Clonazepam is an anticonvulsant drug prescribed to control seizures and panic attacks. Part of the benzodiazepine family of drugs, clonazepam works by calming brain chemicals that have become over active. Like all drugs in this class, Clonazepam is highly habit forming. Using the drug for longer periods of time or in larger amounts than prescribed by a physician can lead to dependence and addiction.1 Doctors may prescribe this drug before surgery to help with anxiety or after surgery to aid in recovery. But the drug’s high addictive potential and the ordeal of surgery can enable dependency before patients or doctors are aware. Understanding the reasons why clonazepam is prescribed, how the drug works and the signs and symptoms of addiction can help prevent drug dependence.

Clonazepam Before and After Surgery

For some people, the anxiety of surgery can create debilitating fear. Even in emergency surgeries, patients may be agitated from the events which led to the emergency and feelings of panic can be overwhelming. In both of these situations, doctors may administer clonazepam to help calm a patient down and prepare him or her for surgery. Because clonazepam works by slowing down brain activity and strengthening the brain’s neurotransmitters, patients become relaxed as bodily tension fades and the mind returns to a calmer state. As the person relaxes, the anesthesia is more effective and sedation happens more quickly. Clonazepam is also used to keep a person calm during recovery, especially if staying still and quiet for several days is important for the healing process.2

Clonazepam Use After Discharge

Clonazepam dependence can form from a single use, but patients may have a prescription for this drug to take with them when they leave the hospital. This can be for any one of the following reasons:

  • Continued relief of anxiety after surgery
  • Reduction of nervous physical movement that can threaten surgical cuts before they heal
  • Relief of withdrawal symptoms from the initial dose of clonazepam

Patients may also use clonazepam after surgery for a short time even if they did not take this drug beforehand, as well as other drugs for sedation and pain control. Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms can be difficult to endure as the body recovers from surgery, but the drug is well suited for tapering use over time until the withdrawal symptoms are gone. If you or a loved ones is using clonazepam after surgery, some of the withdrawal symptoms to look for include the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms
  • Weakness
  • Headaches3

These symptoms can last for three or four days after the last use and can continue for up to two weeks depending on the dosage.

Dangers of Clonazepam Dependence

There is a high potential for clonazepam addiction, so doctors usually limit prescriptions to two to four weeks for safety. If someone becomes addicted to clonazepam and uses the drug without medical supervision, more problems can develop. She may become tolerant to the drug’s effects, which will prompt the need for higher and more frequent doses to achieve the same effects.

Some bodies adapt to the drug so that use causes the opposite of its intended effects.

These paradoxical effects, such as agitation, can be frightening and painful. Other depressants can interact with clonazepam in very dangerous ways. If users abuse alcohol or opiates while taking this drug, the result can be a dangerously slow breathing that can result in coma and death.

Finding Treatment for Clonazepam Dependence

Clonazepam dependence can be treated with the help of a doctor and/or addiction specialist. A plan of drug tapering will end this dependency, but patients may also need counseling if they have any dangerous patterns of drug abuse. Learn more about clonazepam dependence by calling our toll-free helpline at 706-914-2327. Our admissions coordinators are available 24 hours a day to help you explore treatment options and seek recovery.

By Patti Richards

1 “Clonazepam Oral : Uses, Side Effects, Interactions, Pictures, Warnings & Dosing.” WebMD. Dec. 2018.
2 Whitlock, Jennifer, et al. “These Are the Commonly Used Medications Before and After Surgery.” Verywell Health, 25 Nov. 2018.
3 “Benzodiazepine Abuse.” WebMD. 23 Apr. 2016.

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