Medically Reviewed by Dr. Mohammed Saeed, MD.
Clonazepam, a generic form of Klonopin, is one of the top most addictive drugs in the United States. Classified as a benzodiazepine, clonazepam is prescribed to treat such conditions as panic disorder, Tourette’s syndrome, anxiety, mood disorders, migraines, and seizures. It may also be prescribed to ease symptoms of alcohol withdrawal. Even when taken as prescribed, patients can quickly become addicted.
How does clonazepam work?
Clonazepam affects the central nervous system by increasing the effects of chemicals in the brain that produce relaxation. Users come to depend on the drug to feel the heightened sensations of extreme well-being produced by the drug. Over time, the body and brain become unable to produce the calming chemicals naturally, making users rely on clonazepam to achieve the powerful calming effects they crave. Clonazepam is often abused by those without a prescription, valued for its long-lasting tranquilizing effects. It is often abused in conjunction with other illegal drugs and alcohol, creating a potent recipe for addiction.
Warning signs of clonazepam addiction
Clonazepam has highly addictive characteristics and a long half-life (length of time the drug is active in the body), allowing addiction to happen in a relatively short time. For these reasons, clonazepam is not generally prescribed for long-term usage. Some of the signs of addiction may include:
- Craving the drug despite negative consequences of usage
- Using the drug for a longer duration and higher dose than prescribed
- Unsuccessful attempts at quitting the drug
- Neglecting family, work, social and other activities previously enjoyed
- Confusion, drowsiness
- Short-term memory loss
- Slurred speech
- Loss of motor function
- Paradoxical effects (result is opposite of desired response)
Because clonazepam addiction has numerous negative physical and psychological effects, it is dangerous to abruptly stop usage or to attempt to stop on one’s own. It is important to undergo medical evaluation and continued oversight by addiction specialists to safely wean from the drug.
Side effects of clonazepam withdrawal
Severe, possibly fatal, side effects can occur if drug use is stopped abruptly and without medical supervision. It is important that vital signs are monitored during withdrawal as they can quickly rise to unhealthy levels. Other physical side effects may include nausea, vomiting, insomnia, impaired coordination, tremors, diarrhea, and seizures. Dangerous psychological effects like hallucinations, drastic mood swings, depression, panic, and anger and hostility may also occur.