Klonopin Addiction Signs, Symptoms, And Help

doctor handing woman a prescription note
Klonopin is a trade name for the drug clonazepam. This drug is used to treat certain types of seizures and panic disorders. Clonazepam belongs to the class of medications called benzodiazepines. Through their interaction with the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA, drugs like clonazepam suppress abnormal electrical impulses in the brain. Clonazepam can be habit-forming if taken in a different way or for a more extended period of time than prescribed by a doctor.1

The abuse of prescription medications like Klonopin is a considerable problem in the United States. In 2016, 497,000 people age 12 and older abused prescription sedatives in the past month.12 From 2009 to 2011, sedatives were implicated in an estimated 30,707 emergency department visits due to adverse drug events.2 

People abuse Klonopin when they use it in a way other than how it was intended to be taken. They may use Klonopin to avoid reality, alleviate stress, or simply to experience a  pleasurable effect. Klonopin abuse also includes using someone else's prescription.3 

When a person becomes addicted to Klonopin, they may find it difficult to stop using the drug despite negative consequences. Changes in behavior occur in someone who is addicted, along with changes in the brain—especially in the part of the brain that controls inhibition and reward. What begins as occasional abuse of Klonopin can quickly escalate into an addiction.3 

Physical dependence may develop in people who regularly use Klonopin. Dependence occurs because of the body's natural adaptation to regular exposure to a substance. When that drug is taken away, withdrawal symptoms emerge. Dependence is just one criteria for diagnosing a Klonopin addiction, or a sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder.3 

Signs and Symptoms

Other signs and symptoms of a sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder include:4

  • Using Klonopin for longer and in more substantial amounts than prescribed
  • A strong desire to continue using Klonopin in spite of the consequences
  • Spending a great deal of time in activities necessary to obtain the drug
  • Many unsuccessful efforts or a persistent desire to cut down or quit using Klonopin
  • Neglecting school, work, or children because of Klonopin use
  • Giving up enjoyable hobbies, sports, or other activities to use Klonopin
  • Using Klonopin in dangerous situations, such as while driving or operating heavy machinery
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as insomnia, nausea, vomiting, and seizures, which occur once Klonopin use is decreased or stopped
  • Tolerance or needing to use more of the drug to get the same effect

Who Is at Risk for Addiction? 

Some people are more likely than others to develop a Klonopin addiction. The following are risk factors for addiction:4

  • Availability—Anyone who is prescribed Klonopin is at risk for addiction because they have easy access to the drug.
  • Impulsivity—People who are impulsive or novelty seeking are more likely to develop an addiction.
  • Alcohol addiction—People with an alcohol use disorder may be more likely to develop an addiction to Klonopin because they may receive a prescription for it to treat alcohol-related anxiety and insomnia.
  • Gender—Females are at a higher risk than males for Klonopin addiction.
  • Genetics—A person’s genes may play a role in Klonopin addiction. However, other factors may play a role as well, such as peer groups and family attitudes toward drug use.
  • Early use—Using Klonopin and other sedative drugs at a young age increases the risk of developing an addiction. 

When to Seek Help from Recovery Programs

The first steps are often the most difficult when it comes to getting help for an addiction. However, you shouldn't wait to get help. Addiction is a disease that can be effectively treated. Left untreated, it can be fatal. Don't wait until something bad happens.

You can visit your doctor for a referral to treatment. If your physician is not able to provide drug abuse screening, ask them to refer you to a substance abuse treatment specialist.  You can also ask for recommendations from friends or family members who have sought help for addiction. Additionally, resources are available online. You can read about other people’s experiences in treatment and find out what to expect in rehab and how to pay for it.

Although the thought of getting help can be intimidating, people recover from addiction every day with treatment. Rehab can help you manage your addiction and regain control of your life. 

Help for Addicted Friends and Family

If you believe that your family member or friend might be addicted to Klonopin, understand that you can't fix the problem by yourself. However, there are some things that you can do to help them. 

If your friend or family member is willing to talk about the issue, try to engage them in a conversation. If they want to get help, praise them for taking the first step toward recovery. Encourage them to seek an evaluation from a physician or other addiction treatment professional. Offer to help them locate substance abuse treatment programs. You can also call and talk to a substance abuse professional yourself. Sometimes, talking to someone not directly involved can help.7

Woman worried about daughter
If your loved one will not talk about the problem or refuses to get help, try to find out as much as you can about addiction and treatment. You can explore treatment centers that you think might appeal to your loved one. This information might help you convince them to get help. You can leave information for your loved one to read on how to get help.7

If they are still not willing to seek help, you can look into an intervention. These are staged meetings in which you and other family members and friends confront your loved one about their substance abuse and present them with an opportunity to get treatment. Interventions are more likely to be successful with the help of a professional.11 

Teen Abuse and Addiction 

Prescription drug abuse and addiction are not just problems for adults. A 2013 survey found that nearly 18% of high school students took a medication without a doctor’s prescription within the last year.Data from 2017 show that approximately 7.5% of 12th graders reported misusing prescription tranquilizers, such as benzodiazepines, at some point in their life.9

Aside from alcohol and marijuana, prescription drugs are the substances most commonly abused by teenagers. Many teens can easily obtain these drugs from friends or relatives. Some social media sites promote prescription misuse by providing information for teenagers on how to use prescription drugs to get high.8

Many teenagers wrongly believe that prescription drugs are safer than street drugs, such as heroin and cocaine. Although prescription medications are safe when taken as prescribed by a physician, they are unsafe when they are misused, abused, or purchased from illegal internet pharmacies. When misused, prescription drugs are just as dangerous as illicit drugs. 8

If your teen has a problem with prescription drug abuse, asking for help from your child's doctor or substance abuse professional is the first step to get them treatment.10

Many prescription drug treatment programs are available for adolescents and teenagers. The right treatment for your teen depends on a variety of variables, including how long they have been using, whether they are using other drugs, and whether they have been in treatment before. It is essential to have your teenager assessed by a substance abuse professional or physician to determine exactly what treatment will be best for him or her.10

If you or a loved one is suffering because of Klonopin abuse or addiction, treatment is the first step towards recovery. Don't wait until things get worse—get help today.

Sources

  1. Medline Plus. (2017). Clonazepam.
  2. Hampton, L.M. et al. (2014). Emergency department visits by adults for psychiatric medication adverse events. JAMA Psychiatry, 71(9), 1006-1014.
  3. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). The Science of Drug Abuse and Addiction: The Basics.
  4. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.). Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Publishing.
  5. The Partnership for a Drug Free America and Washington. (2017). Hope, Help & Healing. A Guide To helping someone who might have a drug or alcohol problem.
  6. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If You Have a Problem with Drugs: For Adults.
  7. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If Your Adult Friend or Loved One Has a Problem with Drugs.
  8. DEA. (2017). Prescription for Disaster: How Teens Abuse Medicine.
  9. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2017). Prescription Depressant Medications.
  10. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). What to Do If Your Teen or Young Adult Has a Problem with Drugs.
  11. National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence. (2015). Interventions: Tips and Guidelines.
  12. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2017). Key Substance Abuse and Mental Health Indicators in the United States: Results from the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.