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Clonazepam is one of the three most prescribed benzodiazepines in the United States. It is an anticonvulsant, anxiolytic, and hypnotic drug. Clonazepam is a habit-forming drug and has an increased potential for abuse due to which it is available in prescription only.

Clonazepam is the generic name of Klonopin- a long-acting benzodiazepine. Clonazepam is a central nervous system depressant and it works by dampening the overstimulated brain as seen in the case of various seizures disorders (epilepsy) such as myoclonic, tonic-clonic, and partial seizures. It is indicated for treating most types of epilepsy in infants and children.

Clonazepam reduces the hyperactivity of the brain seen in epilepsy due to increased neuronal firing. Clonazepam acts by slowing down the neuronal activity of the brain and thus creating a relaxed, and calming effect on the brain. 

Clonazepam is further used to treat panic disorder and symptoms of anxiety following withdrawal from alcohol and other addictive substances. Clonazepam is also prescribed by doctors for short-term treatment of insomnia.

Clonazepam Overdose and Withdrawal Treatment

Therefore, Clonazepam works as an anticonvulsant or anti-epileptic, anxiolytic, and hypnotic. Clonazepam brings about these therapeutic effects by interacting and stimulating the release of inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA that controls and impairs the signal transmission thus depressing the hyper-excited state of the brain and causing a calming effect. 

Clonazepam is available as a blue tablet or as a quick-dissolve tablet that can be used up to 3 times a day. Since Clonazepam is a habit-forming drug with high addiction potential, it is not prescribed for long-term use. Moreover, Clonazepam being a long-acting benzodiazepine stays in the body for 18 to 50 hours.

Yes, Clonazepam is a controlled substance. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) has classified Benzodiazepines such as Clonazepam as a Schedule-IV controlled drug in the United States. This means that even though Clonazepam has legitimate therapeutic uses, it has the potential for addiction and abuse. Therefore, Clonazepam is available as a prescription-only drug and is not available as an over-the-counter medication. 

Schedule-IV drugs such as benzodiazepines have limited potential for abuse and addiction compared to other controlled substances but the risk of developing physical dependence and psychological addiction increases when these drugs are used for a long period or when they are used inappropriately for reasons other than the prescribed medical purpose.  

Clonazepam is prescribed for a short duration due to its potential for misuse and you should not increase the doses of the drug without consulting your doctor. Likewise, Clonazepam treatment should not be stopped abruptly since it results in the development of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.

However, despite strict monitoring on the sales of Clonazepam it is still among the top five most commonly abused benzodiazepines since it is available through illicit means and is used for recreational purposes. Clonazepam is known on the street by various slangs which include ‘Tranks’, ‘K-pins’, ‘Downers’, ‘Benzos’.

Clonazepam is a central nervous system depressant and it is known to depress the respiratory centers hence there is an increased risk of life-threatening breathing problems, oversedation, and coma when Clonazepam is used with certain other medications.

Clonazepam should not be used with other central nervous system depressants such as opioids. You should inform your doctor if you are using any form of an opioid such as hydrocodone for your pain management, or codeine syrup for your cough, or if you are using methadone, morphine for any legitimate medical use since the interaction of Clonazepam with opioid medication is quite serious and can result in life-threatening circumstances. 

Your doctor might change your medication or might change the dosage of your medicine but either way, close monitoring is required in such cases. If you feel like you or any of your loved ones are taking Clonazepam concomitantly with opioids then you need to observe signs of lightheadedness, sleepiness, drowsiness, slow or labored breathing, dizziness, or unresponsiveness since this indicates a medical emergency and prompt medical treatment is required. 

Clonazepam should never be taken in doses greater than prescribed or for a duration longer than the one indicated by your doctor as it leads to detrimental consequences and poses an increased risk to your health. You need to inform your doctor if you have been consuming alcohol or any illicit drug before or during treatment with Clonazepam since such a combination can lead to adverse life events that can prove to be fatal. 

This drug causes unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that are more pronounced when someone abruptly quits the drug. Hence, it is advised not to go cold turkey and taper your doses of Clonazepam gradually as advised by your doctor. In addition, if you are dealing with a mental health disorder or are frequently occupied with suicidal thoughts then you should inform your doctor about your condition so that any complication with Clonazepam administration can be avoided.

Clonazepam is primarily used as an anticonvulsant or anti-epileptic along with being an anxiolytic to treat panic disorder. However, due to its interaction with the GABA neurotransmitter that causes a calming effect on the brain, it also offers hypnotic activity and is used as a short-term treatment for insomnia. 

Clonazepam is effectively used to treat REM Sleep Behavior Disorder (RBD) in which individual acts strangely and do physical movements, making sounds as if enacting their dreams with violent arm and leg movements during the REM stage of sleep. Clonazepam relieves REM Sleep Behavior Disorder in 90% of patients with little evidence or proof of the development of abuse or addiction. 

Clonazepam used in 0.5mg is effective in treating REM Sleep Behavior Disorder that individuals take during bedtime, whereas some individuals may require doses of 1mg. According to research that was done to evaluate Clonazepam’s effectiveness as a sleeping pill compared with placebo, the results showed that Clonazepam produces a significant decrease in total wake time but after withdrawing the drug rebound insomnia occurred. 

Yes, Clonazepam is classified as a Schedule-IV controlled drug as it has significant potential for addiction and abuse despite its medicinal use. Physical dependence is usually the first sign, which manifests as a  withdrawal episode, that leads to addiction and this can happen when the drug is being taken in prescribed doses. 

Clonazepam is the third most prescribed benzodiazepine in the United States; third to Xanax and Lorazepam and frequent cases of abuse are linked with Clonazepam. According to a 2011 report, 20,000 million people had used benzodiazepine for reasons other than a legitimate medical purpose. 

In addition, statistics reveal that there have been 75,000 emergency room visits in 2011 owing to a complication caused by Klonopin (Clonazepam) abuse. Moreover, 15% of Americans possess a bottle of Benzodiazepine on their medical shelf which highlights the people at risk for developing abuse or addiction to the drug. 

The calming effect of Clonazepam accompanied with mild euphoria due to the stimulation of GABA neurotransmitters in the brain provokes an individual to continue using the drug long after the prescribed period is over or to take the drug in increased doses. Moreover, the peace and euphoria attributed to Clonazepam use have made it an attractive choice for many drug abusers who want to achieve a high. 

Initially, tolerance to Clonazepam develops which is a state when an individual needs to take increased doses of Clonazepam to achieve the desired effect. This leads to the development of physical dependence on Clonazepam in which an individual is dependent on the drug and cannot function normally in the absence of Clonazepam. 

Soon addiction follows and the individual feels restless and agitated without taking Clonazepam because the brain is dependent on the stimulation caused by Clonazepam and the brain on its own can no longer cause calmness or sedation. 

Prescription Drug Addiction

When addiction develops, discontinuing Clonazepam becomes quite difficult due to the manifestation of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms that makes the person revert to the drug. Therefore, Clonazepam should only be discontinued under medical supervision. 

Clonazepam abuse and addiction presents with a variety of physical, behavioral, and psychological symptoms that can help you spot if your loved one is abusing Clonazepam. This can help you to get your loved one prompt addiction treatment.

  • Preoccupied with the thoughts of arranging Clonazepam- People who are addicted to Clonazepam or any drug are always overwhelmed by the idea of arranging and using the drugs and they rarely have their minds off it to concentrate on something else. 
  • Strong and frequent cravings for Klonopin (Clonazepam)- An individual who is addicted to Clonazepam will frequently crave the drug after the effect of their last dose wears off such that they might talk about the drug or hint at needing Clonazepam jokingly.
  • Being unable to reduce the doses of Klonopin- These individuals often struggle with reducing the dose or discontinuing the drug since they find it quite difficult to perform their routine tasks in the absence of the drug.
  • Purchasing other benzodiazepines when Clonazepam is not available- To satisfy the urge to seek a high, individuals addicted to Clonazepam might switch to another drug for abuse such as another benzodiazepine temporarily.
  • Continued use of Clonazepam despite enduring the negative consequences- People who are addicted to the drug find it hard to leave the drug even after experiencing negative side effects of the drug.
  • Going for ‘doctor shopping’- This trend is quite common among people who abuse prescription medicine. They manipulate the doctor into prescribing Clonazepam to fulfill their need for the drug.
  • Buying Clonazepam through illicit means- Since the sales of Clonazepam are strictly regulated individuals get the drug through drug dealers on the street through illegal means. 
  • Financial issues are frequently encountered- Individuals who are abusing Clonazepam are not responsible for work and are usually dealing with financial issues.
  • They tend to isolate themselves- Individuals who are addicted to clonazepam or other drugs withdraw themselves from friends and family.
  • Poor hygiene- People who are abusing drugs are often unkempt since they lack personal grooming and do not take care of their hygiene.

Some signs which are indicative of Clonazepam abuse include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Impaired motor control
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Vertigo
  • Fainting
  • Numbness
  • Slowed reaction time
  • Weakness
  • Anorexia
  • Memory impairment
  • Brain damage

Clonazepam abuse also puts individuals at an increased risk of an overdose that can have life-threatening consequences. Clonazepam is frequently used in conjunction with alcohol to increase the euphoric effect. Since both the drugs are central nervous system depressants it leads to severe depression of the respiratory centers resulting in difficulty breathing, coma, and even death. 

The causes of Clonazepam Abuse are not very clear as of yet but certain factors contribute to Clonazepam abuse. One of the causes of Clonazepam abuse is the genetic makeup of an individual. Genetics is considered as one of the main causes of the abuse of substances such as prescription medicine since individuals with a family history of drug abuse are more likely to misuse a drug.

Environmental factors are another significant cause of Clonazepam abuse because if an individual lives in an environment where abuse is common and there is no restriction then there is a great likelihood that he or she may develop drug abuse such as Clonazepam abuse.

An individual who uses Clonazepam as a recreational drug to achieve a high that comes with its use is another cause of Clonazepam abuse. Moreover, individuals who become dependent on Clonazepam and start taking increased doses assuming that a prescription drug is devoid of an addiction potential also get involved in Clonazepam abuse. 

Clonazepam should be taken as advised by your doctor. If you are recommended by your doctor to take Clonazepam every day, you should do so and it is not dangerous since you are taking the medicine under your doctor’s supervision. 

However, taking the medicine in doses greater than what is prescribed and for a duration longer than recommended can lead to the development of potential side effects. Some individuals take doses more frequently, this is also contraindicated. 

Moreover, in case you missed a dose, you are advised to take your next dose but you should not take two doses together as it can lead to serious adverse outcomes.

Clonazepam hallucinations are visual, auditory, and tactile hallucinations along with paranoid delusions that are documented with the use of Clonazepam. These hallucinations are attributed to the increase in the serotonin levels induced by Clonazepam which results in hallucination and delusion or is associated with an organic brain disorder. 

It has been reported through a case study that dose reduction of Clonazepam resulted in the disappearance of hallucinations and delusions. Therefore, dose reduction can be taken as an alternative to discontinuing the drug. 

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