Klonopin (Clonazepam) Addiction
Klonopin is a prescription medication used to treat panic and seizure disorders.1 It belongs to a class of medications called benzodiazepines, or “benzos” for short.
These medications can be addictive and may cause dangerous withdrawal symptoms for someone who has developed a dependence on them.2 Read on to learn more about Klonopin addiction, including potential side effects, signs of misuse, and treatment options.
What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a benzodiazepine, which is a type of central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can calm an otherwise excited CNS. Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are intended to be taken with a prescription, but these medications are often misused.2
Klonopin is one of the most commonly prescribed benzodiazepines and one of the most frequently encountered benzos on the illicit market.3
Klonopin is also available under the generic name clonazepam.1
What Is Klonopin Used For?
Klonopin is used as a short-term treatment for panic disorder—a type of anxiety disorder where a person experiences recurring panic attacks or episodes of acute fear along with other distressing symptoms, such as dizziness, shortness of breath, shaking, and sweating. People with panic disorder also experience significant fear that they will have more panic attacks in the future.1
Klonopin can be prescribed by itself or in combination with other medications to treat certain types of seizure disorders.1
Some people misuse Klonopin and other benzos by taking them without a prescription or in larger doses than prescribed to feel their potentially euphoric and sedating effects.2,3 Misuse of benzodiazepines tends to be at higher than therapeutic doses and to co-occur with misuse of other substances, such as opioids, alcohol, or cocaine.3
Misusing Klonopin is dangerous because it puts people at greater risk of developing dependence and addiction and experiencing overdose or death.1
However—even when taken as prescribed—regular, long-term use of benzos like Klonopin can lead to dependence and addiction.1,2
Klonopin Addiction vs. Dependence
Klonopin use can result in both addiction and dependence.1 While addiction and dependence are often present together, they are distinct conditions, and it is possible to be dependent on a substance without having an addiction.4
Addiction refers to continued, compulsive substance use despite negative consequences. Addiction may impact every aspect of a person’s life and is typically accompanied by physical, behavioral, and neurological changes that affect their ability to stop using drugs or alcohol.4
Physical dependence is when the body adapts to the presence of a drug or medication, so much so that a person needs the drug in their system to function normally. Once dependence develops, a person will experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop or significantly reduce their use of the drug.4
With significant levels of physiological dependence, a person may continue to compulsively use a drug in an effort to avoid unwanted withdrawal symptoms, which could ultimately lead to an addiction.4
Klonopin Side Effects
Klonopin can cause a range of short- and long-term side effects. These side effects can range in severity and differ from person to person.1
Common short-term side effects associated with Klonopin include:1
- Poor coordination.
- Memory problems.
Possible long-term risks of taking Klonopin include the following:5
- Cognitive decline.
- Accidents and injuries (particularly for the elderly).
How Addictive Is Klonopin?
As a Schedule IV controlled substance, Klonopin has a recognized potential to result in dependence and addiction—even when using it as directed.
A 2020 national survey found that 4.8 million Americans over age 12 had misused benzos like Klonopin in the previous year. That same year, approximately 1.2 million Americans met the criteria for a sedative use disorder, the clinical term for addiction to sedatives like benzos.6
The neurotransmitter dopamine can play a significant role in the development of addiction. Benzodiazepine use is associated with an increase in dopamine activity, which serves to reward or reinforce continued use, which can eventually underlie compulsive patterns of use.7
Signs of Klonopin Addiction
There are certain signs of Klonopin addiction that may be noticeable to other people.
Professionals use the term “sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder” to diagnose people with an addiction to CNS depressants like Klonopin. Criteria for this condition includes:8
- Taking the medication in larger amounts or for a longer period than intended.
- Failed efforts to stop taking the medication or cut back use.
- Inability to keep up with responsibilities at home, work, or school because of Klonopin use.
- Strong drug cravings.
- Loss of interest in social and recreational activities because of Klonopin use.
- Spending lots of time getting, taking, or recovering from the drug.
- Taking Klonopin in dangerous settings (e.g., while driving).
- Experiencing relationship problems because of Klonopin use.
- Continuing to use Klonopin even though it causes or contributes to health or emotional problems.
- Tolerance (needing larger amounts of the medication to feel the same effects over time).
- Withdrawal (a set of symptoms that occur when a person stops or reduces drug use).
When a person is taking Klonopin under medical supervision, tolerance and withdrawal do not count toward the criteria for diagnosis, because these symptoms are expected to occur when the medication is stopped.8
Klonopin Withdrawal and Detox
When someone has been using or misusing Klonopin regularly for longer than several weeks, they will likely experience withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop taking it or significantly reduce their dose.1,8
Klonopin use for as little as 2 weeks can result in withdrawal symptoms. Using Klonopin in higher doses or for longer periods of time is often associated with more severe or prolonged (and dangerous) withdrawal symptoms.8
Withdrawal from benzodiazepines like Klonopin can be severe and is one of the withdrawal syndromes (along with opioids and alcohol) for which a supervised medical detox may be needed to keep a person safe and to limit the risks of withdrawal complications such as seizures.10
Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms associated with Klonopin withdrawal can range from mildly uncomfortable to serious and life-threatening. These symptoms may include:1,8
- Elevated vital signs (e.g., increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature).
- Hand tremors.
- Nausea or vomiting.
Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline
Generally, acute withdrawal starts within the first few days or week after stopping the use of Klonopin and lasts around 3 weeks, but some people may experience certain prolonged, or protracted, withdrawal symptoms lasting for many weeks or even months.8
Symptoms of protracted withdrawal may include:1
- Sleeping difficulties.
- Problems with memory, learning, and concentration.
This can make recovery challenging and, in some cases, contribute to relapse. Addiction treatment can help people manage withdrawal symptoms and support long-term recovery.11
Klonopin Addiction Treatment
If you or someone you love has lost control of their Klonopin use, professional addiction treatment can help.
Medical detox ensures patient safety and comfort, as the body rids itself of toxins like drugs and alcohol. This process is typically followed by an inpatient or outpatient treatment program, where individuals get the tools and support they need to maintain long-term recovery.12
At River Oaks Treatment Center, we offer different types of rehab, including medical detox, inpatient rehab, partial hospitalization, and intensive outpatient. Our Tampa metro area inpatient rehab facility tailors its treatment plans to meet the individual needs of each patient and allows them to transfer from one level of care to another.
Programming includes evidence-based individual and group therapies for addiction, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing, as well as mutual help recovery groups (e.g., 12-Step meetings), family therapy, and treatment medications (as needed and determined by the treatment team).
Specialized support is also available for Veterans, first responders, members of the LGBTQ+ community, and people with co-occurring mental health disorders.
At River Oaks, we try to make addiction treatment as accessible as possible and accept various rehab payment options, including financing and payment plans. We are also in-network with many health insurance carriers, so some or all of your treatment costs may be covered.
To learn more about using insurance to pay for rehab, call us at or fill out this quick and secure .
Our admissions navigators are available around the clock to help verify your insurance, answer any questions, and start the admissions process today.
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