Contributor/Bio: “Anxiety and Klonopin Dependence” was written by Highland Ridge clinical team member Erica Smith, M.A., NCC. Erica has several years of experience working in the treatment field as a clinical therapist and has her Master’s degree in Clinical Counseling Psychology from the American School of Professional Psychology.
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Klonopin, which is the brand name for the generic drug, Clonazepam, is part of the drug classification group of benzodiazepines. The main purpose of benzodiazepines is to reduce the excess levels of electrical brain activity that is related to feelings of panic and severe anxiety.
Benzodiazepines also work by enhancing the effect of the brain chemical, gamma-aminobutyric acid, which produces a naturally calming effect. In addition to easing symptoms of panic and anxiety, Klonopin is also used to help treat seizures.
When prescribed by a doctor or psychiatrist, and then taken specifically as directed by the pharmacy, the effects of Klonopin will provide the results needed to alleviate the negative symptoms that a person is experiencing.
But while the relief that is provided by the use of this substance is extremely beneficial for those who genuinely need it, it is also a highly addictive substance that can become instantly habit-forming. The purpose of Klonopin is to elicit feelings of relaxation and does so by reducing the presence of agitation and anxiety.
This prolonged feeling of relaxation, however, can provide individuals with such pleasurable sensations that they begin to use the drug on a regular basis in an attempt to consistently reproduce that gratifying state of relaxation.
Why People Begin to Use Klonopin
One of the biggest reasons why people begin to use Klonopin is due to the fact that its effects are fast-acting and occur almost immediately. However, the onset of addiction can occur rapidly as a person begins to develop a psychological and physical dependence on the drug. This form of chemical dependency essentially means that the person who is using Klonopin feels incapable of getting through their day without using the substance.
When the effects of the Klonopin begin to wear off, however, those who are abusing the drug may begin experiencing the sudden onset of short-term negative side-effects, including:
- Overwhelming feelings of fatigue and drowsiness
- Resurgence of intense feelings of anxiety
- Increased agitation
The longer that a person uses Klonopin, the higher his or her risk is of developing more prominent side effects. Some of the most commonly noted side effects known to result from the use of Klonopin include:
- Impaired coordination
- Excess salivation
- Increased need to urinate
- Extreme confusion
- Development of rashes on the skin
- Breathing difficulties
While not everyone who uses Klonopin will experience these side effects, it is important to take note of their potential to develop.
In addition to the aforementioned, there are more serious effects that can result from the misuse of Klonopin, including drastic changes in one’s mental health. Individuals who are using Klonopin as a recreational drug rather than for clinical purposes are at an even higher risk for experiencing a decline in their mental health.
Things such as the sudden onset of severe depression, intense irritability, and extreme restlessness can overpower a person shortly after ingesting the medication. Most frighteningly, an increased risk of suicidal ideation has been identified as a possible effect of using Klonopin when not done so under medical supervision.
So how does one know if the line between using Klonopin for legitimate purposes and using it as a result of being dependent on it has been crossed? The following are some examples of signs that may indicate that an individual’s use of Klonopin has become problematic:
- Forging prescriptions
- Going to more than one doctor in order to obtain numerous prescriptions
- Isolating oneself from family and friends
- Failing to meet scholastic or occupational expectations
- Taking higher dosages of the medication than is prescribed
- Deliberately consuming Klonopin in addition to other illicit substances or alcohol
- Chronic headaches
- Impaired ability to concentrate
- Slowed thinking
- Impaired memory
- Anterograde amnesia
- Mood swings that are atypical for the individual
- Clouded emotional functioning
- Paradoxical sensations of hostility, irritability, and excitement
If you or someone you know has begun displaying any of the previously listed symptoms, it would be extremely beneficial to look into treatment options in order to help prevent the addiction from being more severe. Without appropriate treatment, the long-term effects of prolonged Klonopin abuse can include:
- One beginning to experiment with other mind-altering substances
- Occupational or academic failure
- Familial discord
- Accidental overdose from taking more of the medication than one’s body can handle
- The onset of participating in self-harming behaviors
- The onset of suicidal thoughts and behaviors
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available that can help individuals who are struggling with an addiction at any level.
Inpatient treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, group therapy, support groups, and traditional outpatient therapy are just a few examples of interventions that can be beneficial in helping an individual overcome his or her addiction to Klonopin.