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Benzodiazepines have been used for a long time to fight anxiety and panic attacks and prevent seizures. At the same time, these medications also carry a significant risk of dependence, tolerance, and addiction. While all benzodiazepines are addictive, Klonopin is considered to be among the ones with the highest abuse liability. Also known as clonazepam, this anti-anxiety medication has two essential features that make it a prime target for individuals fighting a drug addiction: a long half-life and a rapid onset of action.
As soon as Klonopin makes its way to the bloodstream, it heads straight to the brain and can remain in the system for up to three days, depending on how much you take it. Its continuous use can easily lead to dependence and eventually trigger addiction in a very short time.
Klonopin Addiction Statistics
Surveys suggest that in 2011, healthcare professionals wrote approximately 27 million prescriptions for Klonopin, making it the third-most prescribed benzodiazepine in the country. The following statistics from the Drug Enforcement Administration can help individuals understand the Klonopin addiction rate in a better way:
- In 2011, experts labeled Klonopin as the second most diverted benzodiazepine based on the amount seized and processed in forensic labs.
- Approximately 5 million individuals in the United States over the age of 12 years use Klonopin or another type of benzodiazepine in their lives.
- Klonopin use has been related to thousands of calls made to the poison control center, with up to 63,000 visits to the emergency center in the year 2011
Exploring the Addiction Potential of Benzodiazepines
The misuse of Klonopin for non-medical or illegal purposes has become quite common. The Drug Enforcement Administration has categorized all benzodiazepines as Schedule IV drugs, meaning they are safe for use with a valid prescription and medical monitoring. However, they are not as dangerous as prescription opioid drugs that come under the category of Schedule II drugs. These categorizations led to a shadow epidemic, causing benzodiazepine prescriptions to increase in number up to four-fold between 1999 and 2010. Individuals aged 18 to 64 were the primary seekers of these prescriptions, and many ended up developing an addiction to them as they were considerably easier to find.
Because benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, act on the GABA receptors in the brain, they can develop cross-tolerance with alcohol, a substance that also targets GABA receptors. Before the 20th century, many people used to consume opiates and alcohol individually or in combination to manage anxiety. However, with the discovery of benzos, they eventually shifted to this newer class of medication, believing it to be non-addictive. This wrongful perception of Klonopin as a non-addictive medication is what majorly contributes to its rising levels of addiction. The medication is more effective than Valium, and its effects set in rather quickly. This fast mechanism of action is also one of the reasons why people quickly develop tolerance and dependence on this substance. Experts typically prescribe it for two weeks to combat the potential abuse.
Recognizing the Symptoms of Klonopin Abuse
Mentioned below are the common signs and symptoms of Klonopin abuse that may warrant urgent help and support:
- Experiencing uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms upon missing a dose of Klonopin
- Requiring larger doses of Klonopin to achieve the desired effects
- Problems in meeting professional, personal, or academic responsibilities because of Klonopin use
- Going out of the way to acquire Klonopin, even if it requires more struggle and process
- Issues in meeting professional, personal, and academic responsibilities because of Klonopin use
- Attempting to control Klonopin use but failing
- Neglecting self-care
- Symptoms like unsteady gait, slurry speech, and drunkenness
- Sudden economic difficulties with no reasonable explanation
- Behavioral changes, such as becoming more secretive or irritable
While these signs may be subtle and mild at first, they usually intensify as an individual increases their dosage or frequency of Klonopin. Simultaneous use of other intoxicating and potentially addictive substances, such as opioids and alcohol, further exacerbates these symptoms, leading to adverse health effects and even death in some instances. Some people are more prone to developing an addiction to Klonopin, such as people:
- Using Klonopin for more than four weeks
- With a personal history of abusing substances or alcohol
- With a family history of substance abuse
- Whose friends or family members abuse drugs or alcohol
- Struggling with health issues, such as depression or anxiety
- Fighting anxiety or panic attacks for a long time
The Dangers of Klonopin Use
Klonopin use can undoubtedly lead help users control many medical issues. Its desired effects typically become noticeable within 60 minutes of taking the medication as it slowly starts acting on the central nervous system to relax and slow down the body. However, when a person starts abusing it, i.e., using it in higher doses or more frequently than required, Klonopin can lead to many unwanted side effects, such as the following:
- Slurry speech
- Extreme sleepiness throughout the day
- Lack of coordination
- Troubles with memory
- Slowed or delayed reaction times
- Violent and aggressive behaviors
- Psychotic symptoms, such as hallucinations and paranoia
- Stomach upset, including vomiting and nausea
- Agitation and restlessness
In addition to the issues mentioned above, some people may also struggle with the following Klonopin dangers:
- Central nervous system depression
- Respiratory difficulty
- Hives or rashes
Treating Klonopin Addiction: Steps Involved in Professional Care
If you or a loved one has been abusing Klonopin regularly, it is likely that you struggle with addiction. While addiction is a chronic illness, treatment is possible with comprehensive care and planning. Each addiction program is likely to vary according to individual needs; however, all of them have some general components to expect:
All addiction treatment programs begin with a diagnosis in which medical and behavioral health professionals join forces to establish addiction and its severity while ruling out other co-occurring conditions. For this purpose, they may use many psychological and physical assessments.
Detoxification is usually the second step that, involves slowly reducing the daily dose of Klonopin with an aim to completely stop its use. Most people go through a slow-taper approach to minimize the possibility and extent of withdrawal symptoms. However, most people still end up developing some withdrawal symptoms that may include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, stomach cramps, chills, and intense drug cravings. Detox from Klonopin is critical and requires careful monitoring, help, and support from experienced staff members to get patients through the process without hiccups. Sometimes, the detox team may use medications to stabilize patients as their bodies slowly reduce the Klonopin levels in the blood.
Individualized Treatment Programs
Individualization is a crucial feature of a good treatment program that allows Klonopin addicts to choose a rehab program that best suits their personal circumstances. The process involves patients and experts working together to determine their clinical needs and plan a program that addresses them.
Substance Abuse Education
In addition to therapy, many rehabs conduct frequent educational sessions for clients and their loved ones. The aim of these educational sessions is to help them understand what addiction is, why people develop it, and what is the best way to manage it and experience long-term recovery.
Therapy forms a crucial element of Klonopin addiction recovery and can be of different types. One-on-one or individual therapy allows patients to work directly with a therapist to overcome personal problems unique to their circumstances. Group therapy, on the other hand, involves sessions with multiple patients working with a single therapist to reflect on their everyday issues and find solutions. Many rehabs also provide complementary therapies to augment the recovery processes. These therapies may include EMDR, music and art therapy, yoga and meditation, and more. The success of an addiction treatment program highly depends on finding the right combination of therapies that supports recovery.
Tapering and Medications
Keep in mind that as a person addicted to Klonopin, your treatment can change according to your varying needs. Tapering may also take much longer in some people, so experts keep monitoring and changing their drug doses depending on how they respond. Addiction specialists also make sure that no patient misuses Klonopin or any other substance during treatment.
Because addiction is a chronic disease, it is common to experience relapses during recovery. Hence, a good treatment program always involves steps to help patients identify their relapse triggers and prepare them to manage or avoid them. If a relapse still occurs, the key is to get back on track as immediately as possible and restart treatment.
An aftercare plan is essential for people who wish to enjoy sustained recovery. A therapist usually helps patients build an appropriate aftercare plan before they leave treatment so that they can maintain their sobriety in everyday life.
The duration of Klonopin addiction treatment varies, depending on individual circumstances. People abusing Klonopin for a long time or mixing it with other drugs or alcohol will require spending more time in therapy. Generally, treatment may last between 28 to 90 days; however, most healthcare agencies recommend at least 90 days just to be sure.
Why is Klonopin addictive?
Klonopin can be highly addictive and likely cause tolerance and dependency in people who continue to use it for a long time. Such people may struggle to feel its pleasurable and medically-necessary benefits as their bodies slowly adjust to the increased amount of GABA neurotransmitter that Klonopin produces in the brain. This tolerance to the medication forces users to increase their doses or frequency of use to facilitate the same results once again. As a result, their bodies start functioning sub-optimally when they do not have enough Klonopin in their systems. When such people stop using Klonopin all of a sudden, they may also experience withdrawal symptoms as the medication levels fall below a certain point.
What is my risk of developing Klonopin addiction?
The potential of acquiring Klonopin abuse differs from one person to another, depending on a handful of factors, such as:
- How long has a person been using drugs
- The typical dose they use every time
- How frequently do they use Klonopin
In general, people who use Klonopin in higher doses or continuously for a long time may end up developing the addiction much faster than occasional users. Remember that even those who are using the medication as prescribed for a legit medical problem may also become dependent on it.
Will my insurance cover rehab for clonazepam addiction?
Fortunately, many insurance companies provide good coverage regarding drug rehab costs. The specific treatments an insurance plan may cover depend on the company you purchased the plan from. For any particular queries regarding insurance coverage, it is always best to contact a representative at the rehab you are planning to join. A good treatment center has a dedicated team of professionals who liaise with insurance companies on behalf of their patients to verify their benefits and determine any out-of-pocket costs that patients may have to pay.
1 Basit H, Kahwaji CI. Clonazepam. [Updated 2022 Sep 1]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2022 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556010/
2 Dokkedal-Silva, V., Berro, L. F., Galduróz, J. C. F., Tufik, S., & Andersen, M. L. (2019). Clonazepam: Indications, Side Effects, and Potential for Nonmedical Use. Harvard review of psychiatry, 27(5), 279–289. https://doi.org/10.1097/HRP.0000000000000227