Generic medication clonazepam is marketed under the brand name Klonopin. This medication belongs to the benzodiazepines class of drugs. Klonopin is typically prescribed as a treatment of mental health disorders like alcohol withdrawal, seizures, panic, and anxiety. Clonazepam is also one of the most abused prescription medicines. Many users misuse Klonopin in an attempt to experience its sedative effects of euphoria and relaxation. Benzos’ primary mechanism of action is by increasing the neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. This slows electrical signaling and produces a calming effect on the brain. This sedative effect of the drug makes it an abused drug of choice.
Clonazepam is usually prescribed for short-term medications, usually two or three weeks and at maximum, 12 months. This limitation is because prolonged use of Klonopin can result in the development of drug dependence and addiction. After an extended period of use, dependence leads to withdrawal symptoms once you try quitting the drug. Like other Central Nervous System (CNS) depressants, Clonazepam is abused for its anxiolytic and sedative feelings.
Despite concerns about the drug’s high potential for addiction, Klonopin is still prescribed because of its efficacy in managing and treating anxiety and panic disorders. Other conditions treated with clonazepam medications include restless leg syndrome, bipolar disorder, insomnia, and epilepsy. These ailments are the reason Klonopin medications are highly sought out in the country. Statistics indicate that about 50 million adults above the age of 18 suffer from sleep-related disorders like insomnia. Records also show that another 40 million people in the U.S are affected by anxiety disorders.
The continued use of Klonopin medication, despite its adverse effects, can be explained by the sheer volume of individuals relying on it to treat their crippling disorders. Klonopin exhibits physically and psychologically damaging long-term side effects. Abuse of Klonopin becomes even more problematic when taken in conjunction with other depressants or sedative drugs like opioids or alcohol.
When taken in conjunction with other substances, Klonopin is used to intensify or alleviate the high of the other primary abuse drugs of choice. It is common for users to take Clonazepam together with amphetamines or cocaine. In some cases, Klonopin will be taken together with alcohol. This is not only dangerous but can also yield life-threatening side effects. The grave consequences of mixing two CNS depressants with sedative effects may include slowed heart rate and a suppressed respiratory system. This significantly hampers the delivery of oxygen to the bloodstream and may eventually lead to organ damage followed by death.
The addictive nature of Clonazepam can easily lead to withdrawal syndrome if you suddenly cut down on the dosage of the drug. One of the characteristics that cut across all benzodiazepines is their tendency to form severe withdrawal symptoms. Without medical monitoring and care, these withdrawal symptoms can be fatal. The safest way to manage a withdrawal syndrome is to seek professional help when beginning your sobriety journey. This is especially important when recovering from Klonopin use disorders. We offer drug rehab programs in our recovery centers.
By binding to GABA receptors, Klonopin, like other benzos, affects the neurotransmitter responsible for regulating fear, stress, and anxiety. GABA can achieve this regulation by blocking the transmission of feelings of worry via nerve impulses. The brain adapts to the Klonopin’s presence by producing less of its natural GABA and relies more on the drug’s artificial stimulation. This is why the body experiences a crash when there is a significantly less amount of the drug in the brain to stimulate GABA production. This shortage is usually caused by intentional quitting use of the medicine or cutting down on the dosage.
Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
Some of the physical withdrawal symptoms of Klonopin abuse include:
- Dilated pupils
- Blurry vision
- Chest pain
- Dry mouth
- Increased sensitivity
- Muscle spasms
- Gastrointestinal distress such as diarrhea, nausea, and vomiting
Prolonged abuse of clonazepam can also result in dangerous psychological symptoms. Most of these symptoms appear immediately you quit or cut down on Klonopin consumption. The first stage of withdrawal is characterized by terrible physical and psychological symptoms:
- Dissociative disorder
- Panic attacks
- Mood swings
- Rebound insomnia
- Rebound anxiety
Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline
There is no defined sequence or timeline through which the withdrawal symptoms should occur. How any individual experiences the withdrawal symptoms is dependent on several factors:
- Amount of Klonopin intake
- Duration of abuse
- Frequency of abuse
- Mode of Klonopin abuse
- Polydrug use
- Underlying health disorders
Benzodiazepine withdrawals typically occur in three phases. Each phase has an estimated timeline. We highly discourage you from attempting to quit Klonopin on your own. Seeking professional addiction helps ensure that withdrawal occurs under the watch of a medical professional. The three withdrawal phases include the following:
Immediate or Early Withdrawal
Rebound symptoms, also called immediate withdrawal symptoms, occur shortly after you significantly reduce the amount of Klonopin intake. The withdrawal symptoms you experience will depend on the abused drug’s half-life. Long-acting drugs will typically have withdrawal symptoms that come later on than those from a short-acting drug. During this immediate phase, it is common to notice the health disorder symptoms being treated with Klonopin start to reappear. This is why this phase is called the rebound stage. Without Klonopin, the symptoms of panic and anxiety come back stronger than before. We apply other medications and a tapering approach to help ease the withdrawal symptoms.
This is the phase that immediately follows the early withdrawal phase. The acute withdrawal symptoms kick in within a few days of reducing Klonopin intake. Depending on the severity of abuse, this phase may last five to 30 days. In extreme cases of substance use disorders, acute withdrawal may last for several months. The majority of withdrawal symptoms occur in this phase. According to users who have been through this recovery path, acute withdrawal is the most difficult phase of the three. During this stage, close medical monitoring is paramount. Most problematic symptoms occur during the acute withdrawal phase.
Fewer side effects characterize this third phase. Most of the withdrawal symptoms usually subside during the previous phase. However, it is still possible to experience some lingering side effects that may not occur in the acute withdrawal phase. According to the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, almost a quarter of prolonged users of benzodiazepines experience withdrawal symptoms lasting a year or longer. The protracted withdrawal phase is often characterized by post-acute withdrawal symptoms that may include
- Mood swings
- Poor concentration
- Reduced libido
Despite being less severe than in the other phases, these symptoms can still significantly affect the quality of your life. Some of these symptoms can be troubling, especially when they appear without prior warning. At Granite Recovery Centers, we offer a range of programs like the detox program that may help you manage these sources of distress and significantly improve your life quality.
Managing Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
A dedicated recovery facility is the safest place to withdraw from a Klonopin addiction. In such a facility, substance abuse and addiction professionals ensure the process of recovery is quicker and safer for you or your loved ones. Constant medical monitoring is vital since the withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and even life-threatening. Some of the severe withdrawal symptoms include seizures and convulsions. The feelings of discomfort experienced during the withdrawal and detox process can be eased using medications. This is only possible when you enroll in a recovery facility.
Rebound symptoms like anxiety and depression can be managed with antidepressants and beta-blockers prescriptions. If you are under ongoing treatment for a condition that requires a prescription of Klonopin, you might be given an alternative benzodiazepine or substitute z-drug. Other treatment methods like mindfulness and yoga have proven to be effective in managing Klonopin withdrawal symptoms.
Klonopin Detox Process
Every treatment program offered in our recovery facilities has to start with a detoxification process. Detox helps the body get rid of the abused drug in the body. Detox has also proved to help people manage their withdrawal symptoms and recover from acute intoxication. In our detox program, we provide support and medical interventions to help you stay safe and comfortable as your body eliminates any traces of the misused substance.
The detox process can be broken into three main components:
To offer holistic and evidence-based recovery options, we have to evaluate you comprehensively. This is often to identify the underlying motivation for drug abuse and any co-occurring physical or mental health issues. The evaluation will include screening for any history of drug abuse as well as your overall health. The findings in this evaluation will be used to inform our recommendation for individualized treatment options.
This is the stage where most of the actual detoxification happens. We keep you under the close watch of a team of qualified medical practitioners while allowing your body time to get rid of Klonopin. In this process, we expect your body to rebel against the absence of a substance it had already developed a dependence on. Depending on the withdrawal symptoms exhibited, we may provide medications to help reduce the withdrawal symptoms.
Transition into Treatment
Detox on its own is not a form of treatment but a crucial part of the recovery process. In this last stage of the detox process, you will be prepared for the next steps in your journey towards sobriety. Once you have successfully completed the detoxification, you will have to enroll in a formal treatment program. We will help you select an ideal treatment option for you or your loved one.
Why Detoxing at Home Can be Dangerous
Klonopin withdrawal is usually associated with serious health risks. This is why it is never a good idea to detox at home. When detoxing at home, there is a likelihood of developing severe withdrawal symptoms and complications like anxiety, depression, and even life-threatening seizures. When you experience such complications at home, you put yourself at risk since you don’t have immediate medical care access. At recovery facilities, the environment and conditions have been made to minimize the chances of relapsing. When you are at home, you may find it hard to tolerate the painful withdrawal symptoms and fall back to a relapse. This is why we highly recommend medical detox for people struggling with substance use disorders.
Duration of the Detox Process
According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, long-term users of Klonopin and other benzos may not experience any withdrawal symptoms for the first week after quitting the drug. However, the second week is generally characterized by increased withdrawal symptoms, which gradually decrease over the next two weeks — the withdrawal symptoms peak on the second week. There are several factors that affect the length of the detox process. The duration varies from one recoveree to another.
This variation is often because of the body’s unique physical make up and response to treatment. The length of detox is also affected by concurrent use of multiple drugs, duration of abuse, and amount of drug abuse. If you have been using high doses of benzodiazepines for extended periods, you are at a higher risk of developing severe withdrawal syndrome characterized by delirium and seizures.
Medically Assisted Detox
Dose tapering is the safest and most effective approach during Klonopin detox. It makes the withdrawal symptoms more manageable and bearable. Tapering generally involves a gradual reduction of the amount of Klonopin intake under a medical practitioner’s supervision. Other long-acting benzos alternatives like diazepam may be prescribed to initiate the tapering approach. These are other medications that may be used in the detox process:
- Propranolol and clonidine help with withdrawal symptoms such as rapid breathing and heart rate.
- Phenobarbital is used appropriately as a substitute for benzodiazepines. It can be prescribed in instances where the medical professionals find it necessary to discontinue usage of benzos.
- Valproate and carbamazepine are used as anticonvulsant medication. They are especially effective in cases of mild Klonopin addiction.