So many people have gotten addicted to this benzodiazepine, and they need treatment to recover. But because it is a prescription drug, people do not truly understand how addictive it can really be.
Klonopin is one of the top ten most addictive substances being abused in the United States. While it is available by prescription, it can also be found on the street as well. Many experts believe that it is highly over-prescribed and that less dangerous options should be chosen instead. Doctors prescribe benzodiazepine drugs at about 66 million appointments per year in the U.S. This drug is one of the most commonly prescribed.
Many of those who are addicted to Klonopin do not realize it. This is supposed to be a drug that people only take for a short time. But doctors have been known to leave their patients on it for years. Fortunately, recovery is possible through professional treatment. This typically means going through detox and rehab. Some of the best options for treatment are available right here in Idaho.
As we mentioned previously, Klonopin is a benzodiazepine drug that is used to treat mood disorders and anxiety.
Doctors also prescribe it to treat severe seizures and movement disorders.
Klonopin can be extremely effective when it is taken appropriately. This means prescribed only for a short period of time or as a PRN (taken when needed). Long-term use is not recommended because of the potential for long-term effects. This is especially true for the elderly population, who tends to experience more severe side effects with this drug.
The active ingredient in Klonopin is clonazepam. In comparison to many other anti-anxiety medications, clonazepam has a rather long half-life. It takes anywhere from 30 to 40 hours for 50% of the drug to leave your system.
This means that it can take anywhere from 6.88 to 9.17 days for Klonopin to completely leave your body. This length of time may also be affected by the dosage that was taken.
When the liver metabolizes Klonopin, it breaks it down into various metabolites. One of these metabolites is 7-aminoclonazepam. The actual half-life of 7-aminoclonazepam is unknown. Most researchers speculate that it's the same as clonazepam, if not shorter. This means that the body should clear everything within 2 weeks of the last dose.
Klonopin acts on the gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) system in the brain. The GABA system stimulates various pathways in the brain. The GABA molecules are the messengers. They are responsible for sending a ‘stop’ signal to the brain.
When the GABA molecules aren’t sending enough signals, the brain becomes overstimulated. This can lead to feelings of anxiety and the development of many psychiatric disorders.
To calm down the brain, drugs like clonazepam will attach to the GABA receptors. This enhances the GABA molecules ability to send signals. Basically, it’s like giving the GABA molecules a loudspeaker. Fewer GABA molecules can send a stronger message.
This causes the brain to calm down, which can create a relaxing effect. This is beneficial for treating seizures, panic disorders and anxiety. Essentially, the medication enhances the GABA system every time that the brain starts to panic.
All benzodiazepines act on the GABA system; however, Klonopin still remains one of the most popular options available. This is due to how clonazepam attaches to the GABA receptors.
Unlike other benzodiazepines, clonazepam only forms a weak bond with the GABA receptors. This means that it doesn't have a strong effect. On top of that, it is not as lipid soluble as other medications. This means that it is less likely to cause side effects like amnesia.
Only a small dose of clonazepam is needed to achieve the results desired. Most doctors will start patients off with a dose of 0.25mg. The medication comes in a tablet form. The pills should be taken twice a day for 3 days.
After which point, the dosage is increased to 0.5mg. The maximum daily dose for Klonopin should not exceed 4mg when treating anxiety and panic disorders. The maximum dose increases to 20mg if the medication is used to treat seizures.
The recommended dosages will decrease significantly if the medication is prescribed to children. Children should take this medication for an even shorter amount of time. Long-term use is not recommended.
Both Klonopin and Xanax can treat anxiety. Klonopin, however, can be also used to treat co-occurring disorders like restless leg syndrome, burning mouth syndrome, tremors, social anxiety and sleep walking disorders.
Clonazepam is normally only used for up to 4 weeks. As a result, it offers less severe withdrawal symptoms compared to Xanax. It's also usually much easier to withdraw from clonazepam due to this reason.
Xanax, on the other hand, is solely used to treat anxiety and panic attacks. While it is also only used for short-term purposes, it comes with a lot more withdrawal symptoms. It also is more likely to interact with other drugs and medications in comparison to clonazepam. This is not ideal for those who struggle with more than one condition or illness.
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Even properly Klonopin use can lead to tolerance and drug dependency. The risks increase if the use extends over a longer period of time.
Since clonazepam acts on the GABA system, it will alter the body's ability to produce these signals. After a while, the body will begin to adjust to the increased levels of GABA molecules. This is known as developing a tolerance. When this happens, the patient will need to take a larger dose to achieve the same results. The dangers of Klonopin lie in how quickly tolerance and dependence can develop.
After awhile, the body will function sub-optimally unless there's Klonopin in the system. This causes the body to become dependent on the drug. Once drug dependence is established, withdrawal symptoms will kick in when quitting.
Those who have taken the medication for a longer period of time are more likely to get addicted to it. The same can be said for those who have taken larger doses or who take their doses more frequently.
As many as 25% of people who have long-term opioid prescriptions in Idaho are also being prescribed benzodiazepines. This is according to a study from Idaho State University. Their study found that out of all prescriptions that were sent to the Idaho Drug Monitoring Program in 2017, 201,000 people had short-term opioid prescriptions. This means that they had been taking these drugs for less than 90 days. Another 101,000 people had long term prescriptions, and out of this population, 25,000 of them had prescriptions for benzos as well.
Opioids are prescription painkillers, such as Vicodin or Oxycodone. Benzos are prescribed as sleeping aids or for anxiety or seizures. But they are both depressant drugs, so the combination increases a person’s risk for overdose or even death. There are only a few times when using both would be appropriate, such as when providing end of life care.
Interestingly enough, 56% of the patients reported getting these drugs from the same doctor. But there are many doctors across Idaho who do not understand the risks involved with prescribing them at the same time.
The effects of this medication become more pronounced if it is mixed with other drugs and alcohol. It's actually very dangerous to mix this medication with alcohol. These substances both affect the same chemical pathways in the brain. This means that their effects are significantly magnified.
There's also a much larger chance of overdosing. It’s best to stay away from alcohol when taking this medication. Mixing the two will only cause harm to your body. It’s best to abstain from drinking when taking this medication. Talk to your doctor to determine when it is safe to drink again.
Clonazepam use has been linked to some side effects. Some side effects are quite mild, while others can be quite severe. Talk to your doctor, so you know what to expect.
While these side effects are considered to be quite mild, report them to your doctor. It's important that the side effects are documented. Your doctor may need to alter the dosage or the treatment. If the side effects are intense enough, your doctor might switch you to a new medication altogether.
In these situations, stop taking the medication immediately. Document when the side effects occur and the intensity of them. You’ll need to give your doctor this information for him or her to make an informed decision about your condition.
Since it is so easy to build tolerance to Klonopin, it's also easy to overdose on this medication. From 1999 to 2006, 17% of opioid overdose deaths involved the use of Clonazepam. This percentage is only rising more and more each year.
It’s important to know what an overdose looks like. You’ll need to react quickly to reduce the damage that it may cause. Some common signs of a Klonopin overdose include:
In worst-case scenarios, an overdose can result in coma or death. Those who mix Klonopin with alcohol and other drugs are much more likely to overdose. The potency of all substances in the mixed cocktail will increase. This makes them more dangerous. Dealing with an overdose like that will also be much more difficult. The damages are more severe, and are likely to be permanent.
Dealing with an overdose can be scary. If someone you know is overdosing, it's important to act quickly. Every second that you waste can make the situation graver.
To treat an overdose, the emergency responders may administer medication like flumazenil. This medication is a benzodiazepine agonist, and can reverse the effects of an overdose. The drug will bind to the same receptors as clonazepam. In most cases, it only takes 10 minutes for flumazenil to reverse the effects of a benzodiazepine overdose.
Once the affected individual's condition is stabilized, the doctors may pump their stomach. This is to remove the rest of the drugs in their system.
Intravenous fluids are then given to the patient to stabilize their condition and blood sugar levels. The intravenous fluids will also keep them hydrated. The administration of intravenous fluids can prevent seizures and heart attacks.
If you know someone who has overdosed, it’s time to talk to him or her about his or her addiction. Reach out to them about your concerns, or even stage an intervention.
A study in JAMA Psychiatry indicated that 1 in 20 adults had a prescription for a benzodiazepine drug in 2008. That number has certainly increased, which has led to an increase in overdoses as these drugs grew in popularity.
In 2013, benzos accounted for 31% of deaths from prescription drug overdoses in the United States. This number is more than five times what it was in 1996.
The people of Idaho have certainly felt the pain of this increase in overdoses over the last several years. There are even those who believe we may be ushering in a benzodiazepine epidemic unless something is done to change this overprescribing problem.
There are a plenty of withdrawal symptoms associated with quitting benzodiazepines, like Klonopin. Sudden withdrawals can cause as many as 40 side effects to emerge at the same time. These withdrawal symptoms can be range from mild to severe.
Those who try to quit cold turkey will be more likely to experience intense withdrawal symptoms. These withdrawal symptoms can potentially become life threatening. In worst-case scenarios, patients can go into a coma and may even die. For the best results, attempt to get sober under medical supervision and with a customized treatment plan.
Most people take benzodiazepines, like Klonopin, to treat anxiety and insomnia. While these medications can be quite effective, quitting may cause the initial diagnosis to worsen.
This is known as the rebound effect. The rebound effect will be much more pronounced in patients who do not withdraw properly. Quitting cold turkey can cause anxiety levels to increase 10% from before treatment. Users who slowly taper off of clonazepam are less likely to experience rebound effects. For many of these people, their anxiety never returns.
Klonopin withdrawals can last for quite a long time. The withdrawal period will result in intense emotions. Most people will feel depressed and emotional after about 24 hours of quitting.
Those who experience acute or protracted withdrawal symptoms will be able to tell you just how dangerous Klonopin use can be. Some patients will experience permanent long-term damages seemingly out of nowhere. Protracted withdrawal symptoms appear in as many as 10 to 15% of patients.
Unfortunately, nothing can be done to reverse these effects.
Protracted withdrawal symptoms can include psychosis, muscle pain, tinnitus, paraesthesia, painful tremors and more.
As you can see, it is very important to deal with the withdrawal symptoms that go along with quitting Klonopin first. But that should never be the only type of treatment people seek.
Detoxing is the first step in recovery for someone with a Klonopin addiction. Medical detox may be recommended because the individual can take medicine to help with their withdrawal symptoms. The goal is to help the body flush it out and get back to a state of balance. Drug detox should only be done on an inpatient basis due to the risk of complications.
After detoxing, the next step is to go to drug rehab. During rehab, people have the opportunity to talk about why they started using Klonopin. They can receive different types of therapy, including treatment for any co-occurring disorders. This increases their chances of being successful in the long-term.
At Ashwood Recovery, we offer outpatient drug rehab to anyone suffering because of a Klonopin addiction. We have designed our program to be able to provide our clients with three levels of care. This allows us to more personally meet their needs.
We offer our intensive outpatient program, our partial hospitalization program, and traditional outpatient rehab. All of our clients receive personalized assessments to determine which level of care is right for them.
We have a location to make getting treatment as convenient as possible. We are located in Boise.
At Ashwood Recovery, we want our clients to know that we are invested in their recovery. We are in-network with several health insurance plans to help keep costs as low as possible. For our clients who are addicted to Klonopin, we always refer them to a quality detox facility that we know and trust. Afterward, they are invited to return to our program for further treatment.