Klonopin is a benzodiazepine medication, commonly prescribed for anxiety-based conditions as well as medical disorders that involve seizures and unusual muscle activity. Since the drug has been associated with issues of both abuse and addiction, practitioners are careful to provide only a tiny bit of the drug to people in need. For example, in a study in The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, experts suggest that two milligrams should be the maximum dose of potent benzodiazepines like Klonopin, when those drugs are provided for more than a week. If people stick to this dose and never stray from the plans their doctors have pulled together, they might take Klonopin for years without ever developing an abuse issue. But there are some people who do abuse this drug, and it might take time for them to heal.
Klonopin Addiction Timeframe
People who have prescriptions for Klonopin may be able to access the drug for very long periods of time. For example, in a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers found that 78 percent of people given the generic form of Klonopin (clonazepam) for an anxiety disorder were still taking the drug 1.5 years later. In most cases, these people don’t abuse the drug. They need it for a medical disorder, and they take their drugs as prescribed.
However, people who have prescriptions may live with relatives or friends who do develop an abuse or addiction syndrome. These people may find drugs in the communal medicine cabinet and choose to experiment, thinking that prescription pills will cause them no harm. Since the prescription is necessary for someone in the house, the pills are easy to get and abuse might quickly follow.
Each Klonopin dose has the ability to reduce electrical activity in the brain, but the medication also has the ability to boost the production of pleasurable chemicals inside the brain. A person abusing Klonopin might flood the brain with happiness on a regular basis, and in no time at all, the person might develop a psychological addiction to the drug. Around almost every corner, temptation to use awaits, and the person might feel helpless to resist the call. In some people, the migration from abuse to addiction takes just weeks, but others find that they grow addicted in a slow process that takes months to complete.
Going Through Withdrawal
While people who have a Klonopin addiction might have a psychological need for the drug they abuse, their bodies are also physically hooked on the drug. Their brain cells are accustomed to functioning at a slow and steady pace, and a sudden return to a normal level of stimulation might be jarring. In a study of the issue, in the Journal of Clinical Psychopharmacology, researchers found long-term clonazepam users developed withdrawal symptoms as their bodies adjusted to sobriety, including:
- Rapid heart rate
- Aching muscles
Some people develop these symptoms just hours after they choose to get sober, while others find that their symptoms are slow to develop and tend to build in intensity until a week or so has passed. Unfortunately, some people find that their withdrawal symptoms grow in intensity to such a degree that they develop seizures.
To keep terrible symptoms from taking hold, experts provide medications to people enduring Klonopin withdrawal. Often, this involves switching from Klonopin to a less powerful benzodiazepine medication, and then providing a tapering dose of that drug. Over a period of weeks, brain cells adjust and begin to function normally, even with no Klonopin present.
With sobriety achieved, people might feel capable of living life without access to Klonopin, but they might also be tempted to slide back into drug use when they’re under some sort of pressure. For some, this pressure comes about through the influence of mental illnesses, including anxiety disorders.
Even though many people with prescriptions for Klonopin due to anxiety don’t develop addictions, there are some people who dabble in Klonopin specifically because they struggle with anxiety. They may have never seen a doctor with their concerns, and they may be far from capable of obtaining a prescription for the drug, but they may feel their anxious feelings return when they try to get sober. The drug has functioned as a form of self-medication, and they don’t know how else to quell the misery they feel.
Therapy can be a useful tool, allowing people to understand that their anxious feelings begin with the mind. By using therapy, people may find it easy to change their thoughts, and when their thoughts change, their behaviors might also change. Individual therapies might help, but some people also find it useful to participate in group therapy sessions. Here, they have an opportunity to practice their skills while in the company of others, and they might find it easy to put those lessons into immediate use. In a study of this technique, covered in an article in The Primary Care Companion to the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry, researchers found that only 1.8 percent of people who got anxiety therapy showed signs of a panic disorder later, while 13.6 percent of people who didn’t get therapy had the same kinds of symptoms. Studies like this demonstrate just how valuable therapy might be in helping people to come to terms with their anxiety.
Even people who don’t have underlying mental health disorders might benefit from therapy, especially if it helps them to deal with common triggers for drug use, such as:
- Periods of intense anger
- Relationship difficulties
- Physical pain
Addiction therapies attempt to help clients to identify the triggers that lead them to the use and abuse of drugs, and in concert with the therapist, clients learn how to manage those difficulties without leaning on drugs.
Therapies like this sound simple, but they can take a significant amount of time to complete. In fact, it’s not uncommon for people with Klonopin addictions to spend months in therapy, learning, growing and fighting. They just can’t do it quickly, as so much needs to change.
In addition to participating in therapy, people with Klonopin addictions might also find it helpful to join a 12-Step support group. Most of these groups hold meetings on a regular basis, linking addicted people with peers who also have addictions. Participants also tend to form partnerships with senior members, allowing them access to help around the clock. Participating in meetings during the treatment process is common, but it’s also common for people to continue to attend meetings and 12-Step activities for years after treatment ends. Continued involvement like this keeps an addicted person in touch with the recovery community, and it could be the key that leads to a more robust battle against addiction to Klonopin.
If you’re struggling with a Klonopin issue, we’d like to help. At Black Bear Lodge, we provide comprehensive care for all sorts of addictions, and we’d love to design a program just for you. We can match you to a talented clinician who can work with you on an individual basis, and we can provide you with group therapies that can really help you to understand your motivation, your strengths and your hidden talents. With our customized help, you can get better. Please call us, and we’ll explain how treatment works and how you can get involved. We can also provide you with a tour of our facility, if you’d like to see where the healing takes place. Just call to get started.