klonopin withdrawal symptomsA few years ago, Fleetwood Mac singer Stevie Nicks came out and spoke publicly about her addiction to drugs, in particular Klonopin. She was prescribed Klonopin by a psychiatrist after attending the Betty Ford clinic in hopes that the drug would aid in her sobriety. Nicks has since gone on the record stating that Klonopin is a horrible drug that she believes is worse than cocaine.

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine, a member of a family of prescription drugs with a variety of purposes, including alleviating anxiety, seizures and depression, and assisting with alcohol detox. Unfortunately, this class of drugs has claimed the lives of many. Nicks may be one of the lucky ones, but celebrities like Anna Nicole Smith and Don Simpson were not. It’s reported that these figures were on Klonopin and possibly other benzos at the time of their deaths. So why is Klonopin still so popular? Why do people take it and abuse it?

What Klonopin Does

When Klonopin (clonazepam) enters the body, it interacts with the brain’s GABA receptors, creating a calming and relaxing effect on the body. For those with panic or anxiety disorders, or epilepsy, this can ease those nervous symptoms and be very helpful. It is rapidly absorbed into the bloodstream and stays there for some time due to its long half-life. Generally, this would mean that you’d need to take it less frequently. However, Klonopin is highly addictive. The National Alliance on Mental Illness notes that even taking Klonopin as prescribed for two weeks or more can cause physical dependence.

It’s been observed that typical side effects of taking the drug include drowsiness, impaired motor functions, increased salivation, and increased appetite, among others. With increased use, Klonopin can cause a litany of more serious side effects that include:

  • Insomnia
  • Tremors
  • Psychosis
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Dehydration
  • Heart palpitations
  • Confusion
  • Vertigo
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Depression
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors (observed after even just one week of use, according to prescription information on Drugs.com; this symptom affects about one in 500 people)

Dangers of Klonopin

When combined with other benzodiazepines, alcohol, or illicit drugs like cocaine or heroin, the result can be deadly. The journal Current Opinion in Psychiatry estimates that benzos are taken by at least one-half of illicit drug users, primarily for the enhancement of hallucinogenic effects and to counteract the “upper” and “downer” feelings of certain drugs.

More serious side effects like dependence can occur with long-term use, even though Klonopin is only supposed to be taken for a short period of time (estimated between two and four weeks). But, considering that one can grow dependent on the substance even during that time, it is hard to imagine how one cannot become addicted to the drug.

When someone abruptly stops using Klonopin or any other benzodiazepine, there is a hidden danger called “benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome,” a highly uncomfortable and sometimes painful experience. In her interview, Nicks described detox from Klonopin as “somebody opened up a door and pushed me into hell.” In addition to an elevated heart rate and increased blood pressure, one can expect that this discontinuation of Klonopin may induce nightmares, hallucinations, panic attacks, muscle spasms, insomnia and seizures. The severity of these symptoms often correlates to the dosage and frequency of use.

Getting Treatment for Klonopin Addiction

If you or someone you know is addicted to Klonopin, it is very important that you seek the help of a qualified, licensed professional, such as a clinician at Alta Mira. For the reasons listed above, it is imperative that you seek medical assistance when discontinuing Klonopin use. The withdrawal symptoms alone can be dangerous and increase your risk of relapse if you withdraw without professional supervision.

Our staff at Alta Mira can help you detox from Klonopin safely and securely in a manner that is comfortable to you. We can then develop an individualized treatment plan for you that addresses your symptoms and gives you back control of your life. Don’t wait to get help. Call us today, and start your road to recovery now.