Klonopin (Clonazepam) Addiction Abuse Symptoms and Warning Signs

This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 23rd 2021

Content Overview

Abuse of Klonopin can have devastating consequences for many aspects of your life; your health, relationships, and finances can all be negatively affected if Klonopin abuse turns into Klonopin addiction. It is therefore vital that you learn to spot the signs and symptoms to prevent your life from spiralling out of control.

If you have been prescribed Klonopin for the treatment of anxiety or seizures, it is important that you are aware of the potential for abuse with your medication and that you know how to spot the warning signs of abuse and addiction.

It is possible for an addiction to develop quite quickly with drugs such as Klonopin, and many people get caught unawares. It may be due to the fact that they do not realise how dangerous their medication can be and they are under the illusion that it has to be completely safe because it was prescribed by a doctor. Knowing how to spot the signs of abuse can help prevent you from spiralling down the path of addiction.

How Does Klonopin Work?

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine drug that works by enhancing the production of the neurotransmitter GABA (gamma-amino-butyric acid). This is the brain’s natural calming or relaxing chemical. In some individuals, not enough of it is produced to calm other excitatory chemicals within the brain.

It is thought that when too many excitatory chemicals are released by the brain, it causes an imbalance, which can then end up triggering conditions such as anxiety or seizures. Klonopin stimulates the GABA receptors to enhance production, therefore relieving these conditions.

Klonopin Abuse Warnings

It is difficult for most people to see when their use of a particular medication crosses a line into abuse, partly because they just do not understand what abuse of such drugs actually is. For example, most people would not bat an eyelid at taking prescription medication that was prescribed for another person, particularly if that medication was prescribed to treat pain or anxiety.

They believe that if it works for one person, it is bound to work for them, and so do not see the harm in taking it. After all, it must be safe otherwise it would not have been prescribed by a doctor, right?

Wrong. In reality, prescription medication is prescribed specifically for the patient in question, after an assessment by a medically trained professional who will take various factors into consideration before doing so. Taking someone else’s prescription medication is classed as abuse and, as you have probably fathomed, is actually highly dangerous.

You should also be aware that increasing your dose of Klonopin without being advised to do so by your doctor is also classified as abuse, although this too is something that many individuals do. Others will drink alcohol or take other drugs at the same time as Klonopin, another form of abuse.

Klonopin Abuse Causes

It is easy to understand why some people abuse Klonopin, especially when considering that most do so unwittingly. A lack of understanding about what prescription drug abuse is leaves many wondering where the harm is.

What so often happens is that the brain and body get used to Klonopin very quickly and tolerance builds up. When this happens, the effects of the drug diminish, meaning that not the same relief is being received as before. The natural response will be to increase the dose, even though doing so is considered abuse and is very dangerous.

Others will abuse Klonopin deliberately in order to get high. They might like the sedative effects that it induces, or they may take it to help them forget about their problems. Others take it in high doses because it can induce hallucinations.

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Klonopin Warning Signs & Dangers

Although beneficial for short-term use when treating specific conditions, Klonopin is a habit-forming drug with a high potential for abuse. It is important that you are alert to the warning signs of abuse, the first of which is an increased tolerance to the substance.

So if your medication is no longer providing the relief that it once did, it is likely that this is due to the fact that your brain has adapted to it and has adjusted its production of calming chemicals. You may also notice that when the effects of the medication start to wear off you feel unwell or that you are experiencing unpleasant symptoms. This is a sign that you have developed a physical dependence. You might not feel normal or be able to function properly without the medication, particularly if these symptoms subside when you then take Klonopin.

It is at this stage that many find themselves caught in a cycle of abuse and withdrawal. Furthermore, it is at this point that it is easier for that cycle of abuse to spiral out of control. You may start taking higher doses of Klonopin to ease the symptoms you are experiencing, or you might begin mixing it with another substance such as alcohol. Doing this is very dangerous and will put your health, and even your life, at added risk.

The Signs of Klonopin Dependence and Addiction

Spotting the signs of dependence in yourself can be a challenge, mainly because you are probably not going to want to see them. If you are getting relief from your medication, it is likely that you will not want to consider the possibility that you have allowed your use to cross a line. You may not want to think about giving up this medication; you may believe that you will be unable to cope without it.

However, dependence can quickly develop into an addiction, and when this happens it will have a serious negative impact on many areas of your life. It is better to tackle the issue of dependence before getting to the stage of being addicted to the medication. This means being able to spot the signs.

  • Panic attacks
  • Easily irritable
  • “Doctor shopping”
  • Looking for pills without prescription (also online)

If your use of Klonopin is starting to affect daily life but you are still taking it anyway, you could already have an addiction.

Signs of Chronic Long-Term Abuse of Klonopin

Taking Klonopin for a prolonged period is not recommended, yet many people do this. Over time, your body will adapt so that it needs Klonopin to function normally. When you stop taking it or reduce the dose, many problems start to manifest themselves.

If you are a chronic user of Klonopin, you might experience the following side effects:

  • antisocial behaviour
  • aggression
  • memory loss
  • poor concentration
  • drowsiness
  • vertigo
  • depression
  • hostility
  • insomnia
  • mental confusion.

Signs of Short-Term Abuse of Klonopin

Although the aim of Klonopin is to help you relax and to reduce feelings of anxiety and prevent seizures, there are many side effects that can occur when this medication is abused. These can include:

  • headaches
  • drowsiness
  • slurred speech
  • blurred vision
  • rapid heartbeat
  • confusion
  • nervousness
  • nightmares
  • suicidal thoughts
  • sweating
  • cough or sore throat.

Long-term use of Klonopin can also lead to several types of mental health problem. Your cognitive functioning can become impaired, as can your memory. There is also an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease, which has been associated with long-term benzodiazepine abuse.

Klonopin Overdose

The risk of Klonopin overdose is always present in those who abuse this medication. If you are taking Klonopin in higher doses than recommended by your doctor, your risk of overdose increases. Overdose can also occur when Klonopin is mixed with other drugs or alcohol; this can be particularly dangerous, by the way.

Klonopin Overdose Symptoms

If you think you have taken too much Klonopin or you have mixed it with another substance, you could be in imminent danger of overdose, so it is extremely important to be alert to the signs. If you suffer any of the following, it is crucial that you seek medical help at once:

If you are worried about someone you love and have noticed any of the above signs coupled with extreme sedation, again, seek out immediate help. Klonopin overdose can result in fatal consequences if not treated as soon as possible.

Klonopin Overdose Treatment

How a Klonopin overdose is treated will depend on the symptoms that occur as a result of the overdose. For example, it may be necessary to use artificial ventilation if breathing problems occur. If blood pressure drops, doctors will need to prescribe certain medications or use fluid replacement to rectify the problem.

How to Reverse Klonopin Withdrawal

The use of a selective benzodiazepine receptor antagonist such as flumazenil can reverse the effects of a Klonopin overdose. This medication stops the inhibitory, or calming, effects of Klonopin by preventing it from binding to GABA receptors in the brain.

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Klonopin Withdrawal

With prolonged regular use of Klonopin, your brain will adapt so that it is no longer capable of producing enough GABA without your medication. Essentially, this means that it is relying on Klonopin for normal functioning. When you stop taking Klonopin then, the brain is unable to produce the amount of GABA needed, which can lead to a sudden increase in brain activity. This can then trigger any one or more of numerous withdrawal symptoms.

Symptoms of Withdrawal from Klonopin

There are many symptoms associated with Klonopin withdrawal, including:

  • nausea
  • shortness of breath
  • vomiting
  • headaches
  • sweating
  • shakiness
  • stomach pain
  • dizziness
  • depression
  • confusion
  • fatigue
  • seizures
  • hallucinations
  • suicidal thoughts.

Rebound symptoms are also very common when it comes to Klonopin withdrawal. If you began taking this medication to treat anxiety or seizures, you may find that these symptoms return with greater intensity than when you first began taking Klonopin. Because of this, it is important that you never try to quit your medication alone.

Klonopin Withdrawal and Detox

To safely quit Klonopin, it is highly recommended to do so in a supervised facility. It might be necessary for your dose of Klonopin to be reduced gradually over several weeks before you quit for good. This will help lessen the impact of withdrawal and could prevent the worst symptoms from occurring.

Klonopin Treatment and Rehab

Treatment for a Klonopin addiction does not end with a detox, however. It is essential that once you have broken the cycle of abuse to deal more closely with the emotional and psychological issues related to your illness. This is typically carried out with traditional and holistic therapies in a rehab clinic.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much Klonopin causes addiction?

While higher doses of Klonopin are said to increase the risk for addiction, even therapeutic doses can cause an addiction when the medication is taken over a prolonged period.

How do I recognise Klonopin abuse?

Spotting the signs of abuse in yourself can be tough, but if you are taking higher doses of the drug than advised to by your doctor, or if you need to mix Klonopin with other substances to feel its effects, you are already abusing this medication.
Another sign of abuse is taking Klonopin that was prescribed for another person.

When to seek medical care?

If you believe that your use of Klonopin may have spiralled out of control, it is important to get help as soon as possible. Seeking medical care at this stage can prevent you from developing a crippling addiction that could have a negative impact on every part of your life.
You should also seek medical care immediately if you have taken too much medication and are experiencing severe sedation or any other sign of an overdose.

How do I get help for Klonopin addiction?

If you need help for Klonopin addiction, you can find information on the various treatment providers in your area by checking an online information database. You can also speak to your doctor, who may be able to refer you to your local NHS drug treatment service. There is also charity run programmes available across the UK as well as local support groups such as Narcotics Anonymous.
If you are interested in an inpatient programme, contact us here at UKAT for information about the options we provide.

When do Klonopin withdrawal symptoms start?

Because Klonopin is a longer-acting benzodiazepine, it can take a few days before the drug begins to leave your system. This means that it could be between one and four days before the earliest signs of withdrawal are noticed.

How long does Klonopin withdrawal last?

Klonopin withdrawal varies from person to person. How long it lasts depends on how quickly the drug is withdrawn. Some individuals manage to get clean in just over a week if they do a rapid detoxification, but most people will be advised to gradually reduce their medication over a period of weeks or months.

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