Clonazepam is a commonly prescribed medication. When used as prescribed, it can help treat symptoms of the following:
- Panic disorders
Clonazepam works by affecting the brain and central nervous system. This means that when it is misused, it can also damage these parts of the body. Clonazepam can relax mind and muscles, but it can also cause psychological and physical harm.
Clonazepam Use and Psychological Dependence
Clonazepam works by increasing the overall effects of GABA, a chemical in the brain that produces relaxation. Therefore the presence of the drug makes a user feel even more relaxed than is usually naturally possible. It also makes him or her want to continue to experience this relaxation or “high.”
Users may come to believe they need clonazepam to relax or feel good — and as psychological dependence develops, this actually becomes true. The brain and body change in response to the drug’s presence and no longer produce as many or any natural calming, feel-good chemicals. Luckily this isn’t “damage,” and the brain can heal and rebalance from this effect once clonazepam use stops.
Clonazepam Use and Changes in Cognition
When a drug changes how your brain chemistry works, it also changes how you think. Clonazepam creates cognitive difficulties. It slows brain function and makes it hard to do mental processes such as the following:
- Process information
- Communicate with others
- Form new thoughts
- Use your memory
The Oschner Journal explains that clonazepam and other benzodiazepines make it much harder to form intentional, long-term memories.1 These side effects occur because clonazepam is changing how your brain works and processes information. While many changes in cognition end after clonazepam use ends, damaged or lost memories cannot be regained.
Clonazepam Use and Changes in Behavior
As clonazepam changes your thoughts and feelings, it also changes your mood and behavior. You may experience mood swings or emotional extremes. When using clonazepam, you may say and do things you normally wouldn’t. This can be the result of mood and mental health changes. It can also be a sign and symptom of a developing clonazepam addiction. As dependence and addiction continue, you may find yourself even less in control of your actions. You may want to quit but despite your best intentions, you can’t stop using.
Reversing the Changes Caused by Clonazepam
The effects of clonazepam use can be serious, but a lot of them can be alleviated by ending clonazepam use. This isn’t an overnight process. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration explains, “Reducing [clonazepam use] causes increased excitation throughout the brain which causes the symptoms of withdrawal, including agitation, anxiety, and insomnia. The number of GABA receptors is slowly restored in response to benzodiazepine cessation or dose reduction. The rate of withdrawal of treatment needs to allow time for GABA receptors to regenerate if withdrawal symptoms are to be minimized.”1
The brain heals and rebalances, but it takes time. And during this time, it can be very hard to stay on track with recovery.
You may experience rebound symptoms, anxiety and depression that reinforce psychological dependence or the belief that you need the drug to feel good or even normal. This is why healing the brain after clonazepam use requires professional support.
Professional Clonazepam Treatment
The brain can heal after clonazepam use. Not all damage is reversible, but getting professional support during detox and integrated addiction treatment after that helps you reverse much of it. Call Black Bear Rehab at 706-914-2327 to learn more about reversing the effects of any substance use or addiction.
Learn how you can balance your mental health, physical health and recovery. We are here for you any time, so please reach out today.
1 Griffin, Charles, et al. “Benzodiazepine Pharmacology and Central Nervous System-Mediated Effects.” The Oschner Journal. 2013.
2 “Safe & Effective Use of Benzodiazepines in Clinical Practice.” Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. 31 May 2017.