Since the 1970s, benzodiazepines have been among the most frequently prescribed medications in the country. Popular benzodiazepines include Klonopin (clonazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Ativan (lorazepam), and Valium (diazepam). These drugs vary in the duration and intensity of their effects, but all of them are classified as sedative-hypnotics.
When Klonopin and other benzodiazepines were first introduced, they were prescribed for just about any patient who felt stressed, anxious or had trouble sleeping. Since that time, medical research has shown that these drugs can not only cause dependence and addiction, but may also cause harmful changes to the brain. Psychology Today notes that long-term users have reported problems with memory loss, depression, anxiety and poor motor coordination — even after they stopped taking a benzodiazepine.
What Is Klonopin Prescribed For?
The purpose of Klonopin is to calm abnormally active electrical signals in the brain. When the brain is overactive, you may experience anxiety symptoms, muscle spasms, insomnia, seizures or other disorders of the nervous system. The primary use for Klonopin is to prevent seizures in people with neurological disorders like epilepsy. Klonopin is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine that can reduce the risk of seizure activity for hours after you take the drug.
Mental health professionals may prescribe Klonopin to prevent panic attacks, or episodes of extreme, debilitating anxiety. Klonopin is also prescribed to psychiatric patients who experience restlessness, fidgeting or uncontrollable movement as a result of taking anti-psychotic medications.
Klonopin is less likely to be prescribed for the short-term treatment of insomnia or acute anxiety than short-acting benzodiazepines like Ativan or Xanax. Ativan and Xanax act within minutes, and their effects do not last as long as Klonopin. For this reason, they are often prescribed to people who need fast relief of agitation or sleeplessness on an occasional basis.
Who Should Not Use Klonopin?
People with a history of drug or alcohol addiction should not be prescribed Klonopin. Clonazepam has the potential to become addictive, and patients with a predisposition to substance abuse are more likely to become dependent on this medication. There are a number of less addictive drugs that can be prescribed to control anxiety, including antidepressants classified as SSRIs (selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitors), like Celexa or Paxil. Anti-convulsant medications like Neurontin (gabapentin) can be prescribed to prevent seizures or control the pain of chronic muscle spasms.
In a small percentage of users, clonazepam may cause suicidal thoughts and behaviors. According to the National Institutes of Health, about one out of 500 people who used Klonopin to control seizures or anxiety displayed suicidal ideation. If you have a history of depression, suicidal thoughts or self-destructive behavior, Klonopin could be unsafe for you.
Pregnant women, nursing mothers and women who are trying to become pregnant should not take Klonopin, as the drug may cause birth defects or harm infants. If you have lung disease or you suffer from shortness of breath, Klonopin could be dangerous for you. Because benzodiazepines depress the central nervous system, they can slow down your breathing and heart rate.
Should You Quit Using Klonopin?
Klonopin can be a safe drug when it’s taken as directed with a doctor’s prescription. But if it’s misused, this medication can cause severe physical and psychological side effects. If you have a problem with clonazepam abuse, or you’re experiencing unpleasant side effects, talk to a health care provider immediately. Quitting Klonopin abruptly or drastically cutting the dose can cause withdrawal symptoms, including agitation, headaches, convulsions and seizures.
The only safe way to recover from Klonopin addiction is to go through detox and rehab at a professional treatment center. At Black Bear Lodge, we provide intensive, personalized treatment programs for clients struggling with prescription drug addiction. Our secluded location in the mountains of Georgia offers a secure haven from the chaos and stress of modern life. Call us to find out how our rehab programs can help you lead the fulfilling, drug-free life you want.