What is Clonazepam Addiction?
Clonazepam is part of a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. These medications are prescribed to patients who suffer from panic attacks, anxiety and seizure disorders. Taken as prescribed, Clonazepam can be useful for the treatment of diagnosed conditions, but when the drug is abused, addiction and a subsequent need for treatment may occur.
Clonazepam is more commonly known by the brand name Klonopin. This drug is relatively safe for short-term prescribed use but may be habit-forming if taken for a prolonged period or if abused. Commonly prescribed to treat seizure disorders and sometimes prescribed for the treatment of anxiety, Clonazepam can help to control specific symptoms but will not cure or heal such symptoms.
Unfortunately, this medication is widely abused by individuals who have not been prescribed the drug as well as by those who have legitimate reasons to take the drug but fall victim to the euphoria that is felt with excessive use. Any use of this medication outside of the prescribed methods of a doctor can be considered abusive and may lead to addiction.
Risks of Clonazepam Addiction
Clonazepam is a highly potent benzodiazepine and central nervous system depressant which decreases abnormal activity within the brain. It has a half-life of 6 hours, and 0.5 mg of the medication is roughly equivalent to 20 mg of Valium.
Chronic misuse of Clonazepam can lead to addiction, which can easily lead to overdose, as the body will rapidly build up a tolerance to the drug’s psychoactive effects, like euphoria, while more slowly building up a tolerance to the physical effects, such as respiratory depression. In 2013, 31% of prescription drug overdoses in the United States were due to benzodiazepines like Clonazepam.
Side Effects of Clonazepam Addiction
The following side effects will occur if you abuse Clonazepam:
- Memory loss
- Fatigue or energy loss
- Mood changes, or depression
- Constipation or digestive issues
- Feelings of anxiety or agitation
Signs of Clonazepam Addiction
Early signs of addiction often look much like the signs of abuse. Telltale signs may include missing medication, doctor shopping to find new physicians to prescribe medication and otherwise telling lies about medication use.
You are likely suffering from Clonazepam addiction if:
- You take the drug even after you have been ill or otherwise suffered consequences as a result of the drug use.
- You have been in legal, financial or emotional trouble as a result of drug use.
- You have stolen from friends, family or others to obtain drugs or money for drugs.
- You have developed a tolerance to the drug in which you now require greater amounts to feel the same effects.
- You feel sick or otherwise unhappy or uncomfortable without the drug.
- You can’t imagine life without the drug.
- You suffer from symptoms of withdrawal when you stop taking Klonopin.
- You experience seizures, hallucinations or other side effects when you don’t take the drug.
- You hide your drug use from others.
- You would rather use Klonopin than take part in other activities.
Clonazepam misuse also includes taking the drug without a prescription. Signs your loved one may be misusing Clonazepam:
- They use street names to refer to the drug such as:
- Bennies / benzos
- Super Valium
- Unexplained mood swings
- Neglected appearance
- Declining performance at work or school
- Social isolation or changes in social groups
- Disinterest in activities that once interested them
What to do if Someone You Love is Abusing Clonazepam?
Clonazepam carries a risk of overdose, therefore you should check in on anyone you love who is abusing this drug on a regular basis, to ensure they haven’t overdosed.
Signs of Clonazepam overdose include:
- Slowed reflexes
- Impaired coordination
- Slowed or stopped breathing
Doctor shopping is a common sign of Clonazepam addiction. As the medication is usually prescribed for the short-term control of conditions such as epilepsy and panic disorders, individuals are generally unable to support an addiction to the medicine through legitimate means after their original prescription runs out. To obtain more of the drug, individuals will visit multiple doctors, clinics, and pharmacies for new prescriptions.
If a loved one is suffering from Clonazepam addiction, try to talk to them about their options. Be open, listen, and avoid judgment. Getting them into a treatment facility is their best option for getting sober. It is best to talk to a doctor or treatment specialist who can help guide you through this process.
Treatment Options Available for Clonazepam Addiction
If you or a loved one are suffering from Clonazepam addiction, and are unable to stop despite health consequences, it is important to get into a treatment facility as soon as possible.
Treatment options for Clonazepam addiction include:
- Detox treatment will help ween the patient off of Clonazepam. Treatment specialists may help taper you off the drug or use another medication as a substitute. This process will reduce withdrawal symptoms, and help provide sobriety; however, it is only the first stage of treatment.
- This treatment offers the close medical oversight, and services while staying at a treatment facility. Most programs last between 30 and 90 days, with longer treatments recommended for long-term drug users. Inpatient programs create a controlled environment for a patient receiving addiction treatment. Ask the center about the amenities they can provide you for your recovery.
- An outpatient treatment option is available for patients who cannot commit to a long-term stay at a facility. Patients may visit one a day, or a few times a week, to receive their addiction treatment. It is more affordable than inpatient care but does not provide a controlled environment, meaning your triggers at home will still be present.
- CBT is a group of therapies used to treat underlying causes of addiction. This treatment will examine both the patient’s actions, and feelings, and how they pertain to their habits. CBT is helpful for treating co-occurring disorders, such as mental illness, giving patients an all-around treatment. CBT is generally done after the patient is clear (from a detox or inpatient care program).