Causes of WithdrawalKlonopin (clonazepam) is prescribed to help treat panic disorders and certain seizure disorders, including Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (petit mal variant), akinetic, and myoclonic seizures.1 Klonopin works by enhancing the activity of a major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the central nervous system called GABA.1
After several weeks or more of regular use, a person may develop significant Klonopin dependence. Physiological dependence develops as a person’s system grows accustomed to the presence of the drug and begins to rely on it for everyday functioning. Once a person has developed dependence, they may suffer from uncomfortable or even dangerous withdrawal symptoms once they discontinue or reduce their use.
Symptoms of Withdrawal
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms may be similar to alcohol withdrawal and may include serious side effects. The most dangerous side effect of Klonopin withdrawal is grand mal seizure—which occurs in as many as 20% to 30% of people who withdraw from benzodiazepines such as Klonopin without treatment.2
Withdrawal from Klonopin includes the following symptoms: 2
- Increase in respiratory rate
- Increase in blood pressure
- Increase in heart rate
- Increase in body temperature
- Hand tremors
- Nausea and vomiting
More severe symptoms include:5
- Grand mal seizures.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal timelines are influenced by each specific drug’s half-life, or the speed with which the body eliminates or clears the substance. Klonopin is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. 3 The withdrawal symptoms may not develop for more than a week, peak in intensity during the second week, and decrease in intensity during the following weeks. 2
Some long-term users may have symptoms that remain for months or even years after acute withdrawal. These are known as protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal symptoms (PAWS). They are believed to be due to certain neurochemical changes that take place in the central nervous system from chronic substance abuse.4
Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal may include:2
- Feeling depressed.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Problems focusing or remembering things.
- Lack of energy.
To manage PAWS, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration recommends staying physically and mentally active, joining support groups, and practicing good sleep habits.2
Withdrawal Symptom Severity
Withdrawal is different for every person. Your experience will be based on individual factors, such as:
- The typical amount of Klonopin used.
- Duration of use/abuse.
- Any use of other drugs.
- Mental health conditions, such as anxiety or depression.
- Overall health.
- Any previous experiences with complicated withdrawal.
Treatment for Withdrawal
Klonopin withdrawal should take place under medical care, either by a physician or other medical professional or in a supervised rehab program or detox center. Withdrawing without treatment entails several risks, including seizure, relapse, and possible exacerbation or emergence of physical and mental health issues.
Before detox, you will typically receive an assessment from a licensed health professional. They will ask about your medical history, mental health condition, severity of your Klonopin addiction, and other items.
Some medical professionals use substitute medications to taper. For example, Valium (diazepam) may be used to minimize Klonopin withdrawal and then tapered itself.5
If you are at risk for experiencing serious withdrawal symptoms such as delirium or seizures, you may be referred to a more hands-on treatment setting such as a hospital or inpatient treatment center.
Below are the most common detox settings:
- Hospital: If you are at high risk of complicated withdrawal or otherwise in need of relatively intensive medical services, you might need to detox in a hospital setting. This may be the best option for people with severe addictions or co-morbid disorders such as depression or schizophrenia.
- Inpatient treatment center: Inpatient treatment centers provide 24-hour support while you detox. While you detox, you may receive individual therapy and engage in a number of other rehabilitation activities such as group therapy and 12-step meetings.
- Outpatient treatment: You visit the detox center throughout the week but return home after treatment. They will monitor your care during sessions that take place at the facility. This setting may be best for people who have good social support but still need help for withdrawal and addiction treatment.
- Doctor’s office: Like outpatient treatment, you visit the doctor’s office periodically to check-in, monitor your progress, and make any necessary adjustments to your tapering schedule.
After you successfully discontinue Klonopin, you will transition into the next phase of substance abuse treatment, which can include entering a formal program in either an inpatient or outpatient setting. In many cases, you can transition into an ongoing treatment program run by the same facility that managed your detox. Continuing with your treatment beyond detox can help minimize relapse risks down the road.
How to Care for Someone Going Through Withdrawal
If your loved one is going through Klonopin withdrawal, you can support them throughout the process. Below are some tips:
- Give them space: Similar to how a person may feel when they are sick with the flu, your loved one may not feel like doing much during withdrawal. Honor their desire for space.
- Make sure they take their medication: Your loved one might be prescribed medication for uncomfortable side effects of withdrawal. If they have trouble remembering to take their medication, you can help them create a calendar or put a reminder in their phone or computer.
- Remind them to avoid making big changes in their life: Try and help your loved one minimize external stressors as much as possible during withdrawal. Their bodies are going through a major change and added stress could exacerbate their symptoms.
- Be aware of sleep issues: Withdrawal may cause sleeping problems for your loved one. You can offer support by helping them find ways to fall asleep, such as minimizing screen time before bed. If they regularly have problems falling asleep, you can ask them to talk to their doctor for more information.
- Encourage relaxation techniques: Your loved one may find it helpful to practice meditation, deep breathing, yoga, or other relaxation techniques during withdrawal. Seeing a clinical psychologist, therapist, or counselor can also help them deal with anxiety or worry.
- Make sure they drink enough fluids: Encourage them to drink enough water and eat healthy foods during withdrawal. When their bodies are fighting to adjust back to baseline it is important that they are eating nutrient-rich foods and drinking enough water.
- Motivate them to move forward: Some days your loved one may feel discouraged, hopeless, or lost. They may want to increase their taper dose or go back to using drugs. Focus on what they’ve achieved so far to motivate them to move forward.
Trying to detox alone and without medical supervision can be dangerous. If you or a loved one is ready to start the withdrawal process, begin researching treatment settings and facilities today. You can contact us anytime for help finding a facility.
. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Klonopin Tablets.
. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (5th ed.).
. Vancouver Acute Pharmaceutical Sciences. (n.d.). Comparison of Benzodiazepines.
. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2010). Protracted Withdrawal.
. Newcastle University Institute of Neuroscience. (2013). Chapter II: Slow Withdrawal Schedules.