What Is Klonopin? — Uses, Benefits, and Side Effects
Though intended as a therapeutic medication, Klonopin is one of many prescription drugs with the potential for abuse. Highly addictive, Klonopin has been known to afflict both prescribed and recreational users with intense physical and emotional dependence. So if you or a loved one is considering Klonopin use, it’s vital to first weigh the risks and benefits of this depressant medication.
What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a brand name of the generic drug clonazepam. Classified as a benzodiazepine, Klonopin is considered a depressant, meaning it lowers brain activity and blocks certain receptors to reduce symptoms such as anxiety and stress.
Klonopin was originally prescribed to help manage seizures in patients with epilepsy. But due to its additional calming effects in the brain, now doctors may also prescribe Klonopin as a treatment for panic attacks, anxiety, and short-term insomnia. Some physicians also use Klonopin to ease the stress of withdrawal from other substances, but as Klonopin is itself highly addictive, this may be a case of jumping out of the frying pan and into the fire.
Klonopin is usually taken orally, either swallowed as a pill or taken as a quick-dissolve tablet placed on the tongue. In a typical prescription, it may be suggested for use up to three times a day.
Side Effects of Klonopin
Even when used responsibly, Klonopin may present with some side effects. These can include:
- Drowsiness or tiredness
- Dizziness and loss of coordination
- Increased saliva production
A small number of users may also experience:
- Suicidal thoughts
- Other mood disorders
Serious allergic reactions to Klonopin are rare. However, users should get medical help right away if experiencing any signs of a severe reaction, including:
- Itching or swelling (especially of the face, tongue, or throat)
- Severe dizziness
- Trouble breathing
Because it is a benzodiazepine, Klonopin is highly habit-forming. Some users begin developing an addiction to Klonopin within weeks of usage, even if they follow their prescription closely.
Since Klonopin is designed to block anxiety and improve relaxation, some users who develop a physical dependence find that they can no longer maintain calm or relaxation without the drug. On top of physical addiction, this increases their mental and emotional reliance on Klonopin, making it increasingly difficult to quit their usage.
To make matters worse, Klonopin addiction goes hand in hand with increasing tolerance for the drug. This means that users often need to up their dosage or regularity of use to experience the same calming effects. For users with a medical prescription, this is often the gateway into full-on addiction, leading them to exceed recommended use and worsen their dependence.
Signs of Klonopin addiction may include:
- Consistently craving Klonopin
- Continuing to use Klonopin despite negative side effects or consequences
- Wanting to stop usage but being unable to
- Loss of interest in social relationships or professional responsibilities
- Worsening financial issues
Since Klonopin promotes relaxation, it has also attracted use as a purely recreational street drug. Some slang terms for Klonopin include Benzos, Downers, K-pins, or Tranks.
When taken in higher than recommended doses, Klonopin can trigger a brief, euphoric high followed by a period of haziness and intoxication. At high enough amounts, it may also trigger hallucinations.
Some recreational users may begin by exceeding the bounds of their own Klonopin prescriptions, while others may buy the pills from a prescribed user or obtain a falsified prescription for pharmacy refills. Some take the drug in its usual oral form, while others may crush Klonopin pills into powder and snort them for faster, more intense effects.
Potential signs of Klonopin abuse:
- Dizziness or vertigo
- Confusion or impaired thought processes
- Slowed reaction time
- Impaired judgment
- Reduced libido
When used recreationally, Klonopin is often abused with alcohol. This is intended to intensify the effect of both substances but can also increase the risk factor, leading to blackouts and, potentially, respiratory failure.
Klonopin is also paired with stimulants such as cocaine to counteract its sedative qualities and help users stay awake to experience the high. However, combining Klonopin with any other substance raises the risk of overdose exponentially.
Signs of a Klonopin overdose may include:
- Slurred speech
- Extreme drowsiness
- Poor coordination and unsteady walking
- Reduced attention span or memory impairment
If you or someone else is displaying signs of a Klonopin overdose, seek immediate medical attention by dialing 911 for emergency services.
Once a Klonopin user develops a physical dependence on the drug, they may also experience withdrawal symptoms if they stop taking it. Essentially, without Klonopin’s calming effect, a user’s brain may then compensate by becoming hyperactive.
The severity of their withdrawal will depend on several factors, such as how long and how often they have been using Klonopin, the size of their typical dose, whether the Klonopin was ever mixed with other substances, and the baseline of their mental health.
Symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal may include:
- Increased body temperature or sweating
- Increased pulse rate
- Poor coordination
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Hand tremors
Withdrawal symptoms can range from moderate to potentially lethal, making it dangerous for Klonopin users to attempt quitting without proper medical support and supervision. Therefore, it is strongly recommended that users trying to get clean do so in a supervised rehabilitation program.
Famous Cases of Klonopin Addiction
While drug addiction of any kind still has a significant public stigma, some celebrities are using their platform to speak out about experiences with addiction and normalize the need for support and rehabilitation.
Concerning Klonopin, famous Fleetwood Mac singer and independent musical artist Stevie Nicks is one notable figure who has spoken about her addiction with great candor. As with many Klonopin users, Nicks was originally prescribed the drug by her doctor, leading her to have a false sense of security as to its safety.
In 2001, Nicks publicly acknowledged her struggles, saying, “I didn’t really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy. I really didn’t realize it was that drug because I was taking it from a doctor and it was prescribed.”
Identify Klonopin Abuse with Countrywide Testing
Klonopin can be highly addictive, even if prescribed and used correctly as recommended by a doctor. If you think a loved one may be struggling with Klonopin addiction, it's important to get them medical help as soon as possible.
Of course, it’s not always easy to tell whether a loved one is abusing drugs. If you need answers, Countrywide can help. We offer easy, multipanel drug tests that can be used in the comfort of your own home, letting you know if and when your loved one needs support for substance addiction.
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