When it comes to prescription drug addictions, we hear a lot about opioids like Hydrocodone, Oxy, and Fentanyl. After all, there’s an epidemic sweeping the country. These drugs were responsible for more than 30,000 overdose deaths in 2016 alone. It’s no wonder they make headlines. We also hear horror stories about Xanax and Valium. However, there is another highly addictive script we should all be wary of. It’s called Klonopin.
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Klonopin may not get a lot of coverage in the news, but it is still one of the most dangerous and widely abused prescription pills in the United States. In fact, the most current data available reports that almost 24 million prescriptions were written for this medication in 2015. This is up from just 12 million in 2005. If you are among the millions of Americans using this prescription tranquilizer, beware. So, what is Klonopin? What is that makes it such a terrifying substance of abuse? Let’s discuss this drug in greater depth. If you’re experimenting with it, you should have all the facts. If you’re addicted, you’re going to need help to quit.
What Is Clonazepam?
Klonopin is the brand name for a generic prescription drug called “Clonazepam.” We will use these two words interchangeably in this article. It is classified as an anti-epileptic drug used to treat seizures, panic attacks, and anxiety. It is also considered a central nervous system (or CNS) depressant. It is administered orally in pill form. Like Valium and Xanax, Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine. Benzos interact with the brain by enhancing the gamma-aminobutyric acid neurotransmitter, more mercifully known as “GABA.” GABA’s main function is to inhibit particular functions of the brain. This helps reduce nerve activity. It slows down over-activity and soothes the mind. The rapid firing of neurons in the brain is what often leads to seizures and panic attacks. Those who have epilepsy or seizure disorders need an increase in GABA production. It also helps quiet the feeling of anxiety for those who suffer from panic attacks, PTSD, and other anxiety disorders. Plus, as a CNS depressant, this drug slows down the brain and calms the central nervous system. This produces a tranquilizing effect.
What’s the Difference Between Klonopin and Xanax?
Like other benzos, Clonazepam and Xanax both have a similar effect on the body. These are among the most commonly abused benzos. They’re both CNS depressants that interact with the neurotransmitter GABA. They both reduce symptoms of anxiety. And, both produce a calming effect that can help the body slow down a bit. Despite their similarities, though, they’re generally prescribed to treat different conditions. Klonopin, for instance, is mostly used to combat panic attacks and seizures. Xanax, on the other hand, is primarily used to treat anxiety. However, both medications are often prescribed by doctors to treat insomnia. Also, these drugs affect the body differently in terms of half-life. Xanax is fast-acting. It is released into the bloodstream almost immediately. And, the body starts to push it out of your system in about one to two hours. The medicine’s effects are intense and short-lived. Usually, the drug starts to wear off in about four to six hours. Klonopin is slower acting than Xanax and it is not as powerful. It requires more time for the drug to take effect because the half-life is greater. This means it takes about four hours for the body to start processing it out of your system. As a result, the lingering effects of the drug are much longer. Users say they feel drugged for up to 12 hours.
Zombies and Blackouts: The Klonopin High
Many people abuse Clonazepam. They either misuse their own prescribed medication, take other people’s, or they buy it on the street. Those who love this drug say they take it because it makes them feel fantastic. The high from popping Klonopin is similar to being intoxicated on alcohol, stoned on weed, or blissfully sedated. It is very calming, soothing, and relaxing. As with most other benzodiazepines, the Klonopin high results from the slowing of internal functions. Breathing, coordination, mental processes, and perception of the world all slacken to a snail’s pace. For some, this can be an enjoyable experience. But, if you’re looking to experience the kind of euphoria produced by opioids or party drugs, Klonopin is bound to disappoint. The high from Clonazepam has been described as feeling a mild to moderate sedation. This is why most people take a handful of pills – because they want to maximize their pleasure. While many enjoy the Klonopin high, others say they hate the way it makes them feel. Many people say it puts them into a zombie-like state. They feel as if they are paralyzed and can’t move. Others have said it makes it feel like their brain is on fire or they are being electrocuted. It also causes many users to blackout. Doesn’t sound like much fun, does it?
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The Klonopin And Alcohol Cocktail: A Deadly Combo
Many people who abuse this drug mix it with other drugs, especially alcohol. The effects of this benzo are intensified by mixing it with other substances, which is why users like to do it. However, we should mention that mixing this drug with alcohol, in particular, can be extremely dangerous. Both substances are CNS depressants. This lowers the functioning of essential processes like breathing and heart regulation. Clonazepam slows down the system. Alcohol slows down the system. When mixed, they work together to increase this process of slowing down. This means you could stop breathing or your heart could stop beating. If you are taking Clonazepam for kicks, stay away from the alcohol. Mixing these two substances together means taking a gamble with your life.
Proper Doses of Clonazepam
Following your doctor’s exact orders when taking Klonopin is critical. Even the slightest change in dosage can result in physical dependency, which will send you down a road you don’t want to go down. (We’ll talk more about Clonazepam addiction in a bit). The general Clonazepam dosage guidelines are as follows: For seizures – Adults and children 10 or older will likely first receive 0.5-milligram doses three times a day. Your doctor might decide to adjust this dose as they see fit to 1 mg or 2 mg pills. More often than not, doses won’t exceed more than 20 mg a day. (This is a high dose). For panic disorders – Dosage for adults will start with 0.25 mg twice a day. Your doctor, once again, may change your dose depending on your condition. In most cases, it won’t be any more than 4 mg per day. If you’ve missed a dose, you should take it as soon as you can, but do not double dose. If it’s almost time for your next dose, just wait. It’s important that you do not double dose this medication. Doing so may increase the risk of dependency, adverse effects, and eventual Klonopin addiction. People who take Clonazepam to get high are at the greatest risk for overdose. Those who take the drug recreationally don’t know how much is too much. They end up taking way more than they should. We want to remind you that you should only take this drug if it has been prescribed by a doctor for a legitimate medical condition.
What Are The Klonopin Side Effects?
Popping a few of these pills comes with an extensive list of side effects. These can be extremely intense and may even lead to permanent physical damage. Here is a long list of the Clonazepam side effects:
- Difficulty swallowing
- Loss in sexual desire and ability
- Swelling around the lips, face, tongue, and eyes
- Heavier bleeding
- Irritated skin
- Double vision
- Loss of taste
- Stomach pain
- Tunnel vision
- Hair loss
- Feeling like you or your surroundings are constantly moving
- Poor coordination
- Loss of voice
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble concentrating
- Bloody urine
- Muscle aches
- Lower back pain
- Loss of appetite
- Suicidal thoughts
Some of these side effects could be considered a medical emergency. The takeaway from all this? This medication can have some pretty nasty side effects, which will only get worse if you abuse it. Plus, they can be life-threatening. You’re better off if you don’t take the stuff in the first place.
What Are The Long-Term Effects of Klonopin Abuse?
With regard to the long-term impacts of Clonazepam abuse, there’s still quite a bit of research that needs to be performed. After all, it only came onto the market in 1975. Benzodiazepines in general, however, have been the subject of many studies. The long-term side effects of abusing this type of substance can be quite sobering. Multiple studies have found that prolonged benzodiazepine abuse may result in a wide variety of long-term physical and cognitive side effects. These include:
- Impaired reaction time
- Decreased sensory perception
- Slower reasoning
- Damaged visual-spatial cognizance
- Deteriorated short-term and long-term memory
- Weakened judgment
- Poorer information processing
- Compromised immune system
- Heightened risk of mood disorders like depression
- Irreparably altered sleep patterns
- Lack of restraint (psychologically, socially, emotionally, and physically)
- Sexual dysfunction
The most notable long-term side effect of this drug is addiction. Let’s talk about this.
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Is Klonopin Addictive?
Like opioids, benzodiazepines are highly addictive substances. When you take this medication (whether you are using it recreationally or as prescribed by a doctor), Klonopin tolerance will inevitably happen. Before you know it, you will be in the throes of a full-fledged addiction. Let’s go into Clonazepam tolerance in greater depth. This is a powerful substance. When you take a medication like this on a regular basis, your body gets used to it. In the beginning, you only need a little bit of it to feel the tranquilizing effects. Over time, you will get used to the way the drug affects your body. This means you need more to get the same effect you got from the medication in the beginning. If you are taking Klonopin for a legitimate reason, you will begin upping your dose so you can still benefit from the drug. If you are taking it to get high, you will take more to feel the rush you once enjoyed. In the end, anyone who takes Clonazepam for any length of time will experience tolerance. Tolerance leads to addiction.
What Happens if You Get Addicted to Clonazepam?
If you are hooked on Klonopin, you are in trouble. The drug adversely affects the way the mind and body work. Just like many other prescription pills, this medication can have adverse health effects long after you stop taking it. Also, your life will quickly become unmanageable if you abuse tranquilizers. Here are a few examples:
- Your work or school performance will take a hit.
- Your relationships with the people you care about will suffer.
- You will become unreliable and irresponsible.
- You will likely drive under the influence, putting your life and the lives of other drivers in jeopardy.
- You can spend a lot of money on this habit.
- You might put yourself in unsafe situations.
- You are likely to buy this drug illegally, which could lead to a felony arrest.
- You will lose yourself in a haze of sedation to the point that you will become someone you do not recognize.
- You will perform actions and say things you do not remember, which can have detrimental consequences.
To be clear, abusing this drug never leads to a good place.
Celeb Stevie Nicks Talks About Klonopin Addiction
Take a lesson from Fleetwood Mac’s lead singer Stevie Nicks. She calls Klonopin a “horrible, dangerous drug” that is deadlier than coke. In case you didn’t know, Nicks was once hopelessly addicted to cocaine. Ironically, she was prescribed this medication from a psychiatrist who recommended that she use it to stay away from coke. Nicks said Clonazepam made her feel as if “somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.” She also told Newsweek in 2011, “What started happening was that if I didn’t take it, my hands started to shake.” Thankfully, Nicks is now completely drug-free. In this 2001 video, Nicks talks about her addiction to Klonopin:
What You Should Expect From Klonopin Withdrawal
When your body builds a tolerance to a certain substance, it becomes dependent on it to function. Continued use of addictive prescription medications like Clonazepam means you cannot stop taking the stuff on your own – even if you have a desperate desire to do so. If you do quit, you will experience Klonopin withdrawal (also known as “detox” or “detoxification”). You could also be putting your life at risk. Withdrawal is basically your body’s reaction to suddenly stopping the use of an addictive substance. You might think of it as your body’s way of expressing its anger toward you. When you detox, you will experience certain symptoms. To put it mildly, the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal aren’t pretty. In fact, many people like Stevie Nicks consider Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms to be even more unbearable than those of “harder” drugs like heroin. Users going through withdrawal from this benzodiazepine may experience:
- Body aches
- Extreme anxiety
- Panic attacks
- Reduced coordination
- Mental confusion
- A lack of focus and motivation
- Insomnia and sleep disturbances
- Coma or death in some cases
Most people want to know, “How long does Klonopin withdrawal last?” This question is not an easy one to answer. Everybody is different. The length and severity of these symptoms vary from person to person. But, you should know there are two phases to Klonopin withdrawal.
The Two Phases of Clonazepam Withdrawal
Acute Withdrawal Syndrome is the first phase. This lasts from five days to two weeks. During this period, symptoms will be the most unpleasant and even dangerous. Make no mistake about it. You can experience seizures and other health complications when you stop taking this drug. This is why you should never stop taking it without medical supervision. Post-Acute Withdrawal (also known as Protracted Withdrawal Syndrome) is the second phase. This can last anywhere from two weeks to as long as six months. Yes, it can take that long to completely stabilize after prolonged use of this drug. However, with time, symptoms continue to decrease in severity. One of the most common results of stopping the use of Clonazepam is extreme anxiety. This is because the medication stops the brain from producing its own natural anxiety-inhibitors. It takes a while to start producing them again in the absence of a tranquilizer. This feeling of panic often drives users to return to the drug to relieve their anxiety.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay In Your System?
A lot of people want to know how long Clonazepam stays in your system. This is usually because they want to pass a drug test. You should know that drug tests for employers or corrections officers are more sophisticated than ever. The only way to be sure you will pass a drug test is, of course, not to used drugs. But you already knew that! When taking a drug test, you will either give a urine, hair, blood or saliva sample. Luckily, benzodiazepines generally leave the body pretty quickly. This is because they are water-soluble and are quickly flushed out by the water in your body. But, how long it takes any drug to get out of your system depends on a few factors. These include:
- Your overall health
- Your body’s ability to flush toxins (liver function)
- Your metabolism
- How much you have been using
- How long you have been using
- If you have been using other drugs
Nevertheless, here are some basic guidelines when it comes to how long it takes to get Klonopin out of your system: Saliva: Between 18-60 hours Blood: Up to five days Urine: Approximately two weeks to one month Hair: About four to six months You should always assume this benzo is going to get out of your system later rather than sooner.
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What Is It Like To Detox Off Clonazepam Cold Turkey?
Truth be told, you don’t want to know what it’s like to detox from this addictive drug cold turkey. It’s just too painful, unpleasant, and dangerous. This is why professional detoxification is recommended if you want to quit. With medical detox, you will put the withdrawal process in the hands of trained addiction experts. They are skilled at making the process safe and comfortable. During medical detox, you will be monitored and evaluated at a treatment facility or detoxification center by qualified staff members. You will be given medications that will ensure your comfort and safety. Plus, you will be in a safe, secure environment that will support ongoing abstinence.
Recovery From Klonopin Addiction
You may have tried to quit taking this drug on your own many times, only to be unsuccessful. The recovery rate for stopping the use of this benzodiazepine without help is extremely low. Most people have to be navigated through the withdrawal process so they can resist cravings. Also, most people find that they need to go to drug rehab to sustain long-term, ongoing recovery. Reports indicate that the number of people checking themselves into rehab for benzos has increased by almost 300 percent in the last ten years. If you are hooked on this powerful benzodiazepine, get help so you can get your life back on track. Take it from Stevie Nicks, who has expressed continued regret that she wasted so many years of her life in a Clonazepam haze. If you’re taking this drug recreationally, stop now – before the drug grabs you by the soul and won’t let go.
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Byron, Christopher (2011, May). Is This the World’s Deadliest Pill? Retrieved from https://www.thefix.com/content/worlds-most-dangerous-drug?page=all Drugs.com (2016, March). Klonopin vs Xanax – How Are They Different? Retrieved from https://www.drugs.com/answers/klonopin-vs-xanax-3030557.html Mayo Clinic (2017, March). Clonazepam (Oral Route). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/clonazepam-oral-route/side-effects/drg-20072102 MedlinePlus (2017, June). Clonazepam. Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682279.html National Institute on Drug Abuse (2016, Aug.). Misuse of Prescription Drugs: What Are CNS Depressants? Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/research-reports/prescription-drugs/cns-depressants/what-are-cns-depressants National Institute on Drug Abuse (2017, Jan.). Overdose Death Rates. Retrieved from https://www.drugabuse.gov/related-topics/trends-statistics/overdose-death-rates Peart, R.F. (2000, Dec.). The Benzodiazepines. Retrieved from https://www.benzo.org.uk/vot4.htm Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2015, Aug.). Benzodiazepine Abuse Treatment Admissions Have Tripled from 1998 to 2008 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2014, Dec.). The DAWN Report: Benzodiazepines in Combination with Opioid Pain Relievers or Alcohol: Greater Risk of More Serious ED Visit Outcomes. Retrieved from https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014/DAWN-SR192-BenzoCombos-2014.htm
Frequently Asked Questions
What is Klonopin Prescribed to Treat?
Is There Anything I Need to Know About Taking Klonopin?
- Please do not attempt to drive a car or operate heavy machinery until you know how you are affected when taking Klonopin. You may find that it makes you feel dizzy or tired.
- You may find that your anxiety levels improve relatively quickly after you start taking Klonopin. You may feel better within a few days.
- Benzodiazepines can be addictive even when they are being taken properly. Because of this, it is recommended for people to take them for short periods of time. Talk with your doctor about the appropriate length of time for you to be taking Klonopin.
- Do not stop taking Klonopin without talking with your doctor. They may want to wean you off it slowly to decrease the severity of any withdrawal symptoms you might experience.
- Talk with your doctor before taking any type of opioid pain medication, such as Oxycodone or Percocet. Taking these two types of medications together has been linked to serious side effects, some of which can be fatal.
- Always avoid drinking alcohol when taking Klonopin.
How do People Abuse Klonopin?
- Super Valium
It is not uncommon for drug dealers to sell Klonopin at clubs, parties and raves. People will abuse it by mixing it with prescription painkillers, alcohol, hallucinogens or other prescription tranquilizers.