Clonazepam Addiction & Abuse
What is Clonazepam?
Barbiturates, the most frequently prescribed drug for anxiety and mental health problems in the fifties, have a very high potential for addiction. Benzodiazepines were formulated as a need for a drug with less severe consequences.
Leo Sternbach accidentally discovered chlordiazepoxide (Librium), the first benzodiazepine to market, in 1956. This drug was available for patient use by 1960, and was followed by the synthesis of Valium three years later. Clonazepam (Klonopin) was branded in 1964, and was used exclusively throughout the seventies and eighties as a treatment for epileptic seizures.
After opioids, Klonopin is one of the most abused drugs due to it's wide application of use for anything from panic attacks to weight control.
Forms of Clonazepam
Clonazepam comes in most commonly found in tablet form, much like a thin wafer that dissolves in the mouth. The drug is also available as an oral solution, but can be injectable as well. Clonazepam is popularly referred to as Klonopin and Rivotril, the branded names for this drug. This drug usually requires an hour or more before side effects of sedation is experienced.
Clonazepam belongs to the benzodiazepine family. Commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include:
- Alprazolam (Xanax)
- Diazepam (Valium)
- Flurazepam (Dalmane)
- Lorazepam (Ativan)
Clonazepam is often prescribed to patients who suffer from epileptic seizures and/or agoraphobia (panic disorder). Clonzepam is used to treat anxiety by affected the brain's GABA neurotransmitter (gamma-aminobutyric acid). GABA reduces excessive brain activity which is known to be a cause of symptoms of anxiety and other mental health disorders.
Clonazepam Drug Type
Clonazepam is a central nervous system depressant, downer or tranquilizer. By slowing neural activity, it enables users to easily achieve sleep and relaxation. Depressants which yield the same effects as Clonazepam include:
Street Names for Clonazepam
- Super Valium
DEA Drug Class
Clonazepam is a Schedule IV drug under the DEA's Controlled Substances List. An overview of Schedule IV substances:
- Current medical application in the U.S.;
- Low potential for abuse;
- Limited physical or psychological dependence
Uses for Clonazepam
Recreationally, Klonopin is used for its long-acting calming or tranquilizing effects. People battling stress and anxiety on a day to day basis turn to the drug to escape the pressure and achieve some semblance of peace. Clonazepam is prescribed for the treatment of any of the following seizure disorders:
- Atonic Seizures aka akinetic seizures or drop seizures or drop attacks
- Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS) or Childhood Epileptic Encephalopathy
- Petit Mal Seizures (Absence Epilepsy)
- Panic Disorder
- Detox Treatment
Side Effects of Clonazepam
Sedation is the most common side effect of clonazepam use; however, anti-epileptic drugs are responsible for the prevalence of suicidal thoughts and behavior. Other effects of clonazepam use include:
- Changes in sexual desire
- Confusion / Disorientation
- Dizziness / Unsteadiness
- Fatigue / Weakness
- Lack of inhibition
- Sleep disturbance
- Blood disorders
- Increased heart rate
- Liver enlargement
- Low blood pressure
- Respiratory depression
Clonazepam, Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Congenital malformations are likely to develop in the fetus of pregnant mothers who use clonazepam in their first trimester. Klonopin should be avoided by pregnant women for the duration of their pregnancy as a general rule of safety. Nursing moms would be wise to avoid the use of clonazepam while breastfeeding since this drug can contaminate breastmilk.
Clonazepam Abuse & Addiction
Using Klonopin outside the prescribed dosage may be a warning sign of abuse. Attempting to obtain the drug illicitly is another warning sign, and this behavior should be addressed immediately.
Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms
- Memory loss
- Nausea & vomiting
- Panic attacks
- Rapid heartbeat
- Difficulty concentrating
- Disinterest in hobbies
- Financial irresponsibility
- Weak performance (at school or at work)
Overdosing on Klonopin is likely, especially if using the drug in tandem with alcohol. Symptoms of a clonazepam overdose include:
- Slow reflexes
- Muscle weakness
Clonazepam Abuse Treatment
People with developing Klonopin addictions can join many available treatment programs to seek rehabilitation. Detoxification, if endured, should be supervised by a professional before outpatient services are deemed necessary. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectic Behavioral Therapy are also very helpful treatment programs.
Medication-assisted therapy can help certain patients cope with clonazepam withdrawal symptoms. Regular clinical drug testing is a useful tool to monitor patient compliance and effectiveness of treatment.
Testing for Clonazepam
Many addiction clinics test for clonazepam using saliva drug tests. Clonazepam’s primary metabolite 7-aminoclonazepam (ACL) has been found to be superior to CLON for detection of clonazepam in oral fluids.
Screening Cut-off and Detection Time for Clonazepam
In drug testing, the cut-off level marks the point at which a drug metabolite is detected without a doubt that it might be a false positive. A negative result, of course, does not mean that the sample is drug-free, only that the concentration level may be too low that it falls below the established cut-off.
Specimen Concentration Cut-off Level Detection Time Saliva 100 ng/ml 3-days