Klonopin Abuse: Symptoms and Treatment
Klonopin is a prescription benzodiazepine, often prescribed for seizures, but also for anxiety and panic attacks. It goes under the commercial name of clonazepam, but is also referred to as kpins. The drug calms your brain and nerves, but is highly addictive because your body comes to depend on the drug to calm down. Between 10-12 percent of the population takes some form of benzodiazepine according to the American Academy of Family Physicians. Most people take the medicine for only a short time period to avoid the risks of addiction. Unfortunately, Klonopin is the 3rd-most-abused prescription tranquilizer according to SAMHSA.
You may have initially started taking Klonopin with a prescription from your doctor. Addiction starts when you start adding an extra dose on occasion. Eventually, that extra dose will feel necessary and you’ll increase your dosage until you need Klonopin to function. Any use of the drug outside of your prescription is considered abuse.
One famous example of Klonopin abuse is Stevie Nicks, the former lead singer of Fleetwood Mac. She was originally prescribed Klonopin by a doctor to help her rehab from a cocaine addiction as a support mechanism. She ended up taking Klonopin for eight years, taking larger and larger doses. She became unable to work and wouldn’t leave the house, instead staying home to eat junk food and watch TV.
“Somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell,” Nicks said. “Klonopin is more deadly than coke.”
After recognizing her addiction, she entered and completed a treatment program, starting her own road to recovery. While it continues to be a struggle for her, she knows that it was necessary for her future to overcome the habit. Anyone addicted to Klonopin should do the same.
Causes of Klonopin Abuse
Klonopin has signs and symptoms you can watch out for if you’re worried that you’re becoming addicted or believe a loved one might be. If you think you’re getting addicted, it’s wise to reach out for help and treatment as quickly as possible.
Often, addiction is a co-occurring disorder, meaning that there is an underlying cause of the addiction that is a mental health issue. In these situations, it is wise to seek treatment for both the co-occurring disorder as well as the addiction. Almost 95 percent of individuals who are admitted to a treatment facility for benzodiazepine abuse are poly-substance abusers.
Common co-occurring disorders include:
- Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
- Panic disorder
- Poly-substance and stimulant abuse
- Anxiety disorder
- Depressive Disorder
Since the drug is highly addictive both psychologically and physically, the odds of developing an addiction are high. There are a number of causes, often combined, that can lead to Klonopin addiction.
- Environmental and Genetic Causes: Often, people who are in households with addiction learn to model the substance-abuse behaviors of their parents and view it as a normal way to cope with reality. They are often not taught constructive ways to manage their stress, trauma, and depression.
- Psychological Causes: Addiction to Klonopin is closely related to addiction to other substances, meaning someone who is addicted to other drugs or alcohol is also likely to develop a Klonopin addiction if exposed to the drug. It is often used by addicts to enhance the calming and positive effects or counteract negative effects of other drugs.
Signs and Symptoms of Klonopin Abuse
Klonopin generally takes effect within an hour of taking the medication, when your body will start to feel calmer and more relaxed. Effects will last from six to 24 hours and can include a euphoric feeling, a relaxed mind-set, slowed thoughts, feelings of calm, relaxed body, reduced muscle tension, drowsiness, and prolonged sleep.
- Short-Term Effects: The short-term side effects of Klonopin use include confusion, respiratory difficulty, involuntary eye movements, central nervous system depression, rashes, painful urination, pale skin, loss of appetite, blurred vision, drowsiness, and in some rare cases, seizures.
- Long-Term Effects: If you continue to take Klonopin for an extended period of time, you’re at an increased risk of serious side effects including thoughts of self-harm, behavior and mood changes, coordination issues, loss of memory, sex-drive changes, and dizziness.
- Overdose Symptoms: If you’re having violent side effects, you’ve probably overdosed on Klonopin. Side effects to watch out for include blackouts (completely forgetting the overdose event), drowsiness, dizziness, severe confusion, upset stomach, constipation, paranoia or hallucinations, aggression and violent behavior, slurred speech, slow breathing, depression, loss of consciousness, and coma.
These signs will intensify over time as dosage or frequency increases. Similarly, mixing Klonopin with other substances will increase the side effects and lead to particularly dangerous outcomes such as death.
If you start to experience these symptoms, alert your doctor or go to the hospital at once. The sooner you start treatment, the easier the path will be.
Klonopin Detox and Withdrawal
Withdrawing from a Klonopin prescription can be difficult and is best done with medical assistance and supervision. With the help of the right rehab center, you can cut down on the symptoms of withdrawal as you slowly ween off the drug. You’ll also have access to medications to help manage the withdrawal symptoms. Well-known symptoms of withdrawal include:
- Drug cravings
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle ache
- Abdominal cramps
As part of your treatment, you’ll work with doctors and counselors who will address your individual problems and concerns. Medical assistance will help handle the physical and chemical side effects of withdrawal while therapists and support groups will be on hand to help you handle the cravings. Counseling and therapy may include the following options, depending on what you and your therapist decide will work best for you.
- Talk Therapy: Dealing with the side effects and learning about addiction can be a complicated process. Talking through concerns, issues, and making sure the patient understands what is happening is the first step to successful, lasting treatment. During talk therapy you learn about addiction, how it works chemically, and why you became addicted. You’ll get to explore your concerns and fears while learning coping skills to help you handle normal life without drugs.
- Cognitive Behavioral Therapy: This is important for developing and practicing the skills necessary to behave without reaching for drugs in the real world. This is often done through education followed by role-playing certain situations.
- Family Therapy: Often, the involvement of the family is key to a successful treatment. The whole family will attend these therapy sessions to learn about active listening and effective communication. They will also likely involve some education so that family members understand addiction and can support the patient as they transition back into normal life.
- Contingency Management: This therapy supports positive behaviors with awards. If the patient manages to stay clean, the therapist provides a reward. Rewards grow if the person remains clean.
- Motivational Therapy: In motivational therapy, the patient spends time reflecting on how and why their life would be better without the addiction and then making an action plan to make those goals a reality. The therapist provides support and guidance, but the patient learns the skills to develop and reach these goals on their own.
- Support Groups: Meetings in rehab facilities or within your community can provide support in the form of peers suffering through similar issues. They walk through processes to help them think about their addiction in a positive fashion and provide the help for them to deal with their problems on a daily basis.
Paying for Rehabilitation Treatment
Kicking an addiction to Klonopin is easier if you don’t have to do it alone and can have the support of medicine and therapy. If you’re worried about the cost, it’s good to know that the vast majority of insurance programs cover drug treatment and rehabilitation. Reach out to Rehab-Finder.Org to discuss the specifics of your insurance program and get options that are partially or completely covered. Knowing what you can afford in the sea of expensive options is one step towards choosing the right treatment for you.
Understanding Klonopin Addiction
Klonopin is the third-most-prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States, right behind Xanax and Ativan. According to the US DEA, it is also the second-most-diverted benzodiazepine, and about 5 million people in the US over 12 have used Klonopin at some point. Addiction to Klonopin can happen to anyone.
You can beat a Klonopin addiction. It will be a difficult journey, but with medical and professional support, as well as encouragement from friends, family, and support groups, you can make it happen.
If you think someone you love is addicted to Klonopin, it’s ok to try and talk to them about it and help them seek treatment. You can approach them one-on-one or bring together a group of friends and family for an intervention. Make sure you’re open to listening and having a positive and productive conversation. Explain to them how their use of the drug is affecting you and those around them as well as how you see it affecting them. Show them their destructive behaviors and that they have friends and family who want to help and who care deeply about them.
Don’t try to have a conversation with them while they’re under the influence of Klonopin. You should also make sure the conversation is about how to find treatment, not about their failure or other hurts. Don’t throw blame, just offer support and guidance.
You can beat a Klonopin addiction. It will be a difficult journey, but with medical and professional support, as well as encouragement from friends, family, and support groups, you can make it happen. Instead of letting your need for the drug control your life, take control of your future.
Reach out to Rehab-Finder.Org today for help finding the right treatment facility for you.