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Worried About Klonopin

Question:

I have been physically addicted to several benzos in the past & went through hell withdrawing from them. The last time (4th), the addiction Dr.’s said never to take benzos again because I would become addicted very early in the therapeutic course. My psychiatrist (new since withdrawals) thinks I should try Klonopin (severe, long-term sleep problems). He knows the above history but insists that Klonopin is different than other benzos in dependency. I can’t find much info about this.

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Answer:

Being a psychologist (and not a psychiatrist) I’m not in a position of being able to advise you on medicine issues. I can give you some information that might help your decisions here, however.

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p>Klonopin is a member of the benzo family (which includes Xanax, Valium, Ativan, Klonopin, etc.). Some of the benzos are short acting and some are long acting. Short acting means that their effect comes on quickly and doesn’t last long. Long acting means that the effect comes on slowly (some times imperceptibly) and then lasts a very long time. It is harder to get high on the long acting drugs than it is the short acting ones. I don’t know whether Klonopin is considered to be a short acting drug or a long acting one. All of the benzo family members are considered addictive substances (whether short or long acting). Although your psychiatrist is suggesting that Klonopin has a different profile than the medications you are addicted to, it may be that despite the differences, there is still too much risk for you (a recovering addict) to need the prescription. If you’ve been addicted in the past, you are still addicted! It won’t take much to get your addiction going again. I recommend that you think very carefully before going with the advice of your psychiatrist. Perhaps you should seek a second opinion from a (new) different psychiatrist who works with recovering addicts before you consent to the new prescription.

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p>The other thought in my mind is that benzos are not a “necessary” medication. By this I mean that they are effective in taking away anxiety symptoms, but they are not needed in order to keep you physically healthy. I believe there are a number of medicines (and also psychological/behavioral therapies) that can help with sleep. Not all of them are addictive substances. Why not explore the non-addictive procedures first?

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