Klonopin (Clonazepam) Addiction: Signs and Symptoms

Klonopin, known generically as clonazepam, is a prescription medication that is classified as a Schedule IV drug due to its known potential for misuse.1 When used as prescribed and under the supervision of a provider, Klonopin can be helpful in treating several health conditions. However, if a person takes Klonopin outside of how it is prescribed (such as with other medications like opioids), it can become dangerous and potentially life-threatening.2

On this page, we will discuss how this medication is used, its effects, detox and withdrawal, and how to receive treatment for Klonopin addiction.

What Is Klonopin (Clonazepam)?

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a relatively potent and long-acting benzodiazepine that is prescribed to treat panic disorder and to manage certain seizure disorders.3 Other drugs in the benzodiazepine class include Ativan, Xanax, and Valium.3

Uses of Klonopin

Klonopin is approved for the treatment of panic disorder and different types of seizure disorders.3 Like other benzos, Klonopin works by increasing the activity of GABA—our primary inhibitory neurotransmitter—to calm abnormal excitation in the brain.3 Klonopin is a safe and effective medication when used as prescribed under medical supervision. However, Klonopin may also be misused for its euphoric effects.4

Effects of Klonopin

If an individual misuses Klonopin, it can result in a variety of adverse effects. The severity of the effects can depend on several factors, including the dose and duration of use.1

Short-Term Effects of Klonopin

Klonopin misuse can increase the risk of experiencing certain short-term side effects, some of which can be more serious than others.

Short-term side effects of Klonopin may include:6

  • Drowsiness and fatigue.
  • Feeling dizzy or lightheaded.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Difficulty concentrating.

Less common, but more serious short-term effects can include hallucinations, worsening of depression, and short-term memory loss.3

Long-Term Effects of Klonopin

Longer-term Klonopin use may increase the risk of additional adverse effects and problems, including:3,7

  • Significant physiological dependence and withdrawal.
  • Addiction.
  • Depression.
  • Sexual dysfunction.
  • Cognitive decline.
  • Impaired concentration.
  • Decreased motor coordination.
  • Increase risk of injury (e.g., from falls or motor vehicle accidents)

Can You Misuse or Be Addicted to Klonopin?

Benzodiazepines like Klonopin are sometimes used non-medically their reinforcing, euphoric effects. These properties increase Klonopin‘s potential for continued, eventually compulsive misuse and dependence, especially in the context of multi-substance use.5 Misuse of Klonopin commonly involves doses that  far exceed the recommended amount, which can increase the likelihood of more severe adverse effects, including addiction development.5,7

Signs of Klonopin Addiction

Treatment professionals may diagnose Klonopin addiction as what’s known as a sedative use disorder. Such a diagnosis is made based on the presence of several characteristic signs and symptoms. At least 2 of the 11 criteria need to be present within the prior 12 months for a diagnosis to be made. Some of the 11 criteria of this type of substance use disorder include:9

  • Klonopin is often taken in greater amounts and for longer periods of time than intended.
  • There are failed efforts to reduce or stop using Klonopin.
  • Inability to meet obligations at work, school, or home due to repeated Klonopin use.
  • Recurrent Klonopin use in situations where it may be physically dangerous such as driving while impaired.
  • Developing tolerance to the effects and needing higher doses to achieve the same effects.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when the dose is reduced or discontinued.

Overdosing on Klonopin

When misusing Klonopin and/or when combining it with other substances, there is a significant risk of an overdose. Combining Klonopin with other sedating and respiratory depressing substances such as alcohol or opioids increases the risk of overdose.2 Especially when used together, benzodiazepines, alcohol, and opioids can result in significant over-sedation, impaired cognition, and overdose deaths from profound respiratory depression or respiratory arrest in the body.2

Symptoms of a Klonopin overdose may include consequences such as:1,10

  • Extreme drowsiness.
  • Confusion.
  • Impaired coordination.
  • Difficulty walking and slurred speech.
  • Loss of consciousness.
  • Dangerously slowed breathing.

If you suspect someone is experiencing an overdose, call 911 immediately.

Klonopin Detox and Withdrawal

Someone who has become physically dependent on Klonopin may experience withdrawal symptoms when they attempt to reduce or completely stop the use of this drug.4 Some of these symptoms can include:4,9

  • An elevation of vital signs (increased heart rate, blood pressure, and temperature).
  • Anxiety.
  • Agitation.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Tremors.
  • Seizures.

Appropriate early treatment can help prevent the progression of severe withdrawal symptoms.4 Klonopin users who do progress to severe withdrawal may experience nausea and vomiting which can lead to pneumonia if aspiration occurs.4 Delirium may be present with hallucinations, and vital signs can rapidly change.4 Abrupt changes in heart rate and blood pressure may result in numerous complications including cardiac arrhythmias.5 Ultimately, death can result.4 Attempts to abruptly quit Klonopin are not recommended without medical supervision. Medical detox and professional withdrawal management can keep people as safe and comfortable as possible during early recovery from Klonopin addiction.12

Getting Treatment for Klonopin Addiction

A comprehensive treatment plan includes behavioral therapies as the cornerstone of recovery. Therapy can help those addicted to Klonopin or other substances change their beliefs and behaviors related to substance misuse, develop healthy coping skills, and continue with necessary treatments such as medication management.11

If you or a loved one is concerned about the use of Klonopin, or has a Klonopin addiction, know there is hope and support available. Addiction is a treatable disease with many treatment approaches. Call our number at today for information about the levels of addiction treatment we offer. Our admission navigators can answer your questions about the rehab admissions process, how to use your insurance to pay for treatment, and any additional inquiries regarding other payment options or questions you might have.

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