Klonopin Addiction–Facts and Related Issues

Klonopin addiction is a medical issue treatable by addiction professionals. It can develop when you have a medical condition it has been prescribed for, or like many people, you may develop it from use without medical supervision. Although only legally available by prescription, Klonopin is widely available in the illicit drug market. It is also a medication that friends and family may share with someone who is stressed because of its quick acting and calming effects.

Klonopin is a ‘Benzo’

Klonopin, or clonazepam, is an anti-anxiety drug, often called an anxiolytic or tranquilizer. It is commonly prescribed for clinical anxiety such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder or Panic Disorder. However, it has other medical uses. For example, it is used in the treatment of particular seizure activity.

Klonopin is in a broad classification of drugs known as benzodiazepines, or more commonly, ‘benzos’. They are some of the most well-known and most prescribed medications in the world and are used psychiatrically as well as in medical-surgical settings. Other commonly used drugs in this class are diazepam (Valium), alprazolam (Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan), and temazepam (Restoril). While all benzodiazepines have similar properties and effects, each is pharmacologically different and valued medically for their individual differences.

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are controlled by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) and monitored by the FDA (Food and Drug Administration). They are classified as Schedule IV depressants due to their central nervous system effects, as well as their potential for abuse and addiction. As a depressant, Klonopin actually depresses (reduces) specific brain activities which lead to effects such as decreased alarm, anxiety, sensitivity or agitation in many realms. The effects are felt just after a dose, and people report feeling relaxation, experiencing less worry or less physical agitation. During abuse, the effects can be euphoria and more overt depressant activity such as drowsiness, poor coordination, and decreased respiration.

Klonopin and Its Black Box Warning

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are used medically for long-term treatment but are generally safest used in the shorter-term—usually 90 days or less. The best medical practice uses frequent and close monitoring of longer-term use due to significant health risks that can arise. In particular, and of recent concern in public safety and the medical community, combining Klonopin or similar drugs with opioids (painkillers) can be lethal. The combination can be medically necessary but is never the first line treatment choice.

The FDA has issued a ‘black box warning’ for painkillers, Klonopin, and other benzodiazepines. Such a warning is the most serious of all such statements regarding medications. They have said that …concomitant use of opioids with benzodiazepines or other central nervous system (CNS) depressants, including alcohol, may result in profound sedation, respiratory depression, coma, and death. This FDA warning has in part been a response to our country’s opioid addiction epidemic in recent years. Additionally, research which has found that the two classes of drugs are commonly abused together, resulting in life-threatening medical emergencies and a high percentage of lethal drug overdoses.

The Two Sides of a Klonopin Addiction

Klonopin addiction can develop in various ways, and always leaves one vulnerable to not just a physiological addiction, but also a psychological one. Biologically, enough use alters the brain’s functioning to the point of ‘needing’ the drug. Once physiological addiction occurs, not having the substance, or not having the usual dose of it, creates biological distress. This is known as physiological dependence. In essence, one’s body—more specifically, the brain–depends on the drug for basic functioning. It learns that the drug is necessary. Although a mistaken biological ‘belief’, the everyday workings of any addiction may it an anguishing subjective reality.

Psychological addiction is a high-risk possibility in the misuse of Klonopin and other drugs of the same class. It works similarly to physical dependence but involves one’s mental and emotional perception that the drug is necessary for coping with life. Together, physical and psychological dependencies create a formidable obstacle for those with a Klonopin addiction. Both aspects of dependency have to be resolved to overcome an addiction to Klonopin. The body must withdraw, the brain has to heal, and psychologically, one must find healthier coping strategies.

Klonopin Abuse and Klonopin Addiction

Klonopin abuse or Klonopin addiction are diagnostically known as a Klonopin Use Disorder, or, using the generic drug name: a Clonazepam Use Disorder. (The terms abuse and addiction are laymen’s terms). The diagnosis is sometimes stated as a Benzodiazepine Use Disorder, referring more generally to the broader classification of the drug.

All Substance Use Disorders are diagnosed using the same criteria of symptoms. Some people who have problematic substance use will have all of the possible symptoms, and some will not. A substance disorder is widely regarded as a chronic and progressive illness if use continues. There are various degrees of severity termed mild, moderate or severe, and if the abuse continues, one can expect to progress along that continuum of severity in time. Severity is determined by how many symptoms are present in a 12 month period—a mild disorder involves 2-3 symptoms; a moderate one 4-5, and a severe disorder will have 6 or more.

The symptoms of a Klonopin Use Disorder are:

  • Klonopin is often taken in larger amounts than was intended, or over a longer period of time than was intended.
  • There is a persistent desire, or unsuccessful efforts, to cut down or control Klonopin use.
  • A great deal of time is spent in activities necessary to obtain, use, or recover from the effects of Klonopin.
  • There are cravings, or strong urges to use Klonopin.
  • Recurrent Klonopin use results in a failure to fulfill major role obligations at work, school, or home.
  • Continued Klonopin use occurs despite having persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or exacerbated by the effects of Klonopin.
  • Important social, occupational, or recreational activities are foregone or reduced because of Klonopin use.
  • Recurrent Klonopin use occurs in situations that are physically hazardous.
  • Continued Klonopin use occurs despite knowledge of having a persistent or recurrent physical or psychological problem that is likely to have been caused or exacerbated by the substance.
  • Tolerance develops which causes a need for more Klonopin over a period of time to achieve desired results.

Who Develops a Klonopin Addiction?

As with all addictions, a Klonopin addiction does not discriminate. Anyone who misuses the drug can become addicted. And, certain life factors create greater vulnerabilities for those who become addicted to Klonopin. Such factors include symptoms of high arousal or nervous system stimulation. For example, clinical anxiety, excessive worry, high muscle tension, and difficulty sleeping are common manifestations of high arousal. The calming effects of Klonopin make for the ‘perfect storm’ in many people’s lives who seek relief from such issues. Also, because mental and emotional difficulties often result in chronic problems such as social anxiety or performance anxiety, people can easily come to rely upon Klonopin to cope with social settings or interactions, as well as school or job performance tasks.

There are various routes to addiction with any substance. Since Klonopin is legally available only through prescription, addiction often begins with the legitimate medical need for its sedating effects. Physical dependence can develop even when the doctor’s orders are followed perfectly, but if higher doses are needed, or the medication is taken over the long-term, the body and brain come to rely upon it. This is an expected medical event, and good medical practice will monitor the situation closely. The good medical practice also demands that Klonopin is discontinued slowly, reducing the dose gradually for a safe and successful withdrawal. Medically, physiological dependence as described here is considered very different than Klonopin abuse or addiction that involves using the drug in different ways than prescribed.

Misuse and abuse of Klonopin are other routes to a Klonopin addiction. Misuse is simply using Klonopin in some way that is not prescribed. Misuse is most often taking more than prescribed, but can also be using Klonopin in combination with other substances. For example, Klonopin labeling warns against using it with alcohol or painkillers. Misuse of Klonopin can also involve using it without a medical need and without a prescription.

Recovery from a Klonopin Addiction

Klonopin addiction is treatable, and with the right help, can be overcome. No matter why you originally used Klonopin, other more healthful and sustainable strategies can replace the addiction. There are many types of treatment settings that can provide the care you need, and among them, you can find the right treatment philosophy, physical location, and accommodations that will suit your individual needs.

Due to the nature of a Klonopin addiction, there are certain basic elements of care you should look for as you explore options for yourself or a loved one. Probably one of the most significant aspects of any Klonopin addiction treatment program you consider should be the availability of medical expertise for withdrawal and detox. Everyone’s health status is different and fluctuates. It is important to work with a medical staff that can assess your overall health, the severity of your addiction, and the medical support you will need for a safe and successful withdrawal. Going into a rehab stay best ensures you will have the care you need for this stage of recovery. There are many medical crises that can arise without on-premises medical monitoring and supervision. Look carefully at what support a program offers in this regard.

Also, the psychological components of Klonopin addiction recovery go far deeper than a safe detox. Klonopin addiction is deeply tied to attempts to cope, and effective treatment will address that, providing you with real-life alternatives that not only work but are easily incorporated into your lifestyle.

Finding the right program for your clinical needs, your life situation and your financial resources can be a daunting task when you or your loved one is in distress. We can help narrow your search by using the extensive information about programs we have collected. We can also help you navigate insurance issues and put you in touch with the many contacts we have made in our work. Our services are free and you can call us anytime.