Klonopin is a prescription medication that’s a member of the benzodiazepine family.
These drugs are designed to soothe electrical impulses in the brain, and they can be very helpful for people dealing with mental illnesses that stem from brain wiring issues. These drugs can also cause changes that some people find pleasurable, and when that happens, an addiction is possible.
Here’s what you need to know about Klonopin, so you can keep yourself and your family safe. Should you already have a Klonopin abuse problem, you’ll need to pay attention to the steps you’ll take in order to get better.
Klonopin has been approved for use in the treatment of panic disorders. The National Institute of Mental Health suggests that close to three percent of adults in the United States have this mental health issue, and nearly half of these people have cases that experts consider to be severe.
Panic disorders can be incredibly difficult to live with. People with a panic disorder become overwhelmed and overcome with sensations of fear, and that sense of terror is accompanied by physical symptoms that might include:
- Chest pain
- Shortness of breath
- Unusual heart beat patterns
People in the midst of a panic disorder can’t handle those symptoms when they appear, so they might find it difficult to handle everyday life. Jobs might fade away, due to missed work caused by panic. People may, in time, lose the ability to leave the house. They may be convinced that the next panic episode is always lingering right around the corner.
When a panic attack is unfolding, electrical impulses in the brain are sped up and amplified. It’s as though there’s a huge lightening storm appearing, taking over all normal brain processes.
Klonopin and benzodiazepines like it are made to put a damper on those electrical impulses. They work, according to CESAR, by impacting a brain chemical called GABA. When this chemical is amended, electrical impulses move just a little bit slower. That can keep a full-blown electrical storm from taking hold, because the Klonopin is keeping everything under control.
But that same chemical that slows electrical impulses also has a role to play in the experience of pleasure. When it’s suppressed, it seems to cause a chain reaction that leads to the sensation of bliss or euphoria in some people. They are just overwhelmed with joy, and that sensation can become addicting.
Any benzodiazepine has the capacity to deliver this kind of euphoria and addiction risk. Research published in CNS Drugs suggests that Klonopin has an intermediate abuse potential, which means it’s not the most dangerous benzo on the market, but it’s also not safe by any means. That means there’s some risk of developing an addiction to this drug.
Klonopin could be incredibly valuable for people paralyzed with feelings of panic and fear, but the drug could also be a target of drug abuse. There are all sorts of reasons why people choose to tinker and play with medications that are designed to help those with legitimate medical concerns.
In a study of the issue, in the Journal of Drug Issues, researchers found that people took prescription drugs non-medically because they wanted to change their mood, facilitate an activity, or help with the impact of another type of drug.
Someone like this might use Klonopin at high doses before a party, just to boost a feeling of joy and connectedness, so making new friends would feel easier. A person like this might take Klonopin after taking a drug like cocaine, to end the high and make the transition to sobriety easier. Someone like this might use Klonopin to correct a bad mood so handling work and angry customers would be easier.
Since Klonopin is so very strong and potent, anyone could fall under the spell of the drug and develop an addiction. There are some people who are at special risk in terms of abuse and addiction.
Overdoses on Klonopin when it’s taken alone are somewhat rare. The drug may be powerful, but it doesn’t seem to have an ability to easily overwhelm the systems the body uses in order to stay alert, awake and conscious. But people who mix Klonopin with another sedating drug like alcohol could overdose in no time at all. They may feel just fine, and then they may have difficulty with breathing, heart rate, and consciousness. Without medical attention, people like this can die.
Klonopin addiction is very serious, but people who have been taking the drug shouldn’t stop their use abruptly. As the National Alliance on Mental Illness points out, Klonopin withdrawals from cold-turkey quitting can include irritability, nausea, tremors, and fast heart rates. Sudden withdrawals can also cause seizures. While people with abuse histories should stop their use, they’ll need to get help in order to do so safely.
Also, people who are taking Klonopin now should resist the urge to share the medication with others. That might be hard to do, as a study in JAMA suggests that about 28 percent of teen girls and about 17 percent of teen boys give away their medications. Adults might have decades of drug sharing behind them, and they may not see the harm in handing out pills they don’t think they need.
Klonopin is so strong and so powerful that sharing it could lead to addictions. Each pill, when taken the wrong way, could lead to serious problems.
Those who share with friends and family could be bringing that terrible consequence to life.
People with panic disorders and Klonopin addictions don’t have to put the needs of one disorder over another. They’re not required to live with an addiction for the rest of life, nor are they required to live with an untreated mental illness. In fact, with the right treatment program, these people could get help with both issues at the same time and experience a robust recovery they just never dreamed was possible.
Weaning off Klonopin is the first step, and that process might take a while to complete. Typically, the treatment team starts by switching a person to a different type of benzodiazepine, and then the dose of that drug is reduced slowly and surely until the person is taking no drugs at all.
People with panic disorders might be surprised to learn that they can handle the issue without Klonopin, but research from American Family Physician proves that they can. Here, researchers report that antidepressant medications and talk therapy are more effective in handling a panic disorder issue than benzodiazepines. Klonopin is meant to get people through a difficult time, and these other therapies are meant to give people control.
In an addiction program, people pull together a treatment plan with professionals, and they start on the therapies that have the proven ability to work. They learn how to use talk to handle anxiety, and they learn how to plan a life that doesn’t contain anxiety triggers. In time, they can walk away with a full toolkit to use to handle the disorder.
They’ll use similar techniques to resist the allure of drugs like Klonopin. They’ll know what their relapse triggers are and how they work, and they’ll know just what to do to handle those triggers.
If you’d like to get started on a program just like this, you’ll need a specialized facility that can handle both mental illnesses and addictions. We can help you find a facility just like this. Please call and we’ll explain the options open to you. We can help you find the facility that’s the perfect fit for your individual needs. Please call and we’ll tell you more.
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David W. Newton is a board certified pharmacist and also has been a board member for boards of examiners for the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy since 1983. His areas of expertise are primarily pharmaceuticals as well as cannabinoids. You can read an article about his expertise in CBD on the National Library of Medicine.