Clonazepam, otherwise known as Klonopin, is a commonly-prescribed benzodiazepine for specific ailments like epilepsy, panic disorder, and restless legs syndrome (RLS). However, the only time you’ll receive a prescription for clonazepam for long-term use is if you have epilepsy, as it’s rarely used to control seizures.
If you receive a prescription for Klonopin, don’t expect to get many refills. Typically, clonazepam is prescribed for short-term use only, with exceptions for people with epilepsy.
Why? Well, it’s a benzo, and benzos affect the central nervous system aiding in muscle relaxation, decreased anxiety, and sedation. Because it can create a feeling of euphoria, benzodiazepines can be dangerously addictive when used outside of a doctor’s guidance.
When You May Be Prescribed Clonazepam for a Mental Health Concern
Even though clonazepam is a benzo with a black box warning from the U.S. FDA, it’s considered safe and effective when used appropriately. It’s when you misuse it that it poses a danger.
When it comes to mental health prescriptions, clonazepam is typically prescribed to reduce the symptoms of panic disorder. Your doctor will likely start you at a lower dose and gradually increase it over two to four weeks until they find the appropriate dosage for you.
Because benzos work so quickly and effectively, your doctor may tell you to take one dose per day or split it up into two or three doses. It’s crucial that you follow your physician’s instructions since Clonazepam addiction is possible if you don’t.
Klonopin also isn’t for everyone. It’s essential to inform your doctor of any of the following:
- if you are pregnant, breastfeeding, or trying to get pregnant
- if you have liver, lung, or kidney problems
- if you have had an allergic reaction to any other medications in the past
- if you have sleep apnea
- if you currently have or have had substance or alcohol use disorder
- if you have a personality disorder
- if you have depression or thoughts of suicide
Clonazepam and Long-Term Use Poses High Risk of Addiction
Clonazepam addiction is one of the most dangerous side effects of long-term use, which is one of the reasons it’s not typically prescribed that way. It goes without saying when you start taking Klonopin as a prescription, you don’t set out to develop an addiction. Unfortunately, clonazepam addiction happens, and it happens more often than you may think.
With over 20 million clonazepam prescriptions written every year in the U.S., it’s no wonder almost 10,000 people died from overdoses involving benzos like clonazepam in 2019.
Of course, it is possible to overdose on Klonopin accidentally, but more often than not, overdose most often occurs after you’ve developed a clonazepam addiction.
Benzo addiction typically happens when you misuse the drug.
Misusing clonazepam may look like this:
- taking more than you were prescribed
- borrowing or stealing clonazepam from others
- using clonazepam to feel high as opposed to alleviate pain
- trying to get the same prescription from multiple doctors
- sleep pattern disruptions
- isolating yourself
- making risky and dangerous decisions that may cause you or others danger
- inability to control clonazepam use
Using Clonazepam Without a Prescription
If you develop a clonazepam addiction, you will likely try everything you can to get a hold of more. Unfortunately, drug dealers know this, and they exploit it. Buying and using clonazepam or any drug you purchase on the street or even from someone you deem “reputable” is extremely dangerous.
The only time you should ever use clonazepam is with your doctor’s prescription.
There are many reasons why this is true, but one fatal reason is, unfortunately, becoming more common: fentanyl. If you can’t get your hands on more clonazepam, you may seek other options claiming to provide the same euphoric effects. That’s when you may find illicitly manufactured fentanyl (IMF).
IMFs are incredibly dangerous and can be deadly. It’s manufactured by drug dealers and definitely not regulated. It only takes a minimal amount of fentanyl to be lethal. And because IMFs aren’t regulated, you don’t really know what you’re getting. In fact, fentanyl surpassed heroin as the deadliest drug in America in 2015.
Other Dangers of Clonazepam Long-Term Use
There are additional dangers of clonazepam long-term use besides addiction. Even if you use it for an extended period as a prescription medication, there can be adverse psychological and physical side effects.
If you abuse the drug, you may experience negative consequences before those who use it as a prescription. This is especially true if you use clonazepam in addition to other drugs or alcohol to increase your “high.”
Psychological Impacts of Clonazepam Long-Term Use
You likely do psychological damage when you use or abuse drugs like Klonopin for extended periods. As you continue to use clonazepam, your brain increases its tolerance to an unsafe dose.
Once this happens, you may find yourself battling your initial mental health concern for which you received the prescription more intensely. In fact, when you abuse substances like clonazepam, you may even develop other substance-induced psychotic disorders.
Additional psychological impacts of long-term use include:
- Increased risk of Alzheimer’s – According to CBS News, you increase your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease by as much as 51%.
- lowered inhibitions
- memory loss
- drug-treatment resistant anxiety
Physical Impacts of Clonazepam Long-Term Use
One of the most noticeable physical effects of clonazepam long-term use is the withdrawal symptoms once you decide to quit or have to stop. Detoxing from prescription drugs is highly uncomfortable and shouldn’t be done alone. You need the help and guidance of medical professionals like ours here at BOLD Health.
Withdrawal symptoms when detoxing from clonazepam include the following:
- mood swings
- nausea and vomiting
- joint and muscle pain
- trouble concentrating
- rapid heartbeat
Long-term use of clonazepam can have physical repercussions, including:
- decreased sex drive
- weakened immune system
- brain atrophy
- cerebral ventricular enlargement leading to neurological impairment
- increased risk of falls and hip fractures
As you can see, taking benzos like clonazepam in the long term is definitely not worth it. But if you are on the path to addiction or want to stop taking benzos, seeking addiction treatment in San Diego at BOLD Health should be your next move.
BOLD Health: Your Choice for Addiction Treatment in San Diego
If you or someone you know is struggling with clonazepam addiction or an addiction to any other substance, our team of mental health professionals can help you through your detox and withdrawal symptoms and help you overcome your struggles with addiction.
Our addiction treatment in San Diego addresses your issues compassionately and scientifically. And we don’t simply treat your symptoms. We treat you as an individual. We take the time to understand you as a person and what brought you to need our help.
We provide several types of addiction treatment in San Diego, including:
- individual therapy
- group therapy
- medication management
- outpatient detox
- intensive outpatient program in San Diego (IOP)
Your journey to recovery is unique to your situation, so your addiction treatment program will be unique too. It may include one or more of the above options. Depending on your level of addiction, we may suggest one of our most rigorous and effective treatments: our intensive outpatient program in San Diego.
Our IOP takes place over ten weeks and consists of structured therapy sessions for nine hours per week. In our intensive outpatient program in San Diego, you’ll get the individual and group attention you need to face your addiction battles during the day while still being able to go home to your family and responsibilities in the evening.