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Klonopin Withdrawal

Anxiety is one of the most common mental health problems in the United States. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 19.1 percent of adults in the U.S. had an anxiety disorder in the past year. More than 31 percent experience an anxiety disorder at some point during their lifetime.

With such a common problem, doctors and researchers have been looking to pharmacological options to treat the disorder decades. Since the late 19th century, drugs like barbiturates and benzodiazepines have been used to treat anxiety and sleep disorders. Klonopin is one of these medications that’s used today.

Klonopin is a brand name for a drug called clonazepam, which is in the benzodiazepines class of drugs. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants that help to slow down your nervous system. Klonopin works with a chemical messenger in your brain called gamma-Aminobutyric acid (GABA), which functions in your nervous system to regulate excitability.

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When you feel awake, alert, anxious, or aroused, GABA can help calm you down when it’s time to rest and relax. People with sleep or anxiety disorders may have some biochemical or psychological problem that makes it difficult to calm down excitability in their nervous system. Klonopin can bind to GABA receptors in a way that increases GABA’s efficiency. This facilitates anxiolysis (anti-anxiety) and sedation.

In high doses, benzodiazepines like Klonopin can cause drowsiness, dizziness, and euphoria. Klonopin intoxication is similar to being drunk, and it can cause slurred speech, loss of motor function, and loss of memory. The medication can also lead to chemical dependency and addiction. If you become dependent, quitting cold turkey can cause uncomfortable and even dangerous withdrawal symptoms.

Learn more about Klonopin withdrawal and how it can be treated safely and effectively.

Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms

As a depressant, Klonopin can cause symptoms related to overexcitement in your nervous system. This comes as a result of the drug suppressing excitability while your brain adapts to counteract it. When the drug is suddenly taken away, you become overstimulated until your brain chemistry becomes balanced once again. Symptoms can include:

  • Muscle aches
  • Headaches
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Irritability
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Tremors
  • Shaky hands
  • Loss of appetite
  • Muscle spasms
  • Seizures
  • Delirium
  • Confusion
  • Sleep disturbances

Seizures and a condition called delirium tremens are the worst consequences of withdrawal that you might encounter. Both can lead to sudden and deadly complications without help. However, medical treatment significantly improves your likelihood to avoid these symptoms.

Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline

The Klonopin timeline you experience might be affected by your history with the drug. The length of time you used the drug, the size of your most recent dose, and the size of your regular dose can all affect when you experience your first symptoms and the severity of your symptoms.

Tapering off the drug can also change your timeline. It’s generally the safest option, as long as you taper with the help of a medical professional. Though your timeline might be unique, it will most likely follow this timeline:

woman-experiencing-detox-symptoms-sitting-on-bed
  • 3 days: Klonopin’s long half-life means it takes a long time for your body to remove it from the bloodstream. It may take a few days before you start to feel the effects of withdrawal. However, you will likely experience your first symptoms within three days of your last dose. If you were used to a high dose, or if you’ve been dependent on the medication for a long time, you might experience symptoms earlier. Early symptoms may include anxiety, insomnia, and irritability.
  • 1 week: Your symptoms will intensify over the next few days until they peak. Peak symptoms are the most severe. If you encounter dangerous symptoms, they are most likely to happen during this phase, though not necessarily. Peak symptoms may include tremors, seizures, and confusion in severe cases.
  • 3 weeks: After your symptoms reach their peak, they will start to go away. However, unlike most depressants, acute withdrawal symptoms can last longer than a week. You may feel symptoms for several weeks, though they won’t be as intense as your first week. Psychological symptoms like anxiety may be the last to subside.
  • 1 month or more: In some cases, insomnia, anxiety, and other psychological symptoms can linger indefinitely. It’s also common to experience drug cravings that come and go for a long time. It may be necessary to attend addiction treatment to learn how to deal with these symptoms without relapsing. 

Why Should I Detox?

Medical detox is the highest level of care in addiction treatment, but not everyone who seeks treatment needs to go through it. It involves 24-hour medically managed services for people who are likely to go through serious withdrawal symptoms.

However, central nervous system depressants can be potentially dangerous during withdrawal. Of all the major drug categories, depressants are the most likely to warrant detox. 

Detox can also be used to treat other medical conditions that might come alongside withdrawal. You’ll be treated with medications when necessary to alleviate symptoms or avoid complications. Detox typically lasts for a week, but because the acute symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal can last longer, detox may last longer, according to your needs.

What Is the Next Treatment Step?

After detox, you may go through additional levels of care, depending on your needs. If you have medical or psychological conditions that require high-level care, you may need inpatient or residential service that offers 24-hour monitoring.

If you can safely live on your own without the threat of relapse, you may go through an outpatient treatment program. No matter the level of care, treatment should be tailored to your needs. You will meet with a therapist weekly to create and assess your treatment plan and progress.

Why Seek Treatment?

If you or someone you know is struggling with a substance use disorder that’s related to benzodiazepine use, it’s important to seek medical help before quitting abruptly. Detox, with the help of medical professionals, is the safest way to get through withdrawal. However, you may also need more levels of care in addiction treatment.

Addiction is a chronic disease that can worsen when it’s not addressed. Addiction treatment can help you address some of the worst consequences of the disease like long-term health problems and financial instability. Learn more about addiction treatment to take your first steps toward recovery.

Sources

National Institute of Mental Health. (2017, November). Any Anxiety Disorder. from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/any-anxiety-disorder.shtml

National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016, February). 8: Medical detoxification. from https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/teaching-packets/understanding-drug-abuse-addiction/section-iii/7-medical-detoxification

RxList. (2017, December 20). Klonopin (Clonazepam): Side Effects, Interactions, Warning, Dosage & Uses. from https://www.rxlist.com/klonopin-drug.htm

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2004, September 16). gamma-Aminobutyric acid. from https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/gamma-Aminobutyric-acid

U.S. National Library of Medicine. (2019, November 6). Delirium tremens: MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm

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