- What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Klonopin?
- How Long Do Klonopin Withdrawals Last?
- Contributing Factors to Klonopin Withdrawal
- Do Withdrawals Mean Addiction?
- How Do I Know if I May Be Addicted?
- Is There a Way to Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms?
- How Can I Be Treated for Klonopin Withdrawals?
- When Might Rehab Be Appropriate?
- Final Thoughts
- Medical Disclaimer
Klonipin is the brand name of the drug called clonazepam. Similar in action to Xanax or Valium, it belongs to a class called “benzodiazepines.” These drugs affect the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain, causing a tranquilizing effect.
Klonopin is used for two purposes. Large doses of the drug can be used for patients who suffer from seizures due to epilepsy or cancer. More commonly, Klonopin is used as a short-term treatment for panic attacks in those who have panic disorder or severe anxiety disorder. In these cases, Klonopin is not a long-term solution, but is intended to be taken during episodes. The amount taken is also one-tenth as large as for those with seizures.
What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms of Klonopin?
Those who take Klonopin for a long time (anything over a few weeks), or are abusing the amount of Klonopin they take, will experience a wide variety of signs and symptoms when they cease using the drug. This experience is known as “withdrawals.”
Symptoms refer to the experience of the person having withdrawals, things that are often difficult for others to notice or define. Common symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal include:
- Increased sweating.
- Insomnia, dizziness, and “foggy thinking.”
- Loss of appetite.
- Feelings of anxiousness or depression..
Severe symptoms of withdrawal that occur as a result of Klonopin abuse include:
- Muscle spasms.
- Hyperventilation and trouble breathing.
- Paranoia and hallucinations.
- Rapid heart rate and high blood pressure.
- Suicidal thoughts.
In the worst cases, withdrawal can include seizures. In the case of Klonopin abuse, it is important to cease using the medication while being monitored, in case the withdrawal process causes seizures or unconsciousness.
How Long Do Klonopin Withdrawals Last?
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms rely highly on how much tolerance your body has built up for the drug, as well as any damage that has been done to your kidneys and liver. Signs and symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal among people who have only started the drug may last one to three days, while those who have been abusing Klonopin may take weeks before they no longer experience symptoms.
In some cases, Klonopin abuse can cause semi-permanent damage, and some symptoms will come and go for months. In ten percent of Klonopin abuse cases, people develop a “post-withdrawal syndrome” that involves anxiety, insomnia, and tinnitus. In these circumstances, long-term medication-assisted treatment may be necessary to recover.
There is an approximate timeline to when signs and symptoms begin and end, with certain symptoms appearing before others.
Early signs of withdrawal (within the first several days) are also more likely to occur after minor tolerance. These include shivers, sweating, and dizziness.
Later signs (within a week or so) can often be far more serious and can include paranoia, nightmares, trouble with memory, and even seizures. These signs and symptoms occur when there has been extreme abuse.
Contributing Factors to Klonopin Withdrawal
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms vary from person to person, and there are several reasons why someone may experience harsher symptoms than others. While the most important factor is how much the drug has been abused, other factors also play a role:
Age and Physical Health
If you are older, or have illnesses such as asthma, respiratory problems like shortness of breath and hyperventilation are far more common. They are also more serious. If you have pre-existing heart conditions, the increase in heart rate and blood pressure from withdrawals may lead to heart attack or stroke.
Mixing With Other Drugs
If you are also on opioids or alcohol, the withdrawal symptoms of Klonopin can also present with additional side effects from these drugs. By also quitting these drugs, withdrawal symptoms can “stack,” with tremors, sleep disorders, and panic attacks becoming more common.
If you have a mental illness, Klonopin withdrawal can cause the worst of your symptoms to increase dramatically. This may mean serious depression, mania, suicidal thoughts, delusions, and hallucinations. It is important to discuss with a psychiatrist the ways in which you can look after your mental health during withdrawal. This is why rehabilitation centers have psychiatric nurses and practitioners to help with the detox process.
Do Withdrawals Mean Addiction?
While withdrawals do not necessarily mean you have an addiction, it means your body has built up a tolerance and you should stop taking them. This means you should speak to your doctor about changing your prescription.
If you are concerned about the idea of talking to a doctor, or with the idea of stopping Klonopin, that is a sign that you may be developing an addiction. These thoughts need to be addressed before things get worse.
How Do I Know if I May Be Addicted?
Being concerned about going without a drug can be one of the first signs of addiction. However, there are a number of other signs you can look for in yourself and others. These signs are specific to addiction, but can indicate all forms of addiction (including drugs, alcohol, and gambling). It is important to speak to a professional if you notice these in yourself or someone you care about.
Common signs of addiction include:
- Being in financial trouble because you prioritize the addiction over rent or groceries.
- Neglecting relationships with friends and family —this includes people being worried about your behavior.
- Feeling more angry and agitated when you are not able to feed your addiction.
- Breaking the law.
- Neglecting to take care of yourself —forgetting to wash your clothes, do the dishes, or feed the pets.
- Having a drop in performance at school or work.
Some of these signs are also indicative of mental health disorders, which have been linked to addiction. Untreated mental illness is a major risk factor for, and can be exacerbated by, addiction.
Signs more specific to drug addiction include:
- Failing in attempts to stop using.
- Having continual thoughts about the drug even when not worried about the problem you take it for.
- Feeling the need to hoard or hide the drug “for a rainy day.”
- Taking doses that have not been prescribed by your doctor.
- Seeing different doctors to get prescriptions.
Is There a Way to Avoid Withdrawal Symptoms?
There is no way to avoid the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal. If you continue to abuse Klonopin, these symptoms will appear earlier and earlier after your last dose and will be worse. When you choose to deal with your addiction, it will require “detox,” and you will experience symptoms that are affected by how long you have been abusing the drug.
Fortunately, if you choose to deal with your addiction, you can seek professional help to be treated for your withdrawals and develop strategies to ensure you avoid addiction in the future.
How Can I Be Treated for Klonopin Withdrawals?
There are few medical interventions for Klonopin withdrawal, so professionals do their best to calm symptoms as best they can. This means hydration, non-addictive sleeping aids, and monitoring to ensure the most severe symptoms (like seizures) do not cause further harm.
While you can “fight through” withdrawals on your own, you run the risk of serious symptoms occurring without support. There is a risk in these cases of permanent injury, including brain damage. If you have other underlying diseases, there is also a chance of stroke, heart attack, and even death.
When Might Rehab Be Appropriate?
If you have been abusing Klonopin, and especially if this has been occurring for months or longer, you should not try and cease taking the medication on your own. Rehabilitation centers have the resources to help you through your withdrawal by closely monitoring you as you gradually come off the drug.
Rehabilitation help can also address the underlying addictive behavior that has played the role in Klonopin abuse. This includes psychotherapy, which has been shown to have a great effect in preventing further abuse, and drug education to properly understand how addiction occurs.
Rehabilitation programs come in a variety of scenarios. While most people think about long-term residential treatment, centers also provide short-term and outpatient care. This means that when the worst of the withdrawal symptoms have subsided, you will not have to be spending every day in hospital while you continue to recover.
Rehabilitation centers also offer the resources for long-term support in the community, as recovery from addiction is a process that works best with a strong network of people who can help you through it.
Withdrawal from ceasing the use of Klonopin can be severe and debilitating. By recognizing that these symptoms are unavoidable for those who abuse the medication, we can better come to terms with this addiction and seek the help that is needed. Rehabilitation centers can help you through the worst of the withdrawal symptoms, and provide the support and resources to tackle the underlying problems that lead you to abuse in the first place.
By following these links, you can find a rehabilitation center near you, and discuss how best to approach addiction in your life.
If you or a loved one are struggling with Klonopin abuse or addiction, you are not alone. Treatment and support are readily available. Contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 for information on support and treatment.
You can also find a list of treatment centers near you on our website to help get you on the path to recovery.
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