Klonopin Uses, Side Effects & Addiction Symptoms

Klonopin (Clonazepam) is a long-acting prescription benzodiazepine and sedative that is commonly used to treat panic disorder. The drug has addictive properties and can result in serious side effects and withdrawal symptoms if use is stopped abruptly.
Evidence Based
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What is Klonopin?

Klonopin (Clonazepam) is a prescription benzodiazepine and sedative that is approved to treat panic disorder, with or without agoraphobia. It also helps prevent and control seizures, especially in those with epilepsy. Lastly, benzodiazepines are also commonly used to treat those with insomnia (sleeping difficulties) and alcohol withdrawal.

Klonopin pill

Klonopin is a long-acting benzo that can stay in the body for up to 50 hours. The medication is a yellow crystalline powder that comes in a tablet form. It is usually taken orally in multiple doses throughout the day.

In short, panic disorder is when a person experiences sudden and frequent episodes of intense fear. Many people with this disorder continuously fear when another panic attack will occur again, leaving them feeling anxious and hopeless. Symptoms of these attacks include shortness of breath, chest pain, heart palpitations, dizziness, nausea, and sweating.

Depending on your age and reason for the prescription, standard doses of Klonopin vary. For example, typical doses for seizure disorders and panic disorder are as follows:

  • For adults with seizure disorders, the dose should not exceed 1.5 mg a day and is typically separated into three doses. However, the maximum daily dose is 20 mg.
  • For pediatric patients with seizure disorders, including infants and children, the usual dose is between .01 and .02 mg a day and is separated into two or three doses.
  • The first dose for adults with panic disorder should be 0.25 mg a day. After about three days of use, the dose will increase to 1 mg a day.
  • Elderly patients should begin with very low doses of Klonopin. They must also be monitored by a medical professional.
  • Children under 18 years of age typically do not take this medication for panic disorder.

Klonopin is extremely addictive if taken long-term.

Graphic human body showing symptoms.

Klonopin Abuse and Side Effects

Taking high doses or using Klonopin for an extended period of time can result in abuse symptoms. Common side effects of this medication include, but are not limited to:

  • Poor coordination
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Fainting
  • Depression
  • Drowsiness
  • Numbness
  • Memory issues
  • Speech issues
  • Impaired cognition
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Low libido
  • Vertigo
  • Poor judgment

Drowsiness occurs in about 50 percent of patients who take Klonopin for seizure disorders, while poor coordination occurs in 30 percent of patients.

Graphic of head filled with pills

Is Klonopin Addictive?

All benzodiazepines (benzos), which are a class of psychoactive drugs, have highly addictive properties. They also have a significant risk of tolerance and dependence. However, Klonopin is one of the most addictive benzos that is commonly abused for its sedative effects.

Additionally, people who take this medication have a higher risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors and may notice extreme changes in mood (e.g., CNS depression). Increased aggression, hostility, poor sleep, and irritability are also common.

Lastly, allergic reactions and fatal overdoses are possible. This is because Klonopin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, which means it slows down your heart rate and breathing. When taken in large doses, coma or death can occur.

If you experience the following symptoms, they could indicate a more serious problem, such as an overdose:

  • Worsening or more frequent seizures
  • Shallow breathing
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired memory
  • Fluttering in your chest
  • Severe drowsiness and dizziness
  • Involuntary eye movements
  • Low attention span
  • Unsteadiness and lack of coordination
Two pills mixing equals dangerous

Klonopin Drug Interactions

Combining Klonopin with other drugs, such as opioids, can result in serious health complications because extreme sedation can happen. Possible complications include respiratory depression, coma, and death.

In addition, some people snort cocaine or take other stimulants to counteract Klonopin’s sedative effects. On the other hand, others drink alcohol to enhance the calming effects of the medication. All of these drug combinations are extremely dangerous and can result in fatal outcomes. In particular, drinking alcohol while taking Klonopin can slow down your CNS to the point where you stop breathing altogether.

Graphic of head filled with pills

Klonopin Addiction and Withdrawal Symptoms

Common signs of a Klonopin addiction include persistent cravings for the drug and continuing to use it despite knowing the negative consequences. You may also develop financial or legal issues, lose interest in once enjoyable activities, and want to quit but not be able to do so.

If you suddenly stop taking the medication after using it long-term, you may also experience withdrawal symptoms. These include:

  • Seizures
  • Tremors
  • Muscle cramping
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Intense anxiety
  • Psychosis
  • Profuse sweating
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Heart palpitations
  • Insomnia
  • Increased blood pressure

Side effects of Klonopin withdrawal can be deadly (due to the risk for seizures), so you should not quit without professional medical supervision.

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Klonopin Addiction Treatment Options

Klonopin is habit-forming, so psychological addiction and physical dependence develop quickly. If you or a loved one is addicted to this medication, you should seek treatment immediately to prevent overdose and death. Medical detox, medications, and behavioral therapy are all necessary to withdraw from Klonopin safely and effectively.

Common medications that aid in the Klonopin withdrawal process include:

  • Serotonin reuptake inhibitors — including Prozac and Paxil, which help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Anticonvulsant medications — such as carbamazepine and Tegretol, which help control seizures during withdrawal.
  • Melatonin — a naturally-occurring hormone that assists in regulating the sleep-wake cycle.

Beyond detox and medications, behavioral therapy and counseling also effectively treat benzodiazepine addictions. More specifically, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) helps people manage stress, triggers, expectations, and behaviors related to Klonopin after the withdrawal detox is complete.

Klonopin is challenging and dangerous to quit without medical supervision. Find treatment today.


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Resources

“Clonazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine, medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682279.html.

“Clonazepam (Oral Route) Description and Brand Names.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 1 Feb. 2020, www.mayoclinic.org/drugs-supplements/clonazepam-oral-route/description/drg-20072102.

“KLONOPIN TABLETS.” FDA Approved Labeling Text, October 2013. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2013/017533s053,020813s009lbl.pdf

“Side Effects of Klonopin (Clonazepam), Warnings, Uses.” RxList, RxList, 20 Dec. 2017, www.rxlist.com/klonopin-side-effects-drug-center.htm#overview.

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Updated on: July 3, 2020
Author
Alyssa Hill
About
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Medically Reviewed: February 18, 2020
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Annamarie Coy,
BA, CADACII/ICADC, ICPR, MATS
About
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