Common Withdrawal Symptoms of Clonazepam Abuse
Clonazepam (also known as Klonopin) is a medication often used to treat insomnia, anxiety, seizure disorders, panic disorders and even alcohol withdrawal. It affects the central nervous system (CNS) and slows the body’s response to stressful stimuli (like heightened anxiety) creating a calm, relaxing effect. In short clonazepam is a tranquilizer. While this medication can be used effectively to treat the symptoms for which it was prescribed, taking clonazepam without a doctor’s prescription or differently than directed can lead to serious problems. In fact according to the 2010 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, over two million American abused prescriptions drugs for the first time within the previous year with clonazepam as one of the drugs abused.
You may not always be aware that you are developing a dependence on clonazepam. Over time your body will adapt to the presence of clonazepam, so over time more and more of the drug is needed for you to experience its effects. Without clonazepam users experience a variety of withdrawal symptoms. All of which will vary based on the amount of clonazepam you have been taking and the amount of time you have been taking it. Also withdrawal symptoms will vary from person to person, so you may or may not experience them. According to a 1994 article in the journal Addiction, withdrawal symptoms from clonazepam include the following:
- Panic attacks
- Hand tremors
- Difficulty concentration
- Dry heaving
- Weight loss
- Heart palpitations
- Muscular pain and stiffness
- Suicidal thoughts and actions
Also according to that article, the symptoms will begin to appear after the first day or so of discontinuing the drug, and symptoms usually last up to two weeks. However, some symptoms may persist long afterward depending on the severity of the addiction and the amount of clonazepam taken. Clonazepam is highly addictive, and the withdrawal is very painful, so do not try to come off of it alone.
Many people have a difficult time withdrawing from clonazepam. In fact ABC News reported that the U.S Food and Drug Administration recommends using benzodiazepines like clonazepam only for a short amount of time because stopping the usage of them cold-turkey can result in more than 40 withdrawal side effects. This report underscores the importance of seeking professional help when trying to overcome drug addiction.
Detox and Treatment for Clonazepam Addiction
Clonazepam addiction is a serious issue, but it can be overcome. Like other drugs clonazepam addiction requires immediate medical attention. Only a qualified professional can adequately determine the best way to help you come off of the clonazepam safely without serious side effects. This normally means gradually decreasing the dosage over time. This can be done safely in a drug treatment center where your progress can be monitored and where you can be made as comfortable as possible.
Because of the severity of the side effects, many times a substitute drug is given to ease the detox process. The October 2012 issue of the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment reported that a tapered dosage of phenobarbital can be used over three days to help a person detox from benzodiazepines (the classification under which clonazepam is listed). Whether or not medications are used, detox can take anywhere from a few days to a months. Each person’s body reacts differently to clonazepam, so detox is an individual process.
After detox you can choose among several treatment options. Most treatment facilities offer treatment programs that last from 30 days to a year in length. The time you spend in treatment will be determined in part by the depth of your addiction and in part by a circle of caring people who want to give you the best chance of recovery without relapse. You are free to choose the amount of time you stay in rehab. However, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), those who completed long-term treatment (60 days or more) had the highest success rate of recovery. Longer treatment also gives you more time to develop the skills necessary to succeed in long-term sobriety.
During rehab you will identify and try to break the habits that you developed as a clonazepam addict. You will also work through any underlying issues that may have triggered the addiction as well as those that might trigger a relapse once you recover. This phase of treatment will take place in group therapy and/or individual counseling. You will also learn and practice healthy ways of dealing with your emotions such a journaling, physical activity and conflict resolution. These skills are necessary to re-enter your life drug-free.
Getting Help for Your Clonazepam Abuse
If you or someone you love is struggling with an addiction to clonazepam, we can help. You can call our toll-free helpline any time, 24 hours a day. You can talk with one of our admissions counselors who can help you determine the best treatment options for your unique situation. Coming off of clonazepam is a difficult process and should never be attempted alone. The side effects and risks are just too great. Call us today, and we’ll help you start on the road to a safe, long-term recovery.