Klonopin Abuse, Side Effects, & Treatment

Klonopin is a potentially addictive and frequently misused sedative drug. When Klonopin addiction develops, the compulsive patterns of misuse can be difficult to stop. Fortunately, treatment is available to help those who have a Klonopin-related substance use disorder to quit misusing the drug and avoid some of the health risks associated with it.

This page covers Klonopin use and misuse, its health effects, and how to help someone recover from Klonopin addiction.

What Is Klonopin?

Klonopin, and its generic counterpart clonazepam, belong to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines.1 Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants and may be used therapeutically to treat certain conditions by decreasing abnormal excitation in the brain.2 Klonopin and other benzodiazepines might also be described as sedative or anti-anxiety drugs because they can calm or relax a person.2

Usually dispensed in oral tablet form, Klonopin is a federally controlled, Schedule IV drug.1 Taking Klonopin over an extended period of time can lead to physical dependence.1 The risks associated with dependence and withdrawal increase with higher doses and extended treatment periods.1

What Is Klonopin Prescribed for?

Klonopin is frequently used as an anxiolytic, or a medication used to treat anxiety.3 Klonopin is approved for use in treating 2 types of disorders: 1

  • Panic disorder
  • Seizure disorders

For the treatment of panic disorder, Klonopin has been shown to be effective in 2 trials of 6 to 9 weeks.1 Longer-term use specific to panic disorder has not been properly evaluated.1

When treating a wide variety of seizures or an unknown type, Klonopin can be prescribed as a broad-spectrum medication.3 This can be helpful for treating several types of seizures in the interim before a more specific seizure disorder is diagnosed.3

Benzodiazepines like Klonopin are most commonly used for their calming or sedating effects.2 Other commonly prescribed benzodiazepines include: 2

How Does Klonopin Addiction Start?

Some sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorders, including Klonopin addiction, develop in adolescence and young adulthood, when there is an increased risk of misuse—sometimes in association with deliberate attempts to achieve a “high” with such medications.4

For others, Klonopin addiction might start when someone who had it prescribed for a legitimate medical condition then transitions into escalating their dose or otherwise misusing the drug.1

As benzodiazepine use continues, tolerance or a perceived need for more of the drug can begin to develop with prolonged use of the medication, leading some to increase the dosage without prescription guidance.4

Sedative, hypnotic, or anxiolytic use disorder is characterized by a persistent pattern of problematic drug use that causes significant impairment.4 Characteristic signs, symptoms, and behavioral changes may be exhibited or experienced by people struggling with such problematic patterns of use.

A professional diagnosis of a sedative use disorder may be made when several of these signs are present within a 12-month period. Taken together, these signs of Klonopin addiction can include:4

  • Taking the medication in larger quantities or over a longer period than intended.
  • A desire to decrease use or unsuccessful attempts to control use.
  • A good amount of time spent focused on obtaining or recovering from the drug.
  • A strong craving to use the drug.
  • Daily functioning such as obligations at work, social relationships, or school are impaired.
  • Continued use of the drug even though social or interpersonal problems are worsened by use.
  • Activities and events are missed or given up due to the drug.
  • Drug use in ways that are considered physically dangerous.
  • Continued use of the drug even when physical or psychological problems are caused or exacerbated by it.
  • A tolerance, or need for more of the drug to produce the same effect, is developed.
  • Withdrawal symptoms like insomnia, heightened anxiety, and increased heart rate are present in the absence of the drug.

Many drugs with addictive properties are associated with a surge in dopamine activity, a neurotransmitter thought to play a major role in the reinforcing of pleasurable activities.5 Through their impact on dopamine neurotransmission, benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, may contribute to addiction in a similar fashion as opioids and certain other misused substances.5 With an increase in dopamine activity, the rewarding effect can reinforce continued and potentially compulsive use of the drug.5

Health Effects & Risks of Klonopin Abuse

Klonopin misuse can result in serious health effects and behavior changes. Some of these adverse outcomes include:

  • Decreased autonomic nervous system functioning such as a drop in blood pressure, slower pulse, and decreased respiratory rate. 4
  • Physically dangerous situations like driving impaired or operating a machine under the influence.4
  • Increased risk of falls and cognitive problems when an older person is intoxicated.4
  • Increased risk of suicidal ideation and suicide.1
  • Interpersonal difficulties such as engaging in fights or arguing. 4
  • Interference in performance at work or school. 4

Misuse and addiction are sometimes seen in connection with Klonopin use and can be associated with an increased risk of overdose and death.1 Klonopin and other benzodiazepines interact significantly with alcohol as well as opioids and can increase the risk of unintentional overdose involving those substances.2,4 In 2019, approximately 16% of opioid overdose deaths also involved benzodiazepines.2

Misuse of Klonopin increases the risk of significant physical dependence and withdrawal.1 Klonopin withdrawal symptoms may include:4

  • Feelings of anxiety.
  • Increased heart rate and/or sweating inappropriately.
  • Shakes or tremors in the hands.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Purposeless, repetitive movements, like pacing or tapping.
  • Grand mal seizures.

Sudden discontinuation of Klonopin can be dangerous.1 Even when used as prescribed, plans to decrease, or stop taking Klonopin should be discussed with your medical provider.1 Your doctor will create a patient-specific plan to decrease your dose to best avoid unpleasant withdrawal symptoms or complications.1

Klonopin Addiction Treatment & Rehab Options

Coming to terms with problematic Klonopin use and seeking treatment at an addiction treatment facility can be intimidating, but help is available. There are several types of treatment offered. The most appropriate level of care will depend on the patterns of drug usage, factors such as a person’s physical and mental health, and other individual needs or preferences.6 Treatment for prescription medications looks similar to other substance use disorder treatments, such as those for alcohol and opioid use disorders.6

Klonopin addiction treatment can be provided in various settings and levels of care, including: 6

  • Inpatient or hospital settings.
  • Residential facilities.
  • Outpatient programs.
  • Individual and group therapy.

Oxford Treatment Center offers a full continuum of care from medical detox to outpatient. Caring staff understands that each person recovers at their own pace, which is why treatment programs are tailored to individual needs. The treatment center also offers aftercare such as adjacent sober living housing.

There are several ways to pay for addiction treatment. Most people find they can use insurance to pay for rehab, but the level of coverage may depend on your specific plan and choice of treatment. To quickly verify your benefits coverage at Oxford Treatment Center, simply complete this confidential . Other payment options include personal loans, credit cards, or financing.

Substance use disorder can feel isolating and discouraging, but you are not alone. If you or someone you love needs help, contact one of our admissions navigators at to get started on the admissions process and learn more about addiction treatment in MS at Oxford Treatment Center.

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