Klonopin Abuse & Addiction Symptoms, Signs, Causes & Effects

Klonopin addiction can rob you of your health, your dignity, and your hope for a better tomorrow. At Blue Ridge Mountain Recovery Center, you will reconnect with your best self, and begin to build the foundation for a more promising future.

What is Klonopin Abuse

 Learn More About Klonopin Abuse

Klonopin also known as “K-pin” or “clonazepam” is a benzodiazepine drug that has sedative, hypnotic, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant and muscle relaxant properties effecting the central nervous system of the body. Generally considered a long-acting benzodiazepine, as opposed to Ativan, a fast-acting agent, with peak therapeutic levels occurring one to four hours after oral administration. Klonopin is highly effective in managing anxiety disorders but, if taken longer than four weeks, can cause serious dependence and withdrawal syndromes.

Klonopin, like other benzodiazepines, causes intense feelings of relaxation and euphoria in users by slowing the activity of the brain. It is these pleasurable feelings leading to Klonopin abuse and addiction among users. Many people abuse Klonopin in order to combat the anxiety and irritation associated with abuse of stimulants such as meth or cocaine. The central nervous system depressing effects of Klonopin are strengthened by the consumption of alcohol. Many individuals who are addicted to Klonopin combine alcohol with clonazepam to increase the effects, despite the very real risk of overdose leading to complications including coma and death. Poly-substance abuse, the abuse of one or more substances, can lead to devastating consequences, such as accidental overdose and multi-organ failure. Benzodiazepines have been shown to cause both psychological and physical dependence.

Prescription medication abuse, or the practice of taking medication in a way that is different than what has been prescribed by the doctor, is on the rise. Many people begin to take Klonopin for relief from anxiety symptoms and find that they need more and higher doses of the medication to achieve the same level of relaxation.

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines is a growing problem in the United States and can lead to serious interpersonal complications, such as job loss, interpersonal relationship strain, poor scholastic performance, and social isolation. Proper inpatient detoxification and management of the addiction is necessary for recovery from Klonopin abuse.

Statistics

Statistics on Klonopin Abuse

Statistics for Klonopin addiction are not widely known, however there is a wealth of information about abuse of benzodiazepines. Approximately 95% of individuals admitted for treatment of benzodiazepines are poly-substance abusers. In 2006, SAMHSA conducted a study of nationwide emergency rooms and discovered that sedative-hypnotics were the most frequently implicated prescription drug in emergency room visits. Clonazepam was the second-most often implicated benzodiazepine in this study. It’s very clear that Klonopin abuse and addiction is a serious, rapidly expanding problem in the United States.

Causes

Causes of Klonopin Abuse & Addiction

The likelihood an individual will develop a Klonopin addiction is quite high as the drug is addictive psychologically and physically. The precise cause for Klonopin addiction is likely a combination of a number of factors. These include:

Genetic: Individuals who have a first degree relative, such as a parent, who are addicted to substances, including clonazepam are at a higher risk for developing an addiction later in life.

Brain Chemistry: Klonopin primary mechanism of action is the enhancement of the GABA receptors in the brain as well as decreasing the utilization of serotonin, a neurotransmitter in the brain. It has been postulated that individuals whose brain is lacking in GAMA receptors may use benzodiazepines in order to correct that deficiency.

Environmental: Individuals who grow up in a household where addiction is present learn through modeling that substance use and abuse is a normal coping mechanism and may not be taught more constructive ways to cope with stresses in life. In addition, many individuals may self-medicate with Klonopin to cope with significant trauma or depression.

Psychological: As benzodiazepine addiction is closely linked to the abuse of other substances, individuals who are already addicted to one or more substances may abuse benzodiazepines like Klonopin to enhance the positive effects or decrease the negative effects of other substances. In addition, as Klonopin is often used to manage anxiety disorders, those who are prescribed benzodiazepines to manage anxiety without learning proper coping mechanisms may be at a greater risk for developing physical and psychological addiction to these drugs.

Co-Occurring Disorders

Co-Occurring Disorders and the Complexity of Klonopin Addiction

Most addiction disorders have a co-occurring disorder. These may include:

  • Depressive disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Stimulant abuse
  • Poly-substance abuse
  • Panic disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder

Signs & Symptoms

Signs and Symptoms of Klonopin Abuse

There exist a multitude of symptoms that may accompany clonazepam abuse and addiction. These symptoms may include:

Mood symptoms:

  • Irritability
  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Anxiety
  • Panic attacks

Behavioral symptoms:

  • Paradoxical reactions such as increased agitation
  • “Doctor shopping” or visiting multiple doctors to obtain greater quantities of Klonopin
  • Using Klonopin despite the negative consequences it has caused
  • Taking Klonopin for a longer period than prescribed
  • Obsessive drug-seeking behavior
  • Using Klonopin for non-medical reasons
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of motivation
  • Loss of personal relationships
  • Drowsiness
  • Restlessness
  • Relaxation
  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Decrease in engaging in once-pleasurable activities

Physical symptoms:

  • Tachycardia
  • Tolerance
  • Numbness in extremities
  • Impairment in balance and motor coordination
  • Tingling
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Sensitivity to sights and sounds
  • Increase in sweating
  • Dizziness
  • Muscle tension
  • Loss of muscle coordination
  • Increased salivation
  • Increased urination
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Seizures
  • Rashes or hives
  • Difficulty breathing

Psychological symptoms:

  • Auditory hallucinations
  • Personality changes
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Cognitive challenges
  • Difficulty thinking
  • Craving the drug
  • Intense preoccupation with using or obtaining clonazepam
  • Psychosis

Effects

Effects of Klonopin Addiction

When used as prescribed, Klonopin can be a very effective medication. However, like all benzodiazepines, clonazepam runs the risk for addiction and other serious effects. These effects include:

  • Worsening depression
  • Interpersonal problems
  • Job loss
  • Mounting legal problems
  • Divorce
  • Insomnia
  • Financial problems
  • Psychosis
  • Disinhibition
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Liver damage
  • Personality changes
  • Seizures
  • Klonopin tolerance
  • Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome
  • Overdose

Withdrawal

Withdrawal Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction

Benzodiazepines are generally very effective at managing epilepsy and anxiety disorders, but after long-term use, an individual may become tolerant and physically dependent upon the drug. Abrupt cessation of Klonopin usage after a long period of taking the drug can lead to serious withdrawal symptoms, which is why clonazepam should be tapered down slowly under the care of a medical professional. Do not attempt to stop using Klonopin alone.

Withdrawal symptoms from Klonopin will vary among addicts based upon length of abuse, dosage strength, frequency of use, and the types of other substances being abused. Withdrawal symptoms can be life-threatening and may include:

  • Psychosis
  • Dysphoric manifestations
  • Seizures
  • Panic disorder
  • Muscle craps
  • Tremors
  • Aggressiveness
  • Anxiety
  • Hallucinations
  • Irritability
  • Status epilepticus – a life-threatening condition in which the brain is in a constant state of seizure activity

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– Emily