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This country has been facing incredible challenges of drug addiction lately, and this challenge is destroying countless lives every day. Not only the lives of the individuals that become addicted to and dependent on these substances, but the family members, friends, and loved ones who are with them during their substance use challenges. While you may think that all substance use is from illicit, hard, street drugs like cocaine, crystal meth, or heroin, you may be surprised to learn that an enormous share of addiction comes from substances that are often legally prescribed.

When a doctor or other healthcare professional prescribes a drug, it can quickly become prescription misuse if the person being prescribed the medication begins taking it differently from the prescription directions. Taking more than directed, taking them more often than directed, or taking them in a way other than directed can often be the first step toward prescription misuse and eventual dependence and addiction. A drug rapidly gaining a reputation for misuse and dependence is called Klonopin.

What Is Klonopin?

Klonopin is one of the most well-known brand names for the prescription benzodiazepine clonazepam, which is incredibly powerful and long-lasting. Healthcare professionals like doctors most frequently prescribe Klonopin to help treat or minimize the effects and feelings of anxiety or panic disorders. 

One of the common applications is using Klonopin on a prescription basis to help mitigate the withdrawal effects from other forms of addiction or substance use disorder, often revolving around alcohol or other drugs. It was first developed as an anti-epileptic and seizure management drug. While it is relatively effective in that capacity, it has also become a very frequently misused or abused drug. This is often attributed to Klonopin having an incredibly high potential for abuse.

Another extremely common legitimate application for Klonopin is for treating insomnia, which functions so well due to the calm relaxation the drug creates in the short time after it’s taken. These powerful and fast-acting effects contribute to the reluctance of doctors to prescribe Klonopin for long-term, continued, or ongoing use and are the foundation for the high addictive potential of the substance.

Klonopin is found in pill or tablet form, and while the pills are to be taken by mouth, the tablets are set on the tongue, where it dissolves quickly, helping the substance to enter the bloodstream quicker. Those who find themselves dependent or addicted to Klonopin will often crush the pills and insufflate or snort them, which helps them pass through the blood-brain barrier faster than oral administration.

Klonopin is long-lasting because it has a long half-life in the body. The half-life of a substance is how long it takes the body to metabolize or break down approximately half of the drug that is currently in the system. The half-life of Klonopin is long enough that once it has built up to functional levels in the user’s system, it can remain present and active for anywhere between 18 and 50 hours after the final dose, which is one reason that users really become dependent and eventually experience Klonopin withdrawal symptoms when they try to eliminate using entirely.

What Are The Withdrawal Symptoms & Timeline of Klonopin Use?

The withdrawal symptoms and timeline of Klonopin use will often depend on the severity of the abuse and how long the abuse has been going on. Klonopin is powerful enough that even with strict prescription use, it can cause dependence during the first month of use. This can be exacerbated by benzodiazepine withdrawal, which can be particularly difficult and dangerous. In addition, Klonopin is one of the longer-lasting benzodiazepines, which only adds to the difficulty.

The Klonopin withdrawal symptoms and timeline can generally be divided into 3 distinct stages. These stages are:

  • Stage 1 AKA The Rebound – This stage generally begins 18-40 hours after the last dose. If Klonopin was prescribed to manage symptoms like anxiety, panic, or insomnia, the user will see these symptoms surge or “rebound” during this stage. One of the most dangerous potential symptoms of this stage is the ever-present danger of seizure due to reduced or eliminated benzodiazepines in the bloodstream. Therefore, detoxing from Klonopin can be incredibly dangerous and should be supervised by qualified medical personnel.
  • Stage 2 AKA Acute Withdrawal – This stage typically starts around 3-5 days after stopping Klonopin use and can last as short as two weeks or as long as 3-4 months, depending on the abuse record of the user. This stage will often feature the most severe symptoms, ranging from uncomfortable to painful in some cases. Symptoms in this stage can include drowsiness, continued feelings of panic or anxiousness, headaches, insomnia, emotional instability, and even hallucinations. This is the stage that most frequently contributes to relapse. However, this stage is also usually considered the “hump” that, once finished, indicates that the worst of the physical withdrawals are over.
  • Stage 3 AKA Post-Acute Withdrawal – The final stage of Klonopin withdrawals is one that not all Klonopin abusers will experience, particularly when the abuse is very short-lived or relatively minor. The general nature of the stage 3 symptoms means they can last for years into recovery. Users who experience the post-acute withdrawal stage will generally experience lingering depression, anxiety, malaise, and recurring panic episodes that can occur for a long time after the initial detox stages have been completed.

The symptoms experienced during the withdrawal process can vary significantly from user to user. While the most common symptoms are listed above with the timeline, many more may be felt depending on the individual. Additional symptoms include:

  • Dizziness
  • Constant vertigo
  • Lower sex drive and negatively impacted libido
  • Numbness in the hands or feet
  • Fainting
  • Reduced or impaired cognitive abilities
  • Periodic but persistent confusion
  • Slower reaction time
  • Reduction in judgment and decision-making abilities

How The Timeline of Withdrawal Symptoms Can Differ Depending On Abuse Severity & How To Know if Addicted To Klonopin: Side-Effects of Abuse

Klonopin addiction can result in a drastic difference in withdrawal symptoms and the timeline of withdrawal due to how powerful it is and how it acts on the body and brain. Klonopin is part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, which are highly potent central nervous system depressants. 

This means that they slow or depress the communication between the brain and the rest of the body while they are active in the bloodstream. Since Klonopin stays in the system for so long, this essentially conditions the central nervous system to expect a depressed state. So eventually, it slows the production of certain neurotransmitters enough that when the Klonopin is taken away, the system cannot produce those chemicals in the needed amounts, resulting in the differences in Klonopin withdrawal symptoms and timeline.

Heavier users will have a larger amount of Klonopin built up in their system, which negatively impacts them in multiple ways. First, the higher baseline level of Klonopin in their system fosters a chemical dependence in their brain for that constant amount. Secondly, the long half-life of Klonopin means that not only is a higher level of the drug in the user’s system, but the half-life keeps it there for a longer period.

In many cases, Klonopin abuse will be combined with another form of substance use disorder. Since Klonopin is frequently prescribed to help minimize withdrawal symptoms from alcohol abuse, it is commonly abused in conjunction with alcohol, another incredibly powerful CNS depressant. Klonopin is also frequently mixed with various stimulants to achieve different effects. When those effects wear off, there may be enough Klonopin left in the system to create an overdose situation.

How To Mitigate Withdrawal Symptoms & Lessen The Timeline of Detox Symptoms From Klonopin With Professional Help

Even though Klonopin addiction and dependence is an incredibly serious situation that should be addressed as soon as possible, it is crucial to remember that quitting Klonopin suddenly can be deadly. Since Klonopin provides a vital level of a particular neurotransmitter that your system becomes accustomed to not having to produce, a sudden stoppage can mean a serious risk of seizure.

If you or someone you care about have developed an addiction to Klonopin, it is imperative that you reach out today to qualified addiction professionals for help. The most common way to complete the initial detox and withdrawal stages is to use an inpatient treatment plan where you can be in a clean and safe environment under qualified medical supervision. 

This ensures that any medical complications can be handled immediately and effectively while the user is weaned off Klonopin at a controlled rate. Following the withdrawal stage, the user can work with other counselors to ensure a strong and lasting recovery.

Sources:

  1. MedlinePlus. Clonazepam: MedlinePlus Drug Information. Published May 15, 2021. Accessed August 28, 2022. https://medlineplus.gov/druginfo/meds/a682279.html

Medical Content Writer

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

Amanda is a prolific medical content writer specializing in eating disorders and addiction treatment. She graduated Magnum Cum Laude from Purdue University with a B.S. in Social Work. As a person in recovery from disordered eating, she is passionate about seeing people heal and transform. She writes for popular treatment centers such as Ocean Recovery, Epiphany Wellness, The Heights Treatment, Infinite Recovery, New Waters Recovery and adolescent mental health treatment center BasePoint Academy. In her spare time she loves learning about health, nutrition, meditation, spiritual practices, and enjoys being the a mother of a beautiful daughter.

Last medically reviewed August 28, 2022