Clonazepam—also referred to by the brand name Klonopin—is a central nervous system depressant often prescribed to help people manage conditions such as anxiety disorder, insomnia, panic disorder, seizures, and social phobias. Considered a controlled substance by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), clonazepam might cause emotional and physical dependence.
Clonazepam: What You Need to Know
Clonazepam is a long-acting benzodiazepine, a category of drugs used to reduce excessive brain activity by activating gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Research indicates additional GABA often has a calming effect on over-stimulated neurotransmitters—one of the main contributing factors for people with anxiety, insomnia and seizures. According to WebMD, benzodiazepines “act on the central nervous system, produce sedation and muscle relaxation, and lower anxiety levels.”
Physicians and mental health professionals prescribe clonazepam or Klonopin in doses ranging from 0.125 mg to 2 mg, usually in tablet or disintegrating tablet form, to help manage conditions such as:
- Alcohol withdrawal
- Akathisia (restless movement)
- Anxiety disorder
- Panic disorder
- Seizure control
Clonazepam might also be used to induce amnesia or before surgical procedures that require anesthesia.
Typical Side Effects of Clonazepam
When taken as prescribed, clonazepam or Klonopin are considered safe for long-term use. However, like most medications, there might be some common or even serious side effects— especially when combined with alcohol, other prescription medication, some over-the-counter drugs, and illegal substances.
Here’s a listing from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).
Common side effects include:
- Impaired coordination
- Trouble concentrating
NAMI indicates that for most individuals, these common side effects of clonazepam might be present in the first few weeks of taking the medication but then dissipate.
Serious side effects might be:
- Allergic reaction
- Excessive sweating
- Extreme fatigue or passing out
- Increased heart rate
- Memory impairment
- Shortness of breath
- Sleep driving, eating, or walking
- Suicide ideation
- Trouble speaking
- Unusual behavior or changes in mood
Why Might People Develop Clonazepam Dependency?
Similar to Ativan or lorazepam, other anti-anxiety drugs classified as benzodiazepines, clonazepam often has an immediate effect on brain chemistry. As a result, someone might develop emotional or physical dependency in as little as two weeks. This is why the DEA categorizes clonazepam as a Schedule IV prescription drug, defined as a drug that has accepted medical use “but may also cause physical or psychological dependence and may be abused.”
Some people still use clonazepam and Klonopin for their calming effects. Other names include K-Cuts, K-Pins, pins, and super Valium.
Because of the effects of clonazepam or Klonopin on the brain, it’s imperative to never stop taking them “cold turkey”; otherwise, a person might experience:
- Extreme stomach or muscle cramps
- New or worsening seizures
- Uncontrollable shaking in one or more parts of the body
People should always consult with their health care provider or a treatment professional before stopping clonazepam.
Clonazepam Withdrawal & Treatment
At Willingway, our board-certified medical team helps individuals with clonazepam dependency through a gradual medication reduction method to reduce the impact of withdrawal symptoms such as:
- Extreme sleeplessness
- Heightened anxiety
- Increased heart rate
- More frequent panic episodes
- Possibility of additional seizures
Medically-supervised detox and withdrawal might take 2-4 weeks, depending on the initial clonazepam dosage or the level of addiction. Extended treatment might also be advised, especially if alcohol or other substances are involved, to get the root cause of behavior and treat the underlying condition the medication was initially prescribed to manage.
For example, while every person is unique, some people can manage anxiety disorder with techniques such as reducing caffeine, exercising more, adhering to a healthier diet, creating a sleep ritual, and other more holistic methods. Through the guidance of treatment professionals, an individual can incorporate these and other options as they continue to recognize aspects of their behavior more clearly. Then it might be possible to not need supplemental medication or to take it at a lower dose.
Willingway Is Ready to Help
Inpatient rehabilitation treatment also provides a better recovery foundation if an individual required clonazepam or Klonopin to control seizures. Willingway’s medical staff members work as a unified care team, analyzing the origins of the condition and its impact on whole-person health.
While some conditions certainly benefit from medicated management, an individual should always feel confident that they’re receiving the best possible care for their disorder. Ask a member of our admissions team how Willingway can provide that for you.