Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are some of the most frequently prescribed medications in the United States. Why are these sedative-hypnotic medications in such high demand? One reason is that they can promote sleep, relax tense muscles, and ease anxiety more safely than many other sedatives. Benzodiazepines like Klonopin are rarely fatal in overdose, but the potential for serious health complications ? including death ? does exist.

Who Is in Danger of Overdose?

Anyone who takes more than the recommended dose of Klonopin, or who takes the recommended dose more often than prescribed, is in danger of an overdose. But there are a few risk factors that increase the risk of overdosing:

  • Polydrug abuse. Recreational users who mix Klonopin with other drugs, especially central nervous system depressants like alcohol or narcotic painkillers, are at high risk of an overdose. According to Drug and Alcohol Dependence, benzodiazepines are often abused along with other drugs, especially opioids ? a practice that significantly raises the danger of central nervous system depression, coma and death.
  • Psychiatric illness. As an anxiolytic drug, Klonopin is prescribed to relieve psychiatric conditions like panic disorder. But abusing Klonopin can actually worsen anxiety and cause depression or suicidal tendencies. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cautions that Klonopin use may cause suicidal ideation in some patients, which could trigger an intentional overdose.
  • Addiction. Users who are addicted to Klonopin need higher doses of the drug to achieve the effects they crave. Addicts can easily go overboard when taking Klonopin, especially if they take it with alcohol or opioids to enhance its effects.
  • Lack of experience. Inexperienced recreational users are more likely to take too much of this medication. Middle school, high school and college students may take too much of the drug out of a lack of understanding of its dangerous side effects.

Although lethal overdoses of Klonopin are rare, benzodiazepine overdose in general has become increasingly common in the US. According to the DAWN Report, benzodiazepines were second only to opioid pain relievers in the number of emergency cases involving pharmaceutical drug abuse in 2009.

Annual US Hospital Visits

Almost 313,000 ER visits involved benzodiazepines that year, compared with approximately 343,000 visits involving narcotic analgesics like OxyContin.

What to Do in Case of an Overdose

How can you identify the signs of a Klonopin overdose? Clonazepam affects the transmission of electrical signals in the central nervous system, slowing down the electrical activity that can cause seizures, anxiety, muscle spasms or insomnia. Signs of an overdose include:

  • Extreme sleepiness
  • Sudden clumsiness
  • Dizziness
  • Severe confusion
  • Blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual weakness
  • Slow breathing
  • Loss of consciousness

Never Share Prescriptions

Sharing your prescription medication with others, or accepting prescription drugs from friends or family, is illegal as well as dangerous.

It may not be clear to you whether someone you’re with has overdosed on Klonopin, especially if you’re at a party where drugs and alcohol are being mixed freely. Contact emergency medical services immediately if you suspect an overdose, especially if the person is having trouble breathing, has become extremely weak, or has lost consciousness. Never leave an extremely intoxicated person to pass out alone ? seek help right away.

How to Avoid Overdosing

The best way to avoid overdosing on Klonopin is to take this medication only under a doctor’s care and only according to the directions on your prescription. Never combine Klonopin with alcohol, prescription narcotics or other sedatives. Review the precautions on the label of your medication, and notify your doctor of any adverse reactions immediately.

Millions of Americans have used Klonopin safely to treat seizure disorders, anxiety disorders, neuromuscular pain or insomnia. But taking too much of this medication can cause chemical dependence and addiction as well as a dangerous overdose. If you’re having trouble controlling your use of clonazepam, or you’re close to someone who has a problem, the compassionate addiction specialists at Black Bear Lodge can help.

Located in the foothills of northern Georgia, Black Bear Lodge is a luxury treatment facility that offers a safe refuge from the chaos that leads to substance abuse. Call our admissions coordinators at any time to learn more about our individualized treatment programs for benzodiazepine abuse.