Prescription benzodiazepine (or “benzo”) drugs such as Klonopin can provide lifesaving help and support to people suffering from numerous illnesses ranging from anxiety disorders to epilepsy. However, drugs like Klonopin also have a high potential for abuse and addiction.
In fact, the National Survey on Drug Use and Health estimates that approximately 5.4 million people in the U.S. abused prescription benzodiazepines in 2018 . If you think you or a loved one may be suffering from an addiction to Klonopin, here is a brief overview of how Klonopin addiction works, plus a look at the common signs and symptoms of Klonopin addiction.
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam, a long-acting Benzodiazepine drug. Originally developed to help people with epilepsy manage seizures, doctors later recognized the drug’s powerful calming abilities and began prescribing it to people suffering from panic attacks and certain anxiety disorders. Klonopin is also used to help ease alcohol and drug withdrawal symptoms and is prescribed for insomnia, tremors, certain mental health disorders and phobias, multiple sclerosis, restless leg syndrome, and more.
The Addictive Potential of Klonopin
Though Klonopin has accepted medicinal uses, it can also be a dangerous, habit-forming drug for many people. Similar to other benzodiazepines, Klonopin works as a central nervous system (CNS) depressant, meaning it blocks certain receptors in the brain, thereby soothing the mind and reducing anxiety, stress, and over-activity.
Unfortunately, as with other benzodiazepines, the more you take Klonopin, the more tolerant your body becomes of the drug, meaning you will soon need to consume more and more to feel the same effects . Because of this, many Klonopin users gradually increase their dosage, leading to a dangerous cycle of increased tolerance and physical dependence.
Over time and with increased Klonopin use, the brain will no longer be able to produce feelings of calm and relaxation on its own, making it harder and harder to function “normally” without the drug. For example, individuals who are physically dependent on Klonopin may begin to experience increased anxiety, irritability, depression, and panic attacks when the drug leaves their bodies.
Further, once the body forms a physical dependence on Klonopin, the user will often experience severe withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking the drug. As a result, many Klonopin users continue to take the drug simply to avoid the distress and discomfort of withdrawal.
Common symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal include:
- Impaired coordination
- Increased heart rate
- Panic attacks
Tragically, physical dependence on Klonopin can develop within only a few short weeks and can even affect people who begin using the drug for a legitimate medical reason. One study reveals that 58 to 100 percent of individuals who are prescribed therapeutic doses of benzodiazepines (such as Klonopin) eventually become physically dependent on the drug . Due to the high risk of addiction and abuse, most doctors only prescribe Klonopin for short-term use (usually two weeks or less).
Signs and Symptoms of Klonopin Addiction
If you suspect you or a loved one may be addicted to Klonopin, here are some of the common signs to look out for:
- Persistent cravings for the drug
- Trying/desiring to quit, but being unable to do so
- Continuing to use Klonopin despite experiencing adverse effects
- Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Neglecting social or professional obligations
- Developing financial or legal problems
Additionally, when someone abuses Klonopin, they will often exhibit the following physical symptoms:
- Impaired judgment
- Impaired body function
- Reduced sex-drive
- Delayed reaction time
- Difficulty thinking/concentrating
Treating Klonopin Addiction
If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction to Klonopin, know that you’re not alone. There are numerous ways to find help, support, and healing. Start by talking to your doctor, contacting a substance abuse treatment center, or simply calling the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) National Helpline at 1-800-662-4357 to talk to someone about getting help and to find treatment options in your area. Finally, remember that due to the severity of Klonopin withdrawal symptoms, you should never attempt to detox from Klonopin without professional supervision and help.
 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health Methodological Summary and Definitions. SAMHSA. (0AD). https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/cbhsq-reports/NSDUHMethodsSummDefs2018/NSDUHMethodsSummDefs2018.htm.
 Guina, J., & Merrill, B. (2018). Benzodiazepines I: Upping the Care on Downers: The Evidence of Risks, Benefits and Alternatives. Journal of clinical medicine, 7(2), 17. https://doi.org/10.3390/jcm7020017
About the Author:
Sarah Musick is a freelance writer who specializes in eating disorder awareness and education. After battling with a 4-years long eating disorder, she made it her mission to help others find hope and healing in recovery.
Her work has been featured on numerous eating disorder blogs and websites. When she’s not writing, Sarah is off traveling the world with her husband.
The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer a discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.
We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from multiple physical, emotional, environmental, and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.
Published on March 29, 2021, on AddictionHope.com
Reviewed & Approved on March 29, 2021, by Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC