Klonopin® is the trade name of Clonazepam, a benzodiazepine approved by the FDA to treat seizure disorders and anxiety disorders. Klonopin was patented in the 1960’s and became available in the US in 1975. Since then, it has become a commonly abused recreational drug for its relaxing effects.
How Does Clonazepam Work?
Clonazepam increases gamma amino-butyric acid in the brain, which is more commonly known as GABA. The neurotransmitter works by inhibiting the central nervous system, creating a sense of ease, comfort, and muscle relaxation. Because it acts on the GABA receptors, withdrawal and detox from clonazepam can be quite uncomfortable and physically dangerous.
Klonopin has a longer half-life than many other benzodiazepines. The half-life of a drug is how long it stays in your system, and clonazepam’s is over twice as long as the related drug alprazolam (Xanax®). This makes clonazepam more well-suited for longer term care of anxiety disorders, and alprazolam more effective in short-term interventions. However, the long half-life leads to a long withdrawal process as it can take weeks or months for the drug to leave the system completely.
Like other benzodiazepines, klonopin withdrawal can be serious or fatal if not treated properly. As such, it is not advisable to stop taking clonazepam “cold turkey.” Generally, your doctor will wean you off the drug slowly over time in order to minimize discomfort and danger. It’s important to come off benzodiazepines correctly in order to maintain your health and comfort.
Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
The severity of symptoms in withdrawing from clonazepam depends largely on the individual. Factors in severity of withdrawal symptoms include amount of use, length of use, the individual’s health, and the presence of any co-occurring disorders.
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms may include:
Nausea and/or vomiting
Hallucinations and/or nightmares
Irritability and mood swings
Anxiety and panic
High blood pressure
Impaired motor control
Depression, fatigue, and lack of motivation
Psychological Symptoms of Withdrawal
Like the withdrawal process from many substances, coming off klonopin can cause intense psychological symptoms. An individual coming off this benzodiazepine may experience waking hallucinations, intense nightmares, pervasive sadness, heightened anxiety and panic, severe drug cravings, and bouts of anger or rage.
Those detoxing from klonopin use are at a heightened risk of suicidal ideations. Along with the previously mentioned psychological symptoms that may arise, this makes klonopin withdrawal a dangerous process to go through alone. With proper medical attention and therapeutic care, these psychological symptoms can be eased in order to help the person detox with minimal discomfort.
Physical Symptoms of Withdrawal
As clonazepam impacts the GABA receptors in the brain, the withdrawal process is physically dangerous as well. When suddenly ceasing klonopin use, an individual may experience headaches, nausea, shaking, irregular sleep patterns, heightened blood pressure, dizziness, muscle tension and spasms, and irregular bowel movements.
In addition, more severe cases of klonopin withdrawal can result in the individual having seizures or falling into a coma. It’s important to know that the detox process can be incredibly dangerous and fatal. The physical symptoms of withdrawal make it imperative that you seek professional medical help when coming off klonopin.
Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline
Because klonopin is a long-acting benzodiazepine, the withdrawal process takes time and patience. Generally, withdrawal symptoms begin arising 2 or 3 days after the last use, which is when it begins to leave your system. During this time, an individual is likely to experience anxiety, insomnia, heightened blood pressure, fatigue, and mental confusion or memory lapses. During this period, the cravings for more clonazepam are often strong.
After a couple weeks, the acute withdrawal symptoms generally begin to subside. However, an individual may experience continued physical and psychological discomfort for weeks or months after. The longer-term withdrawal symptoms are often more mild, but may include anxiety, irregular sleeping patterns, and increased sensitivity to stress.
The timeline of withdrawal depends on the nature of the use and the individual’s biology. The longer you used klonopin, the more likely you are to experience a lengthy withdrawal process.
Klonopin Withdrawal Help
If you or somebody you know is coming off klonopin, it is crucial to seek help. Without help, klonopin withdrawal can be lethal. In addition to the physical dangers, the cravings from withdrawing can be overwhelming and lead the person to continue using.
Unfortunately, klonopin withdrawal needs to be monitored by professionals even if you’ve been taking it as prescribed. With a trained medical team, you can come off clonazepam and stay completely safe. At a quality treatment center or detox, you may be treated with medications, monitoring of vitals, and therapy. This level of care helps ensure your safety and comfort throughout this difficult process.