Klonopin is a trade name for Clonazepam, a benzodiazepene indicated for the treatment of seizures, anxiety and panic attacks. Like all members of the benzodiazepene family, Klonopin has the potential to become extremely addictive. Studies have shown that physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms develop in approximately 33% of users (when used therapeutically as prescribed) when the dose is reduced or stopped after four weeks of use.
Given the likelihood of the development of physical and psychological dependence, Klonopin addiction treatment can become an essential part of ending a course of the drug.
The risk of Klonopin addiction increases with extended use and a higher dose, and with a high enough dose over a long enough period physical and psychological dependence is all but guaranteed. Virtually 100% of users will experience some degree of drug tolerance while using Klonopin, and will find themselves needing to increase their dosage to achieve the desired effects.
While users who are prescribed Klonopin therapeutically will be protected by a limited prescription and the guidance of their doctor, people who take the drug recreationally are more likely to develop issues with dependence; partly because they will lack dosage guidance and oversight, but also because of the temptation to increase dosage as the body develops a tolerance to the drug.
Recreational users will also be at increased risk of overdose and unwanted side effects, given their lack of guidance about interactions with other substances.
Due to the high risks of tolerance and addiction Klonopin is rarely prescribed for more than two to four weeks. However, even this short time can be enough for an user to develop dependence on the drug. Users and their loved ones should be vigilant for signs of addiction including mood swings and erratic behavior, visiting more than one doctor to ask for a prescription refill, complaining of vague symptoms in order to acquire medication, increasing dosage against or without the advice of a doctor, or a refusal to consider alternative treatments to treat their symptoms.
Withdrawal symptoms are one of the clearest signs of drug addiction and may in fact be the first indication that a problem exists, especially if the patient has not increased their dosage against medical advice.
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms include insomnia, nausea and vomiting, headaches, muscle or bone pain, diarrhea, restlessness, hallucinations, panic attacks, memory loss, heart palpitations and severe mood swings. While withdrawal symptoms vary with each user (and may be absent with some), the severity of the symptoms will likely correlate with the length of use and the dosage taken.
With increased use due to drug tolerance comes an increased risk of overdose. While therapeutic users should face little risk as long as they take only the prescribed dosage, recreational users are much more likely to overdose (especially if Klonopin is mixed with alcohol or other drugs and medications).
An overdose of Klonopin may cause symptoms including drowsiness, confusion, coma and, in rare cases, death. Klonopin overdose often causes a failure of decision making skills, leading users to engage in risky behavior such as unsafe sex or driving while under the influence.
The first step of Klonopin addiction treatment is to wean the user off the physical dependence on the drug. This may be achieved through immediate cessation of use or, more commonly, a gradual reduction in dosage coupled with the use of medications such as anti-anxiety drugs to help manage the symptoms of withdrawal.
Once the physical symptoms have been brought under control the patient is then led through a long period of therapy to deal with the psychological addiction and personal issues that may have contributed to the development of the dependence. Group therapy can be helpful in assuring the patient that they are not alone, and individual therapy sessions can help dig down to the root cause of the addiction, hopefully identifying the triggers and helping prevent the same mistakes in the future.
The therapy portion of Klonopin addiction treatment can continue for several months, and the patient may be asked to attend Narcotics Anonymous meetings on a continuing basis to help prevent a possible relapse or the development of a secondary addiction.