Klonopin is a highly addictive benzodiazepine typically used to treat seizures but can be used to help those with anxiety and insomnia. Comparatively, most people do not see Klonopin to be a dangerous drug and it certainly does not make headlines. However, the risk of Klonopin abuse is very high and can slowly form into an addiction if left untreated. Many people misuse and abuse this drug hoping to experience a “Klonopin High”.
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin is the brand name for the drug clonazepam which is a benzodiazepine (benzos). Benzos can be described as a depressant due to how it interacts with gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is one of the neurotransmitters responsible for slowing nerve function by inhibiting the function of other transmitters. When nerve function is slowed down, there is an overall reduction in mental and physical motor skills which is what makes it dangerous to drive while taking depressants.
Given that Klonopin works to depress the central nervous system (CNS), it is no surprise that it is quite effective in calming individuals who experience anxiety and panic disorders or even those with PTSD. However, this calming effect is also what makes it highly addictive.
Individuals who suffer from anxiety disorders and high levels of stress may take Klonopin to help ease their symptoms. In fact, 13.5 million individuals were prescribed some form of benzodiazepine in 2013. The issue with symptom management versus treatment is that the former does not actually help cure the ailment. Rather, drugs such as Klonopin have an use to suppress symptoms which means the individual becomes reliant on the drug to function. This is not to say that the drug serves no purpose. In fact, benzos can be a helpful auxiliary but should never be the primary means of treatment.
Individuals who take the drug can become dependent on it to function. Unless they are getting professional therapy for their mental ailment, the dependence to the drug is likely to grow until it becomes a full blown addiction.
While individuals can become dependent to the effects of Klonopin, some become addicted to the high it provides. Klonopin is not known for providing intense highs similar to marijuana or opioids, rather its high is more attributed to a dulling sedative effect which can be desirable to some.
Klonopin also has a very fast tolerance rate. A tolerance is essentially the body’s way of becoming used to a substance. A Klonopin tolerance only takes a few weeks to develop which means an individual looking for relief or even just to get high will consistently have to take higher and higher doses in order to feel the same effects. While rare, this constant increase can lead to an overdose.
Overdoses occur when the depressive effects of a drug overwhelm the central nervous system. Depressants slow critical nerve function such as breathing so when taking too much at once, it is possible to result in the complete cessation of breathing. While not always fatal, many overdoses bring with them permanent brain damage. Some symptoms of benzo overdose includes:
- Difficulty breathing
- No breathing
- Extremity discoloration
The risk of overdose increases significantly when other substances are present. Many people fail to realize the danger in mixing substances, whether intentional or not. Mixing other CNS depressants is especially dangerous – particularly opioids or alcohol. Multiple CNS depressants slow breathing and other critical functions dangerously increasing the risk of overdose and death. In 2019, benzodiazepines were present in 16 percent of overdose deaths involving opioids.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System?
Drug metabolism varies from person to person. Factors such as genetics, age, gender, body composition and drug history will all play a role when determining how long traces of a drug will remain in the body. The elimination half-life of Klonopin is 30-40 hours which is relatively long in comparison to other drugs such as opioids. This works to its effectiveness as the drug can provide long-term relief, however it also means that traces of the drug will remain longer in the body. A substance’s elimination half-life is a measure of the duration it takes for the drug to reduce to half of its originally ingested dose. In other words, 10mg of Klonopin will take 30-40 hours to effectively break down to 5mg.
Given its long half-life, Klonopin will appear on urine tests around 5 to 14 days after last use. Some workplaces and rehab centers will test for benzo use via urine test. Further, a metabolite of Klonopin, 7-aminoclonazepam can appear on drug tests well after last use (such as hair tests which detect the metabolite up to 4 months after last use).
Benzo addiction is in many ways quite similar to other addictions in that it is necessary to address the root causes of the addiction. Managing symptoms is very different from actual treatment. In order to ensure lifetime recovery and sobriety, the true cause behind the addiction needs to be treated. The most effective way to accomplish this is by getting professional help. Attempting to reach sobriety on your own can introduce the risk of experiencing painful withdrawal symptoms.
A professional will be able to guide you through your journey to sobriety in a safe and effective manner. If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, please contact us today so that we can provide you with the treatment you deserve.