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Klonopin (Clonazepam) Abuse & Addiction | Effects, Withdrawal Symptoms, & Treatment Options

Klonopin Clonazepam white pills on a table

Many people who experience seizures, panic attacks, anxiety disorders, or insomnia find relief from Klonopin. This prescription drug can also make it easier to get through alcohol withdrawal.

However, long-term use of Klonopin may lead to addiction. In addition, some people abuse the medication by taking it in a manner not prescribed. If you or a loved one struggles with Klonopin abuse or addiction, help is available at a drug abuse treatment program. 

What Is Klonopin?

Klonopin is the brand name for a central nervous system depressant called clonazepam. It’s classified as a benzodiazepine (or “benzo”). Other popular benzodiazepines include Xanax, Ativan, and Valium.

Like all benzodiazepines, Klonopin increases the activity of a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) called gamma-Aminobutyric acid, or GABA. This chemical makes you feel more calm and relaxed. At higher doses, it can also cause euphoria (intense joy). 

To reduce the risk of addiction, many doctors only prescribe Klonopin for short-term or occasional use. 

Side Effects Of Klonopin

Like all medications, Klonopin can cause side effects, including:

  • drowsiness
  • dizziness 
  • blurred vision
  • poor coordination
  • memory problems
  • frequent urination
  • painful muscles or joints
  • increased saliva
  • changes in sexual ability or drive

The drug may also cause more dangerous side effects such as difficulty breathing, difficulty swallowing, hives, or swelling of the face, eyes, lips, throat, or tongue. Contact your health care provider if you experience any of these symptoms.

Klonopin Abuse & Addiction

Because Klonopin can make you feel euphoric or “high,” some people abuse it by:

  • taking it without a prescription
  • taking higher doses than prescribed
  • taking it more frequently than prescribed
  • taking it for longer than prescribed
  • taking it with other drugs, such as alcohol or opioids
  • taking it using a method not prescribed, such as crushing and snorting the pills

Abusing Klonopin even just once can have serious consequences, as the drug is highly addictive. 

In fact, even people who take Klonopin exactly as prescribed may become addicted if they take it for a long time or at high doses. Addiction, also called substance use disorder, is a serious disease that makes it extremely difficult to stop using a drug.

Effects Of Klonopin Addiction

Those who struggle with Klonopin addiction often: 

  • avoid friends and family to spend more time getting and using the drug
  • fall behind at work or school
  • doctor shop (visit multiple doctors to get multiple prescriptions of the drug) 
  • want to quit the drug but feel unable to do so
  • develop a tolerance, which means they need increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the desired effects
  • develop a physical dependence, which means they experience withdrawal symptoms when trying to quit the drug

They may also display more severe versions of the drug’s usual side effects. For example, while a person who uses Klonopin as prescribed may experience mild-to-moderate drowsiness, a person who abuses the medication may have extreme difficulty staying awake. 

Learn more about Klonopin Side Effects

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

Whether you have a prescription for Klonopin or not, you may experience withdrawal symptoms if you suddenly stop using the drug. These symptoms include:

  • anxiety
  • irritability
  • insomnia
  • weakness
  • increased heart rate
  • aches and pains
  • tense muscles
  • nausea or vomiting
  • hand tremors
  • seizures

To avoid or reduce these symptoms, talk to a doctor before trying to quit Klonopin. They’ll help you gradually decrease your dosage in a process called “tapering.” Tapering lowers your risk of withdrawal symptoms because it doesn’t shock your system like suddenly quitting does. 

Learn more about Klonopin Withdrawal

Klonopin Overdose

If you abuse or are addicted to Klonopin, you face a greater risk of overdose. Overdose can occur when you take too much Klonopin or mix it with other drugs. 

Common overdose signs include:

  • extreme drowsiness
  • confusion
  • dilated pupils
  • clammy skin
  • poor reflexes
  • trouble breathing
  • rapid, weak pulse
  • seizures
  • loss of consciousness 

A Klonopin overdose can be life-threatening; call for emergency services right away if you or someone you know experiences the above symptoms.

Learn more about Klonopin Overdose 

Treatment Options For Klonopin Addiction

It’s possible to recover from Klonopin addiction. However, you shouldn’t try to do so on your own. Instead, turn to a drug addiction treatment program. 

A team of medical and mental health professionals will evaluate your situation and help you design a personalized treatment plan. Most plans include medical detox, inpatient or outpatient care, and aftercare. 

Medical Detox

During medical detox, doctors will gradually lower your Klonopin dosage to reduce the chance of withdrawal symptoms. They’ll closely monitor your physical and mental health to ensure you’re withdrawing safely. 

Inpatient/Outpatient Care

People who choose inpatient care live at a substance abuse treatment center and receive 24/7 support and monitoring. Those who choose outpatient care regularly attend a treatment center while living at home. 

Both types of care give you access to services like talk therapy, peer support groups, and contingency management (a form of therapy in which you receive rewards when you progress in your recovery). 

Aftercare

Some people relapse after leaving a treatment program. To reduce this risk, your treatment providers will come up with an aftercare plan. 

It may include ongoing behavioral therapy, non-addictive medications to treat underlying mental illnesses, and wellness activities such as meditation and yoga. 

If you or someone you love wants to break free of Klonopin abuse or addiction, contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist to learn more about our treatment options.

Klonopin FAQ

How Long Does Klonopin Stay In Your System?

Klonopin has a half life of 30 to 40 hours. Half life is the time it takes for half of a drug to exit your system. It typically takes about five half lives for Klonopin to completely leave your body, meaning it usually stays in your system for up to nine days. 

However, the drug’s metabolites (byproducts produced when your liver breaks down a drug) can be detected on a urine test for up to 30 days and on a hair follicle test for up to 28 days.

Read How Long Does Klonopin Stay In Your System to learn more

Can You Snort Klonopin?

As with other prescription benzodiazepine medications, it’s possible to crush Klonopin tablets into a fine powder and inhale it through the nose with a straw or tube.

While snorting Klonopin can result in a quicker and more intense high, this form of substance abuse risks severe nasal trauma and increases the risk of developing physical dependence on the drug.

Learn more about Snorting Klonopin

Is Klonopin A Narcotic?

Although many people believe narcotics include all drugs, they only include opioid pain medications. Although clonazepam is not considered a narcotic, it is classified as a benzodiazepine and a Schedule IV controlled substance. 

Read Klonopin Drug Classification to learn more

Can You Shoot Up Klonopin?

Klonopin can be crushed up and injected, which is also known as “shooting up.” While this may increase a Klonopin high, it is a form of substance abuse and can cause many adverse health effects.

Learn more about Injecting Klonopin

Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
This page does not provide medical advice.

Harvard Health Publishing - Benzodiazepines (and the alternatives) - Harvard Health
The Mental Health Clinician - Benzodiazepine use, misuse, and abuse: A review
U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) - Benzodiazepines
U.S. National Library of Medicine: DailyMed - Klonopin-clonazepam tablet

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