Klonopin, also known by the names clonazepam and K-pin, is often prescribed to reduce anxiety from panic attacks and control or prevent seizures.
Although it is very useful as an anti-anxiety and anti-convulsant medication, it is also a drug that individuals can form a psychological addiction to, as well as a physical dependence. This is especially true if it is taken in high doses.
What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a sedative medication that acts as a depressant on the body’s central nervous system. It is classified as a benzodiazepine, a class of drugs that is highly addictive. When taken, it causes the user to experience intense feelings of euphoria and relaxation which occur because the brain’s activity is slowed down by the drug.
In addition to being a sedative, Klonopin is a:
- Muscle relaxantAnticonvulsant
This type of medication is meant to be taken for short periods of time and should not be taken for more than a month. When it is taken for longer periods of time, people may become dependent to it.
Doctor Shopping – Often the First Sign of Addiction
According to an article about Klonopin in the CCHR International – The Mental Health Watchdog, “The drug’s “label clearly specifies that it is “recommended” only for short-term use—say, seven to 10 days—but once exposed to the pill’s seductive side-effects, many patients come back for more.”
For example, if a person is prescribed Klonopin for insomnia as a short-term treatment and they enjoy the feeling it gives them, they may keep increasing their dosage to achieve the same, or a higher, high. The addictive effects of the drug build rapidly. When this happens, if the original physician will not renew the prescription, the individual that is addicted to the drug begins “doctor shopping.” They go from doctor to doctor to get new prescriptions to satisfy their craving.
Klonopin Abuse: Signs and Symptoms
When individuals abuse Klonopin the signs and symptoms differ from one person to another. The genetic makeup of the person, the reason the medication was originally prescribed, the dose prescribed, the length of time the individual has been taking the drug, and the amount being used are all contributing factors.
The signs and symptoms of benzos abuse can be divided into four categories: behavioral, cognitive, psychological, and physical.
In addition to “doctor shopping”, a person abusing or addicted to Klonopin may show signs of increased agitation. They may withdraw from family and friends, lose personal relationships, and stop engaging in activities they used to enjoy. Some may seem obsessed with drugs, borrow or steal Klonopin or other benzodiazepines, or forge prescriptions.
Additional behavioral signs of Klonopin abuse include:
- A general lack of motivation
- Financial difficulties
- Legal problems
Cognitive ability and functioning are affected by abusing Klonopin. Continual use of the drug can interrupt the brain’s natural chemistry, resulting in the person having difficulty thinking and communicating with others. They may have trouble processing information and experience short-term memory loss.
Klonopin abuse has many psychological signs and symptoms. Individuals may have suicidal thoughts or have auditory hallucinations. Changes in their personality may occur, and they could have drastic mood swings.
Other psychological symptoms also include:
- General feelings of agitation or irritability
- Increased anxiety
- Hostility or aggression
A person suffering from Klonopin abuse may experience difficulties with motor coordination and balance, feel numbness or tingling in their arms and legs, or have a slowed reaction time. They may tremble, have slurred speech, or feel dizzy. Nausea, vomiting, or diarrhea could occur.
The following are several additional physical signs of Klonopin abuse:
- Muscle tension
- Sensitivity to sights and sounds
- Rashes or hives
- Change in sex drive
- Increased sweating, salivation, and urination
The Effects of Klonopin Abuse
When Klonopin is used for prolonged periods of time, the result is often more dangerous and severe than the negative signs and symptoms listed above. The misuse of this drug can cause respiratory difficulty, central nervous system depression, seizures, liver damage, overdose, or death.
Using Klonopin, or any benzodiazepine, longer than prescribed can lead to “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome,” a very dangerous condition that causes the user’s heart rate and blood pressure to become elevated. In addition, the person has hallucinations, insomnia, nightmares, feelings of anxiety, and panic. They also lose weight, have muscular spasms or cramps, and seizures.
Getting Help for a Klonopin Addiction
If you or a loved one has an addiction to Klonopin or other substance, there is help available. Canyon Vista offers a full continuum of care that combines traditional and holistic therapies with their extended treatment program and caring specialists to guide you along your path to recovery.