Klonopin (generic name clonazepam) is a commonly prescribed benzodiazepine (benzo), which has effects that last longer than most other medications in its class, at up to 6-12 hours. Benzos are a class of CNS (central nervous system) depressants that also include prescription drugs such as Ativan, Valium, and Xanax. Klonopin is usually prescribed to treat anxiety, panic, or seizures.
The DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) classifies Klonopin as a Schedule IV controlled substance. This indicates that although it does have some legitimate medical purposes, there is still some low potential for abuse, dependence, and addiction.
Klonopin also has a relatively long half-life, a term which refers to the duration of time required for half of the substance to be eliminated from the body—between 30-40 hours. This means that it takes roughly 2-3 days for 50% of Klonopin to be cleared from a person’s system. Due to its long half-life, a small amount of the drug is likely to remain in the body for up to 9 days following the last dose.
Personal factors may also influence how long the effects of Klonopin last and the amount of time it takes for it to be purged from a person’s system. These factors can include the following:
- Height and weight
- Body fat and mass
- Individual biology
- Food consumption
- Liver function
- Metabolic rate
- Urinary pH
- Typical dosage amount
- Frequency of use
- Duration of use
- Use of other substances
How Does Klonopin Work?
Klonopin decreases overactivity in the CNS that is associated with anxiety, insomnia, muscle spasms, seizures, and various other disorders. As an intermediate-acting benzo, it can reduce the risk of seizure activity for several hours after the medication has been ingested. Klonopin may also be prescribed to individuals who experience persistent fidgeting, restlessness, or other involuntary movements.
Often, health professionals will prescribe Klonopin for the treatment of anxiety and panic disorders. However, it isn’t as commonly prescribed for the treatment of acute anxiety or insomnia as other drugs, such as Ativan and Xanax. These other benzodiazepines are often more effective at treating such conditions because their effects manifest rapidly within minutes but do not last as long as Klonopin.
Clonazepam Abuse and Addiction
Like other benzos, Klonopin can produce feelings of relaxation, reward, and well-being, which drive its potential for abuse and addiction. Even those who use Klonopin as prescribed by a physician may find themselves advancing into problematic use. It is these feelings that often compel a person to use Klonopin more often or in higher doses than prescribed.
Klonopin use can result in tolerance and dependence if continued for an extended period. Tolerance is a condition that develops as the body adapts to the presence of a substance and gradually decreases its effects. When this happens, the person may be driven to use more of the drug to experience the sought-after results.
Dependence also develops after prolonged exposure to a substance, as the body becomes accustomed to its presence and is unable to function correctly in its absence. Once dependence occurs, an individual will begin to experience uncomfortable or painful withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using the substance. Tolerance and dependence are tell-tale signs of addiction, a condition that is also hallmarked by compulsive drug-seeking behavior despite the incurrence of negative consequences.
Anyone who takes a dose of Klonopin in excessive amounts or too often is at a heightened risk for overdose. Although it is not easy to lethally overdose on Klonopin when used by itself, if it combined with other CNS depressants, such as other benzos, opioids or alcohol, the depressant effects of all substances are compounded and can be life-threatening.
Symptoms of a Klonopin overdose may include the following:
- Slurred speech
- Impaired vision
- Stupor or unresponsiveness
- Depressed breathing
- Impaired motor skills
- Low blood pressure
If you suspect that you or a person you know is experiencing these symptoms after using Klonopin, particularly with other drugs or alcohol, please call 911 or visit the nearest emergency department immediately.
Getting Treatment for Klonopin Addiction
Once someone has developed a dependence on Klonopin, it can be very challenging to discontinue use. Those who take Klonopin regularly for an extended period will experience withdrawal effects when they attempt to stop use. The discomfort of these symptoms is often the primary reason why an individual will continue to use Klonopin even if he or she is highly motivated to stop.
Fortunately, recovery from Klonopin addiction is certainly attainable, and the first step is to accept that you have a problem and seek help.
Just Believe Recovery uses a comprehensive, research-based approach to addiction that includes behavioral therapy, individual and group counseling, treatment for co-existing mental health conditions, peer group support, aftercare planning, and much more.
If you or someone you love is dependent on clonazepam or other substances, help is available. Please know that you don’t have to suffer alone—contact us today to find out how we can help!