Benzodiazepine medications, such as Clonazepam, are a class of drugs that work on the central nervous system as a depressant or sedative. Clonazepam, also known as the brand name “Klonopin”, is typically prescribed by doctors for panic disorders, as its main function is to slow down bodily and brain functions related to anxiety and stress. Unfortunately, however, Klonopin is habit-forming and many users end up becoming physically and psychologically dependent to the drug. In fact, the Drug Abuse Warning Network (DAWN) reported that over 61,000 people sought emergency care for a negative reaction involving the nonmedical, recreational use of clonazepam in 2011. It is, therefore, essential that one knows the side-effects and withdrawal symptoms that may experienced when starting such a medication, along with treatment options if one becomes addicted to the drug.
Clonazepam Side Effects
Although clonazepam can be a temporary solution to calm the nerves of someone in a constant state of anxiety, there are many side-effects that need to be taken into consideration before starting this medication.
Some common side effects of Klonopin (clonazepam) include:
- Loss of appetite
- Loss of orientation
- Sleep disturbances
- Problems with thinking or memory
- Blurred vision
- Sore gums
- Dry mouth
- Runny nose
Rare, and more serious side effects that need a doctor’s immediate attention include:
- Depressed mood or suicidal thoughts
- Abnormal eye movements
- Difficulty speaking
- Excessive bleeding or bruising from reduced platelets in the blood
- Menstrual problems
- Difficulty urinating
- Seizures (especially if the person stops taking the drug suddenly)
- Mood swings and behavioral changes
Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms
As Klonopin can have serious, even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, it is essential that that one tapers off this medication under the direct supervision of a medical professional. As such, this medical professional will need to monitor vital signs such as heart rate, blood pressure, and respiration levels to ensure that no bodily function be compromised during the detox.
Physical symptoms of withdrawal may include:
- Stomach pain
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Blurred vision
- Irregular heart-rate or palpitations
- Short-term memory loss
- Impaired respiration
- Impaired coordination
Furthermore, psychological withdrawal symptoms can include:
- Mental confusion
- Drastic mood swings
- Impaired short-term memory
- Difficulty concentrating
- Drug cravings
Since Klonopin has a long half life (18-50 hours), meaning the drug is effective for a long period of time, the user usually does not experience withdrawal symptoms until 1-3 days after their last dose. Additionally, the timeframe of withdrawal can differ from person-to-person depending on the severity of addiction, the genetic make-up of the individual and any other co-occurring disorders that the user is experiencing (anxiety or depression, etc.). Generally speaking, however, many people detoxing off clonazepam report feeling rebound symptoms of anxiety and insomnia lasting 2-4 days, with some acute symptoms peaking around 2 weeks after the last dose and lasting anywhere from a week to a month.
How to Get Help for an Addiction to Clonazepam
Quitting clonazepam cold turkey can have serious, even life-threatening consequences and, therefore, needs to be monitored by a medical professional that can help taper the user off the drug safely and effectively. Detoxing off clonazepam, or Klonopin, can be done either through a clinic where a doctor can help guide the user on decreasing the dosages slowly and effectively, or it can be done through a drug rehab center where a medical professional is on staff 24/7 ensuring that the user is taken care of if a medical emergency were to arise.
If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to clonazepam, don’t delay seeking treatment. There are passionate medical professionals out there that would love to guide you on the path of health and well-being that comes from long-term sobriety.