Clonazepam is used to treat anxiety, panic attacks and sometimes epilepsy. It has a relaxing, sedating effect and brings about a feeling of calmness. It works by increasing the effects of certain chemicals in the body that calm down the nervous system. Although it is prescribed for anxiety disorders, it is also taken recreationally and sold as a street drug. It is an addictive and tolerance building drug and clonazepam addiction can be a serious problem.

How Clonazepam Works

Clonazepam (known as the brand name Klonopin) is a part of the benzodiazepine group of drugs. Benzodiazepines are commonly prescribed for insomnia, anxiety and other similar conditions. Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines reduce anxiety, calm down panic disorder symptoms and help sleep.

They also have a hypnotic effect. They can usually be taken as needed and as a short-term solution to relieve a panic attack or anxiety disorder symptoms. Anxiety symptoms often come and go and clonazepam is a popular anti-anxiety drug as it can be taken whenever symptoms appear.

Clonazepam Addiction Treatment

However, tolerance to clonazepam can develop fast. How fast it develops depends on the individual patient. You can become tolerant to the hypnotic effect very quickly. If clonazepam is used to relieve sleeping problems, tolerance develops fast and you will start to need larger doses very soon. It can take longer to become tolerant to the anxiety-relieving effect, but usually tolerance develops within four to six months. If you increase the dose as your tolerance increases, it will be more and more difficult to eventually stop taking the drug.

Dependence and Withdrawal Symptoms

Clonazepam addiction can include physical or emotional addiction and dependence symptoms. If you lower the dose or stop taking the drug completely, withdrawal symptoms generally start to appear. In people who have been taking therapeutic doses of (prescribed) clonazepam, withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Anxiety
  • Tremors
  • Increased heart rate
  • Increased blood pressure

Some may develop seizures. Some people will suffer from months of insomnia, depression and anxiety even if they have reduced the dosage slowly over time.

Long-term use can lead to relying on the drug too much in everyday life and to loss of self-confidence. Many users do not want to stop taking the drug because they fear the anxiety symptoms will come back. When tolerance increases, some patients may also start to use clonazepam together with alcohol to get the same effect as before.

Another problem is that the majority of benzodiazepine abusers also abuse other drugs, such as heroin or methadone. Heroin or methadone users may use clonazepam to boost the euphoric effects of the drug. Some users mix clonazepam with alcohol. Recreational users sometimes use benzodiazepines at the same time with cocaine to calm down the cocaine “high”.

Treatment for Clonazepam Addiction

Clonazepam addiction can be treated in an inpatient facility or an outpatient treatment program. A treatment in a rehabilitation clinic can be the best option especially for long-term addiction or if there are other drugs involved. In some cases it can be best to stop the use under continuous medical supervision. Staying in a residential rehabilitation center can help to prevent relapses into drug abuse.

Rehabilitation facilities often offer detoxification programs as well as counseling, therapy and other support to help you to get rid of the addiction and to prevent relapse. If a person was prescribed clonazepam and became addicted, it is important to treat the original condition it was prescribed for (such as anxiety). If a person uses the drug recreationally, it is important to look at the reasons and motivations for drug abuse. Counseling, group therapy and other support therapies can be helpful in both cases.

People who are prescribed clonazepam and other benzodiazepines often have other disorders as well as anxiety. They may also suffer from depression or other illnesses, and they may be prescribed antidepressants or other medicines as well as benzodiazepines. If a patient has a history of any kind of substance abuse, including alcohol dependence, benzodiazepines should be prescribed with caution. It may be best to take this medicine under controlled circumstances, and there are always alternatives to clonazepam.

If you have a history of drug abuse or alcohol dependence, and your doctor is prescribing you benzodiazepines, always talk to your doctor honestly about your medical history. When you stop using clonazepam, the dosage should be reduced slowly to prevent the worst withdrawal symptoms. If a person with clonazepam addiction needs drugs to relieve anxiety or panic attacks, it is important to choose other less addictive medication.