. The physical body may develop reliance or dependence on a drug like Klonopin, such that its balance and function depend on the presence of the drug. This is why people who try to quit Klonopin the cold turkey way suffer from nausea and headaches.
This is a natural response or revolt by the body to a significant deficiency of the substance. The psychological aspect of addiction is the feelings you attach to the use of the drug. Benzodiazepines create a feeling of euphoria. This is why abuse of the drug is often associated with an excellent calming feeling. As life is, when stressful situations occur, users of the drug believe that they can only achieve happiness by taking the drug. This is the leading reason why sedatives and other prescription drugs like Klonopin get misused.
Causes of Klonopin Addiction
Addiction to Clonazepam can form with or without a prescription. Most Klonopin addicts start using the drug as a doctor’s prescription to manage anxiety. Even with a prescription, misuse of the drug can easily cause addiction. Unfortunately, many people believe that drugs prescribed by medical practitioners are potentially harmless and can be taken in any dosage. This is incorrect. Misuse of drugs, even those prescribed by a doctor, can have dangerous consequences, including addiction. You develop an addiction as the dosage and frequency of administration increases beyond a prescription.
Due to the drug’s nature, it is also possible to strictly follow the doctor’s prescription and still develop drug dependence. Although not common, other medications or allergies may poorly combine with clonazepam and induce a “high,” which gets you hooked. Another cause of addiction to clonazepam is the introduction of drug use by people who are already misusing it. Klonopin can be acquired through patients with a prescription or professionals who work at drug stores or pharmaceutical industries. This illegal acquirement of Klonopin heavily fuels its addiction and abuse in the country.
Side Effects of Klonopin
There are several side effects associated with misuse of Klonopin, in addition to the pleasurable short-term “high.” Some of the side effects reported by Klonopin users include:
- Unsteady gait
- Blurry vision
- Joint and muscle pain
- Increased urge to urinate
- Decreased libido
- Shortness of breath and difficulty in breathing
- Difficulty in focusing attention on a task
- Suicidal ideation caused by depression
- Deterioration of memory
- Cases of dementia in aging Klonopin users
There are also numerous long-term consequences of misusing Klonopin, including:
- Increased possibility of falling or accidents
- Neglect of duties and professional responsibilities. This is why a large number of Klonopin addicts are unemployed.
- Increased risk of violent acts, such as stealing and fights
- Significant risk of financial struggle due to arrests and other legal issues
Klonopin Risk Factors
Overdose is the most significant risk of abusing Klonopin. Many factors increase the risk of a Klonopin overdose. Naturally, the body will develop tolerance to the drug after continued regular use for an extended period. Users who have developed tolerance to Klonopin are at more risk of overdosing in hopes of attaining the same “high.” Taking more of the drug only amplifies the adverse effects of taking it.
Another surefire way of getting adverse effects from Klonopin is polysubstance abuse. This is the practice of mixing benzodiazepines like Klonopin with substances like alcohol or opioids. When taken together, the two substances interact in such a way that they yield more deadly effects on the user. In the case of opioids and benzodiazepines, the side effects of respiratory depression and difficulty breathing are intensified.
Treating Klonopin Addiction
Fortunately, there are numerous treatment options for clonazepam addiction. No matter where you live, there is likely a rehab facility accessible to you. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer a drug rehab program to help you safely recover from substance use disorders. Our team of professionals is well equipped and qualified to assist you in identifying the best treatment option for your needs.
Despite the wide range of treatment options, all addiction treatments, particularly for Klonopin, begin with overcoming withdrawal symptoms. You will also be ushered into a detoxification program. Overcoming withdrawal is by far the most challenging part for most patients. This is due to the natural side effects of reducing the dosage of Klonopin or completely cutting off usage of the drug. The detoxification step is also a vital part of the rehabilitation process.
According to the Citizens Commission on Human Rights International, cutting down on Klonopin dosage will lead to painful and debilitating withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms occur as the body naturally rebels against the sudden shortage or absence of a substance that it has become highly dependent on. Such symptoms may include:
- Spasms and muscle cramping
- Terrible hallucinations
- Sudden weight loss
- Elevated blood pressure and pulse rate
These symptoms kick in immediately when you stop the intake of Klonopin and may be more adverse if the intake had gone too far.
Best Treatment Options
Once you have detoxed Klonopin from your body, you can progress to the next stages of the rehabilitation process. Several settings can be used to address the psychological and behavioral issues before you can fully recover from Klonopin misuse disorders.
You can opt to go for hospital-based inpatient programs for drug addiction. Such programs are focused on providing intensive medical treatment for health issues like addiction. They are run by medical and addiction professionals in a hospital. These are ideal if you are looking for short programs that last only a couple of weeks.
On the other hand, residential treatment programs are long-term and last for about one to three months. They are offered in a dorm-like setting. Since they are offered in a residential setting, the programs may include equine therapy and yoga. Also included in the residential treatment programs are recreational activities for the recoverees.
Another viable treatment option for Klonopin addiction are therapeutic communities. These organized groups help drug addicts overcome their addictions and also go further to help them develop life skills. These skills often come in handy after the end of the treatment process. In the therapeutic communities, treatment programs may last much longer than in the residential treatment setting. Treatment may go for as long as a year or even longer.
Since most Klonopin addictions grow from an effective treatment for mental health disorders, such as panic and anxiety, it is common for addiction treatment programs to include treatment for anxiety and other mental disorders. These dual diagnosis programs put effort into treating addiction and co-occurring mental health issues like depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder. We also offer an aftercare program after completing rehab. This is to help prevent recovered individuals from relapsing. Psychotherapy is a popular type of aftercare typically held for one hour once or twice a week. Another great way of preventing relapse is to sign up for a sober living home.
What makes sober living homes more effective are their house rules that include abstaining from substance use, attending recovery meetings, and, most importantly, abiding by a curfew. These rules help overcome the urge and temptation of getting back to Klonopin misuse.
Why Quitting Klonopin Cold Turkey Is Dangerous
As much as you are keen on quitting a Klonopin addiction, do not attempt doing it on your own. Cutting back on drug use may lead to potentially life-threatening side effects, such as seizures. The withdrawal syndrome associated with quitting Klonopin requires professional help. Consult medical and addiction professionals before attempting to stop the intake of a drug your body has become dependent on. The tapering approach taken by professionals is the most effective method of avoiding or minimizing withdrawal effects.