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What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a brand name for Clonazepam and is often prescribed to treat anxiety, panic disorder, and seizure disorders in adults and children. When it was first introduced to the market in 1975, it was meant to help subdue epileptic seizures. Like other Benzodiazepines, or “Benzos,” Klonopin is a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that slows down the mind by affecting the receptors of the neurotransmitter GABA. This in turn slows down the respiratory and heart rate, which can potentially cause a deadly overdose. Klonopin will also suppress brain activity that can cause seizures.
Street names for Klonopin include K-pins, Tranqs, Downers, and Benzos.
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The Effects of Klonopin
Klonopin works by lowering the electrical activity in the brain. However, scientists don’t fully understand what reaction happens to cause this effect. That’s why Benzos like Klonopin trigger varying side effects from person to person. Despite its mystery, Klonopin’s ability to block abnormal brain activity has made it a popular anti-seizure medication since it was first introduced. Its effects also make it useful in the battle against anxiety and panic attacks, but people who use it often find that it quickly becomes hard to relax or calm down without it.
Because of its ability to block stressful activity in the brain and the pain that can come with it, Klonopin has become a powerful tool to help people recover from addiction. However, the drug itself is addictive. A high profile example is Stevie Nicks, one of the members of the Seventies rock band Fleetwood Mac. After recovering from her Cocaine addiction, a psychiatrist prescribed her a series of Benzos culminating in her use of Klonopin. She fell into another addiction that she describes as far more harmful than her Cocaine use. It turned her into a “zombie” for eight years. Nicks’ description is apt, as side effects of Klonopin include:
- Problems with coordination
- Difficulty thinking or remembering
- Increased saliva
- Muscle or joint pain
- Frequent urination
- Blurred vision
- Changes in sex drive or ability
While they’re less common, more serious side effects can manifest, such as:
- Swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- Difficulty swallowing
- Difficulty breathing
Addiction to Klonopin
Klonopin is a long-acting Benzo. Klonopin’s half-life (how long it takes for half of a single dose to leave the body) is between 30 to 40 hours. Because of this, dependency can build quickly as people are often dosing with it while it is still in their bodies, unknowingly increasing their doses. This especially goes for prescriptions that have people taking Klonopin up to three times a day. Depending on when someone takes their first dose, they can have six to eight doses of Klonopin in their system before the first one fades. That’s why people who take the drug as prescribed are still prone to develop an addiction.
Symptoms of Klonopin addiction include:
- Taking more Klonopin or taking Klonopin for longer than prescribed
- Unsuccessful efforts to reduce or cease Klonopin use
- Spending large amounts of time obtaining, using, or recovering from Klonopin
- Persistent desire to use or cravings for Klonopin
- Failing to meet obligations at work, school, or home
- Social or interpersonal problems
- Giving up previously enjoyed activities
- Using Klonopin in physically dangerous situations
- Physical or psychological problems
- Withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped or reduced
Eventually, the body becomes so used to the presence of Klonopin that it cannot function “normally” without it. When the user attempts to stop taking the drug, their body struggles to adapt, causing withdrawal. The withdrawal that comes from ceasing Klonopin use often triggers the return of whatever conditions the medication was treating, in addition to other symptoms like:
- Increased body temperature
- Mood changes
- Trouble with coordination
- Nausea and/or vomiting
- Increased pulse rate
- Hand tremors and/or uncontrollable shaking
- Panic attacks
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Trouble with Klonopin for the Elderly
As we age, we become more susceptible to the effects of both prescription and illicit drugs. This has become an issue for the elderly, many of whom are prescribed prescription medications for a number of reasons. Be it a necessary operation, an incident, or some psychological issue, people over the age of 65 are often prescribed multiple medications that should not be mixed. This can happen from the need of multiple doctors or providers who are not aware of their patient’s full medical history or what other medications they’re taking. In particular, Klonopin and other Benzos should not be mixed with Opioids, which are commonly prescribed as pain relievers.
There were 63 Benzodiazepine-related deaths among those aged 65 and older in 1999.
There were 431 Benzodiazepine-related deaths among those aged 65 and older in 2015.
Over two-thirds of the Benzodiazepine-related deaths among the elderly in 2015 also involved an Opioid.
If you or someone you know is over the age of 65, please make sure to keep track of what medications are being prescribed. It could be the difference between life and death.
Treatment for Klonopin Addiction
Dealing with an addiction this severe can be dangerous, and even deadly. Klonopin detox is an important first step to overcoming Klonopin addiction, but it is highly recommended that someone going through this not try to handle it on their own. If you or someone you love is suffering from an addiction to Klonopin, or any substance, then please reach out today. Dedicated treatment providers are waiting to talk to you.
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