Klonopin is the brand name for a substance called clonazepam, belonging to the benzodiazepine group of drugs. FDA-approved in 1975, Klonopin is an anti-anxiety medication used in the short-term treatment of anxiety and panic disorders, and in preventing some types of seizure disorders. As a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, Klonopin relaxes the brain and nerves
As a Schedule IV drug, categorized under the Controlled Substance Act, Klonopin is considered to have ‘low abuse potential, low risk of dependence and addiction but does carry risks’.
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin belongs to the benzodiazepines family of drugs. Klonopin tablets have been prescribed for treating a range of stress and anxiety disorders, epilepsy, seizures, and convulsions.
Today, benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed widely across the United States and can provide a lifeline for individuals living with debilitating conditions. Klonopin slows the central nervous system (CNS) by binding to the GABA receptors in the brain. This slows down heart rate, reduces blood pressure, and calms emotional tumult. This can result in feelings of calm and relief.
People living with an anxiety or panic disorder, and those with conditions that cause seizures, may find Klonopin and other benzodiazepines extremely helpful. However, Klonopin brings risks of dependency for the user. The calming effects of this sedating drug bring a risk of abuse, even in individuals who use it with a legitimate prescription.
How is It Used?
Benzodiazepines function by activating the release of GABA, a naturally produced neurotransmitter. Our brains produce GABA in moments of stress to counteract the adrenaline which is increasing under these conditions. GABA is known as an ‘inhibitory neurotransmitter’ as it interrupts chemical messages and inhibits the stimulation of brain nerve cells.
Individuals living with conditions including insomnia, depression, and panic attacks, may not be producing enough GABA naturally; this is where benzodiazepines can prove very effective. Sometimes Klonopin is prescribed for conditions like Bipolar Disorder to ease symptoms such as sleep problems or racing thoughts. Additionally, Klonopin can be prescribed for epilepsy and seizures.
What are Controlled Substances?
In the 1970s, during the ‘War on Drugs’, the United States introduced the Controlled Substances Act. This was in an effort to reduce the damage sweeping across the country at the hands of the illegal drug trade. The aim of this act, as initiated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, was to prevent the harm caused by illicit production, trafficking, and sale of drugs that carry a risk of abuse.
The Controlled Substances Act did not set out to eradicate all illegal drug use. Instead, it created a standardized set of guidelines to distinguish which substances had medical use, which carried a high risk of abuse, and which should incur a criminal charge if under possession.
The scheduling has five categories that depend on the drug’s capacity for medical use and the drug’s potential for abuse or addiction. You can learn more about controlled substances on the Drug Enforcement Administration website.
Is Klonopin a Controlled Substance?
Klonopin has been categorized as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This means it has a low potential for abuse and dependency, but it can still incur harm and addiction. To be classified as a Schedule IV controlled substance, it must fit specific criteria.
Schedule IV Controlled Substances
- The substance has a lower potential for abuse when compared to Schedule III substances.
- The substance has justified and accepted medical purposes in the United States.
- Misuse of this substance could lead to either psychological or physical dependence.
Addiction to Prescription Drugs
There is a common misconception that substance use disorders stem from recreational or illegal drug taking. Unfortunately, taking substances on a legitimate prescription can lead to misuse, abuse, and addiction. Some 2020 research by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that 5.8% – approximately 16.1 million individuals – reported having misused prescription psychotherapeutic drugs in the 12 months prior to asking.
Klonopin is a benzodiazepine which is a category of drugs that bring a considerable risk of addiction. The continuous presence of Klonopin can alter the brain’s structure as it becomes reliant on the substance. It’s possible to develop a psychological or physical addiction to the drug.
Some of the common side effects of Klonopin include:
- Slowed cognition
- Loss of coordination
- Reduced sex drive
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Heaviness or numbness in arms and legs
- Slowed reactions
- Sleep changes
We know that Klonopin addiction can begin even when it’s prescribed by a doctor, but additionally, some people use prescription drugs in a recreational setting. It is common for Klonopin to be combined with other substances including alcohol and opioids, bringing an increased risk of overdose to the user. SAMHSA research found in 2011 that upwards of 61,000 emergency room admissions were related to Klonopin, and an additional 25,000 were related to Klonopin combined with alcohol.
As with most substances, an addiction can develop over time and without the person being aware of what is happening. Sometimes the addiction has fully taken hold before it’s recognized by the individual and those around them.
If you or someone you know is prescribed Klonopin, it’s crucial to be aware of the possible risks. If you have a family history or predisposition to addiction, it’s important you make your healthcare provider aware of this. Even individuals using a legitimate prescription can develop a Klonopin dependence; an increased tolerance is both an indicator and a leading factor in benzodiazepine addiction.
There are some serious side effects of Klonopin, which can be withdrawal symptoms or result of high levels of the substance in the system. The most dangerous of these negative impacts include respiratory depression, seizures, and suicidal thoughts.
Some common signs of Klonopin abuse include the following:
Physical Dependence Symptoms
- Increased heart rate
- Numbness in hands and feet
- Gastrointestinal issues
- Increased sensitivity
- Skin rashes
- Breathing issues
- Respiratory depression
Behavioral Dependence Symptoms
- Visiting multiple doctors for prescriptions
- Using Klonopin for recreational purposes
- Isolating from friends and family members
- Lack of interest in things previously enjoyed
- Being preoccupied with finding and obtaining drugs
- Sleep problems
Psychological Dependence Symptoms
- Preoccupation with using Klonopin
- Strong cravings to use Klonopin
- Memory issues
- Personality changes
- Suicidal ideation
Getting Help for Prescription Drug Misuse
Living with substance abuse issues is a lonely existence, but help is available and a brighter future is possible. To truly overcome any addiction, it’s imperative to go to the root of the problem. Many people engage in drug taking to manage difficult emotions or experiences, and this is a form of self-medication.
Without comprehensive addiction treatment to manage these underlying emotions, there is a high risk of falling back into substances and relapsing. A successful treatment process will focus on understanding the disorder, recognizing triggers, managing difficult emotions, and healthy life choices.
Addiction treatment starts with detox. This is where all traces of the drug and the toxins are removed from the body. It is highly recommended that this process is done under supervision to ensure your safety. This way, if any medical emergency should occur, your doctor can intervene with immediate treatment help. Following detox, you are likely to be offered a combination of individual, group therapy, and alternative therapies to move forward in your recovery journey.
Klonopin Withdrawal Process
Klonopin withdrawal is a complex process and some individuals may experience some distressing symptoms. Choosing a comprehensive treatment placement will ensure you are monitored and cared for throughout your detox.
Your doctors and care staff will support you by tapering off Klonopin to reduce the levels of the substance in your system at a steady rate. This enables the body to balance out as it gets used to functioning without the presence of drugs.
Every detox is different, but some common withdrawal symptoms you may experience include the following:
- Tremors and shakes
- Sleep problems
- Excessive perspiration
- Coordination problems
- Muscle and joint pain
- Gastrointestinal problems
- Fluctuating mood
- Concentration difficulties
In addition to medical support and interventions, psychological support should be offered to you during this time. This is a crucial step in getting you through detox and onto the next phase of the treatment process: tackling the underlying causes of addiction. A holistic approach to recovery that takes your full mental and physical health into consideration is the most effective form of treatment and the surest way to sustained sobriety.
Alina Lodge Recovery Center
At Alina Lodge, we are committed to finding and tailoring a treatment program that serves you and your circumstances best. We see substance abuse as a symptom of wider mental health issues, so we take a holistic view of treatment and look deeply at the root of your condition.
We are proud to be amongst the top recovery centers in the United States and we work hard to ensure our service is of the highest quality. We employ a variety of therapies including EMDR and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), in addition to Relapse Prevention Therapy and Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention. We are here to help you overcome drug abuse and live a healthy, fulfilling life.
If you, or a loved one, are living with a Klonopin addiction and are ready to move forward with your recovery, Alina Lodge can help. We offer a 28-day minimum treatment placement tailored to your needs at our center in New Jersey. We understand that dependency is unique, so your addiction treatment should reflect that.
We take into consideration the strain addiction can put on the individual, but also on their friends and family. For this reason, we offer family therapy, enabling loved ones to take an active and empowered role in recovery. Get in touch with us today to discuss addiction treatment options. With the support of our team, we are confident you can find a better future.