Legally Lethal: Klonopin Addiction and Abuse
Like the majority of other substances in the same class of drugs, Klonopin is highly prescribed all across the country. But also like other drugs in its class, this substance can be highly addictive, painful to detox from, and so dangerous it could end up costing you your life.
It's critical, then, that you educate yourself about the risks involved in Klonopin addiction and abuse. And beyond that, learning to spot the signs of physical dependency early can give you the edge you need to tackle this crippling addiction.Get Help Today
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A Closer Look at Klonopin
Klonopin is the brand name for a chemical compound called clonazepam. It belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines or benzos, one of the most widely abused prescription medications. Some of the most common brands of benzodiazepines include Xanax, Valium, Rohypnol, and Ativan.
Some common street names for these types of drugs include:
- Valley Girl
- Heavenly Blues
- Nerve Pills
Like other benzos, Klonopin interacts with the brain to produce feelings of relaxation, tranquility, and sedation. As such, physicians will typically prescribe them to treat conditions that result from too much activity in the brain – anxiety, panic disorders, insomnia, seizures, and even alcohol withdrawal.
Benzodiazepines help calm an overactive brain by intensifying the effects of GABA, the body's main inhibitory chemical. With a more powerful calming chemical, many people can find relief from conditions that can be both debilitating and dangerous.
Clonazepam specifically is primarily used to treat certain types of seizures as well as sudden and unexpected panic attacks.
I was sad and I was sick. I didn't really understand right up until the end that it was the Klonopin that was making me crazy. I really didn't realize it was that drug because I was taking it from a doctor and it was prescribed. It just hit me really hard that that was the foundation for why I was completely falling apart.
- Stevie Nicks on her Klonopin addiction
The Many Dangerous Klonopin Abuse Methods
Like many other addictive substance, abusing clonazepam can be done in a number of different ways beyond just taking it in higher doses than what's recommended.
Below, we take a look at some of these different methods.
Snorting – Sniffing Klonopin to get high is probably the most common method of abuse after taking the pills orally. It can result in a variety of nasal problems as well as a much more potent (and dangerous) effect overall.
Inhaling – Smoking Klonopin is another method of abuse. As with smoking other prescription medications, though, this process can be extremely painful.
Parachuting – Parachuting Klonopin is another way to ingest clonazepam that many people may not have heard of. It involves crushing the pills into a powder and swallowing it after you've wrapped the powder in a piece of toilet paper. Users claim it promotes quicker absorption of the drug.
Plugging – This method may be a little bit in the deeper end of addiction but plugging clonazepam is one of the more dangerous ways of getting high on this drug. It involves dissolving Klonopin into a solution and then injecting it directly into the anus, thereby passing the body's natural filtering systems.
Is Klonopin Addictive at Small Doses?
A common misconception among the public is that prescription medications are safer than illicit drugs. After all, these are pills that are used and recommended by actual doctors.
The ugly truth of the matter, however, is that prescription drugs kill far more people every single year than all other drug deaths combined in the United States. Shocking, right?
Part of the reason these drugs are so commonly abused is that people are lured into a false feeling of security since they were prescribed by a doctor. As a result, people may take more than they're prescribed or stay on it longer than they really should.
Even a prescription for low dose clonazepam on a long-term basis can result in physical dependency and eventual addiction.
Consequently, it's important that you recognize the fact that no dosage level will prevent dependency entirely. Take the steps to reduce your dosage over time to help decrease the risk of addiction and, most importantly, never use Klonopin outside the dosages provided by your doctor.
Like many other benzodiazepines, clonazepam can produce intense physical dependency quite quickly and with very few instances of abuse. Given that it's so easy to become addicted to this drug, then, it's absolutely critical that you know how to spot the signs of Klonopin dependence early on.
One of the quickest ways to do so is by taking an online drug addiction test. These short quizzes will give you an accurate picture of whether you don't have a problem or if you should seek further help.
An even more precise approach would be to self-evaluate your condition according to the guidelines used by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, also known as the DSM-V.
This test points out twelve different behavioral patterns and physical symptoms that are typically associated with a serious substance use disorder. If you've experienced more than two of these patterns in the last year, you should seek additional help as soon as possible.
And while these methods are certainly helpful in giving you a better idea of whether you are truly suffering from a clonazepam abuse problem, the only real way to determine it for sure is through a direct diagnosis from a qualified physician.
Short- & Long-Term Effects of Abusing Clonazepam
What are the Side Effects of Klonopin?
Despite the benefits that Klonopin can have when taken responsibly, there are a variety of short- and long-term effects of its continued use that can be quite detrimental, both physically and psychologically.
Short Term Effects
In the short-term, clonazepam can result a substantial number of side effects including:
- Loss of libido
- Voice changes
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
- Poor coordination
- Body aches or pain
- Lack of appetite
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sleeping problems
Long Term Effects
The long-term consequences of Klonopin abuse can be far more detrimental. For one thing, benzodiazepines have been connected to a wide range of cognitive impairments when they're abused for long periods of time. Besides a higher risk of physical dependence, these symptoms include:
- Impaired psychomotor functioning
- Diminished verbal learning
- Hampered memory, both long- and short-term
- Decreased visuospatial abilities
- Poor attention
- Impaired focus and concentration
- Mood changes
- Emotional numbness
- Sleep disorders
Beyond these effects though, there are also a variety of risks associated with the method of abuse.
Injection, for instance carries with it a risk of permanently damaging veins, reducing essential blood flow, and bringing on infection of skin abscesses. What's more, intravenous use also increases the likelihood of contracting HIV, hepatitis, and other blood borne pathogens.
If Klonopin is snorted or smoked, it can also end up causing serious and irreparable damage to the body's mucous membranes and the lungs.
When you take a long hard look at this extensive list of side effects of clonazepam, then, you may just want to rethink abusing this dangerous and addictive benzodiazepine.
Clonazepam Addiction Withdrawal
Withdrawals from an addiction to Klonopin can be incredibly painful. In fact, surveys have found that many people consider withdrawing from benzos like clonazepam to be the most difficult drug detox to endure, even when compared to heroin, meth, and alcohol.
And when you consider just how unbearable some of those withdrawals can be, that's certainly saying a lot.
Some of the common physical symptoms, according to one of the most well-regarded benzo resources The Ashton Manual, include:
- Dry mouth
- Over breathing
- Skin rashes
- Pain and muscle stiffness
- Tingling in the torso, limbs, and face
- Muscle twitches
- Blurred or double vision
- Nausea and vomiting
- Flushing and sweating
- Urinary difficulties
As many clonazepam addiction sufferers know, though, one of the most unbearable aspects of a Klonopin withdrawal is the psychological aspect.
Symptoms that fall under this category include:
- Agoraphobia and social phobia
- Perceptual distortions
- Intrusive memories
- Increased anxiety and panic attacks
- Rage, irritability, and aggression
- Poor memory and concentration
A few common descriptors that people use when talking about the process are "hellish," "waking nightmare," "utter horror," and "indescribable pain." What's more, the process is also particularly protracted, sometimes even lasting for years.
The single best way to reduce the severity of these symptoms, though, is to detox from clonazepam under the guidance of a qualified addiction specialist.
Not only will they have the experience and knowledge to make detoxing as comfortable as possible, they'll also help you avoid the potentially fatal consequences of Klonopin detoxification.
How Do You Stop Taking Clonazepam Safely?
Withdrawals from Klonopin can, undoubtedly, be absolutely excruciating, more so than any other drug at times. But another part of the clonazepam detoxification process that makes it so dangerous is that doing it haphazardly can, in fact, kill you.
Without proper guidance from an experienced addiction specialist, the withdrawals from Klonopin and other benzodiazepines can result in severe and fatal grand mal seizures.
The danger comes from removing clonazepam from the body too quickly. To explain, the body acclimates to the strengthened GABA (caused by Klonopin) by increasing the effectiveness of excitatory neurotransmitters – the opposite of GABA.
When clonazepam is removed and GABA returns to its normal potency, these excitatory neurotransmitters don't respond nearly as quickly. As a result, the brain is launched into a flurry of over activity since the GABA is no longer strong enough to counteract it.
This over activity can often result in surges of anxiety, fear, panic, stress, and even life-threatening grand mal seizures.
The key to quitting Klonopin safely, then, is by using a carefully planned and individualized tapering program. Such a program will help your body become acclimated to the lack of clonazepam in your system and adjust its processes accordingly.
Given that a slip up can mean the difference between life and death though, developing such a program with an actual addiction specialist is absolutely critical.
Overcoming Klonopin Addiction and Abuse
While clonazepam can be used to effectively treat a variety of disorders, its high risk for abuse can easily lead to the development of a physical dependency and an eventual addiction to Klonopin.
Spotting the signs of clonazepam abuse early on can help you kick your prescription pill dependency and avoid the hellish and life-threatening withdrawals down the road.