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How to Treat Addiction & Abuse with Clonazepam
This Page was last reviewed and changed on June 23rd, 2020
Treating addiction and abuse often requires putting a person through a detoxification process that creates certain withdrawal symptoms. Some of these have the potential to be quite uncomfortable. Modern medical science has accepted the idea of using prescription medications during withdrawal to make those symptoms more bearable. One such prescription medication is clonazepam.
Clonazepam is one of a number of benzodiazepines that some treatment providers may prescribe in order to relieve the general anxiety and panic that is typical to withdrawing from different drugs. When a person’s withdrawal results in seizures, clonazepam can be helpful for reducing or eliminating them as well. Note that this drug is not, in and of itself, a treatment for addiction or abuse. It is used only to manage withdrawal symptoms.
Also, please note that cravings are considered a withdrawal symptom even though they may last for weeks after detox. As such, clonazepam or other benzodiazepines may be prescribed for several weeks in order to help control cravings.
What Addictions is Clonazepam Used to Treat?
Clonazepam is used in abuse and addiction treatment primarily to assist alcoholics with alcohol withdrawal symptoms. While it may be appropriate to other drug addiction treatments, clonazepam has proved effective in managing acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome. This syndrome produces some of the most severe withdrawal symptoms that detoxing alcoholics go through.
All detoxing alcoholics will experience withdrawal symptoms to some degree. A person suffering from acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome experiences them more severely. They include both anxiety and seizures, which clonazepam is effective in treating.
Medications for Abuse and Addiction
The medications prescribed for abuse and addiction treatment generally have one of two purposes. The first purpose is to manage acute withdrawal symptoms so as to make detoxing more tolerable. Under the general guidelines of modern addiction treatment, the idea is to alleviate the fear and apprehension of undergoing detox by removing as much of the discomfort is possible.
The other purpose of prescription medications is to prevent relapse. Even after a person’s treatment in a residential facility is complete, there will be both temptations and opportunities to return to alcohol or drug use following discharge. Prescription medications can make it easier for recovering addicts to stay away from addictive substances in the weeks and months following alcohol rehab.
How to Choose the Right Medication
Making use of prescription medications to treat drug abuse or addiction is best left to experienced doctors and nurses. They choose medications by first doing a complete physical and psychological exam of the patient. Once they understand exactly what the patient is suffering from, they can look at the many medications at their disposal.
Medications are chosen based on their ability to help the patient at hand. As previously noted, some medications will be chosen as a means of facilitating a smoother detox. Others may be prescribed as a relapse prevention strategy. The key is to select one that will be effective at the moment without creating a worse problem for the patient. In other words, we do not want to trade one addiction for another.
What is Clonazepam?
Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine with tranquillising effects. It is a medication used to prevent and treat a variety of disorders including panic disorder, akathisia, and the seizures associated with epilepsy. Its tranquillising effects include sleepiness and reduced coordination.
Brand names for Clonazepam
Clonazepam is manufactured for distribution over the world. As such, it has many different brand names:
The History of Clonazepam
The Hoffman La Roche Company embarked on a project in the 1950s to create a new class of drugs with the potential to replace barbiturates as the primary choice for treating disorders requiring sedation. Company chemist Leo Sternbach eventually developed the benzodiazepine class of drugs in 1955.
In 1964 the company patented clonazepam as one of the earliest drugs in the benzodiazepine class. Hoffman La Roche was marketing it as a treatment for epileptic seizures by 1975. In the years following, clonazepam and other benzos began making it to the streets as recreational drugs.
Is Clonazepam Addictive
As helpful as clonazepam may be for treating withdrawal symptoms, it is a highly addictive drug as well. As such, experts advise that it not be taken for more than nine weeks. The problem with this drug is that it reduces the brain’s ability to produce certain chemicals that help a person feel calm and relaxed. Dependence is realised when the brain can no longer produce sufficient volumes of those chemicals without the help of the drug.
What Is the Mechanism of Action?
Clonazepam works as a treatment for drug and alcohol abuse by sedating the patient. This sedative response relaxes the mind and the body, thereby relieving anxiety and panic. Sedation also reduces the likelihood of dangerous seizures.
In terms of the mechanism of action, clonazepam enhances the effect of GABA receptors without affecting the levels of GABA in the brain. In essence, the drug modulates GABA function so as to inhibit the firing of neurons. This is what makes the drug sedative by nature.
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How Long Does It Take for Clonazepam to Work?
Clonazepam begins working in most patients within an hour. Its effectiveness is typically between eight and 10 hours, though patient biology will affect this length of time.
What Are the Side Effects of Clonazepam?
The side effects associated with clonazepam range from mild to serious. They include fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, drowsiness, confusion, weakness, loss of coordination, loss of cognitive ability, depression, loss of motivation, and reduced libido.
Facts and Statistics on Clonazepam
Here are a few additional facts you need to know about clonazepam and benzodiazepines:
Roughly 40% of those who take them regularly for more than six weeks will become addicted. (Royal College of Psychiatrists)
Nearly 8% of UK adults taking prescription benzodiazepines misuse them. Among them, some 15% do so regularly. (British Journal of Psychiatry)
UK doctors wrote some 12 million benzodiazepine prescriptions in 2015. (British Medical Association)
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