Clonazepam Withdrawal - Withdrawal
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Clonazepam Withdrawal

Clonazepam withdrawal may have life-threatening effects. It is best to forego any “natural” or alternative methods in favor of immediate professional help


Takeaways from this article:

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    Clonazepam what is it used for

  • american addiction centers photo

    What are the withdrawal symptoms from clonazepam

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    Clonazepam drug information

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    Clonazepam withdrawal treatment


Clonazepam (Klonopin) is a benzodiazepine drug prescribed to manage panic attacks and seizure disorders.1,2 When taken as directed, clonazepam is generally safe. However, regular use is associated with tolerance and physical dependence.

Over time, the body adapts to the presence of clonazepam and will require higher doses or more frequent doses to produce the desired effects.4 With frequent use and higher doses, the body begins to function normally only when clonazepam is present, which is known as physical dependence.3,4 At this point, when the person reduces their clonazepam use or stops completely, withdrawal symptoms will appear.3,4

During withdrawal from clonazepam, a person may experience symptoms ranging from mild to severe, which can last up to two weeks.1,5,10 The greatest immediate health risk associated with clonazepam withdrawal is the possibility of seizures.1,6 For these reasons, clonazepam withdrawal should always be managed by medical professionals to increase patient comfort and reduce potential danger.7

Withdrawal Symptoms

Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms usually begin within a day or two following the last dose. The symptoms will vary based on the individual, the dose of the medication, and how long the person has taken the medication. When symptoms begin, the individual may experience:1,5,6

  • Anxiety.
  • Muscle tension and pain.
  • Insomnia.
  • Tremors.
  • Low mood.
  • Poor memory and concentration.
  • Restlessness.
  • Seizures.

These symptoms may resolve quickly but can continue for up to 2 weeks after last use.10

Withdrawing From Clonazepam: Options for Help

Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms can be reduced by tapering. Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms can be reduced or prevented with a gradual reduction of the dose.5,6 This process is called tapering or weaning. Often, a person will first be switched from clonazepam to another long-acting benzodiazepine, such as diazepam, or a long-acting barbiturate, such as phenobarbital.5,6

In either case, the treatment providers will determine a dose of the long-acting medication that is equivalent to the amount of clonazepam the person used and establish stability at that dose.5,6 From there, the provider will gradually reduce the dose and frequency of the medication. This process can take days, weeks, or months depending on the person’s needs and the withdrawal symptoms the person experiences when the dose is lowered.5,6

For some, completing the withdrawal process at an inpatient clinic may be more comfortable than withdrawing at home, because physicians can help people manage symptoms as they emerge. Detoxing in a clinic also prevents access to clonazepam and minimizes relapse.

On the other hand, people that require a long taper may not be able to remain away from home for that length of time, which makes outpatient more appealing.

The recommended course of action will depend on:

  • The person’s level of dependence.
  • Whether the person has a history of withdrawal complications.
  • The existence of other physical or mental health conditions.
  • Abuse of other drugs or alcohol, and their level of support.

Treatment for Clonazepam After Withdrawals

Detoxification is an important part of recovery, but it alone is rarely enough to maintain a drug-free life.8 Fortunately, there are many treatment options to consider the following detoxification.8,9

  • Inpatient Rehab: Inpatient treatment focuses on therapy and round the clock support to help people struggling after detox learn healthier ways to cope with their addiction.
  • Outpatient Rehab: Outpatient treatment is flexible and offers a range of programs that can include 30 hours of treatment per week down to one hour per month.

Regardless of the treatment setting, the professional will conduct individual or group counseling sessions that use several forms of therapy, including the following:8

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Family therapy
  • Motivational interviewing (MI)
  • Contingency management (CM)

These treatment styles can provide introductions to different stress management techniques as well as help to address any underlying mental health conditions. Rehabilitation, whether it is provided through inpatient or outpatient facilities, can also assist people with social or interpersonal issues, housing and career options, relapse prevention, family difficulties, and legal issues.

Learn more about substance abuse treatment options.

Clonazepam Information at a Glance
Medication Name, Costs Class of Medicine
Generic Name: Clonazepam
Brand Name: Klonopin
Cost/Price: $0.07-$2.85 1
Type of Drug: central nervous system (CNS) depressant/benzodiazepine
Function or Use at Low or High Dose: treat seizures and panic disorder 2
Form, Intake, and Dose Interactions and Complications
Drug Forms: Tablet 2
Administration Routes: Oral 2
Dose: 1.5 mg/day to 20 mg/day for seizure disorders, 0.25 mg/day to 4mg/day for panic disorder 2
Alcohol Interaction: can increase sleepiness and dizziness and intensify respiratory depressive effects 2
Prescription Medications: added depressive effects (sleepiness, dizziness) when taken with other CNS depressants 2
Contraindications: patients with a history of sensitivity to benzodiazepines, liver disease, and/or glaucoma 2
Effects and Adverse Reactions Substance Abuse
Short-Term: ataxia, drowsiness, abnormal eye movements, dizziness, memory loss, fatigue, headache, palpitations, nausea, muscle weakness 2
Overdose Symptoms: sleepiness, drowsiness, confusion, coma, diminished reflexes, slowed breathing 2
Risk of Substance Abuse: Yes 2
Signs of Abuse: secretive behavior, an obsession to use clonazepam
Physiological Problem Signs and Symptoms Dependence and Addiction Issues
Withdrawal Syndrome Onset: 1-4 days 3
Withdrawal Symptoms: anxiety, sleep problems, weight loss, seizures, and psychotic reactions 3
Tolerance: Yes
Physical Dependence: Yes 2
Psychological Dependence: Yes 2
Legal Schedules and Ratings
Controlled Substances Act Rating: Schedule IV 2

[1]. Drug Enforcement Administration. (2013). Benzodiazepines.

[2]. U.S. National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus. (2016). Clonazepam.

[3]. National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens. (2016). Prescription Depressants.

[4]. Medscape. (2016). Withdrawal Syndromes.

[5]. World Health Organization. (2009). Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Setting.

[6]. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2015). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.

[7]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Misuse of Prescription Drugs.

[8]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2016). Drug Facts: Treatment Approaches for Drug Addiction.

[9]. National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2014). Principles of Adolescent Substance Use Disorder Treatment: A Research-Based Guide.

[10]. Petursson, H. (1994). The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromeAddiction89(11), 1455-1459.

 Clonazepam Information at a Glance Sources

[1]. DrugBank. (n.d.). Clonazepam.

[2]. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Klonopin Tablets.

[3]. Petursson, H. (1994). The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndromeAddiction89(11), 1455-1459.

 

 

Frequently asked questions

  • The timeline for each person is different, depending on the length of use and other factors. Most people experience symptoms 24 to 48 hours after their last dose that can last up to 2-4 weeks, though they can last longer.5

  • Clonazepam withdrawal may have life-threatening effects, such as seizures. It is best to forego any “natural” or alternative methods in favor of immediate professional help. This is the only way to receive the proper assessment, observation, and treatment needed to avoid the many uncomfortable and potentially dangerous symptoms that can emerge during withdrawal.

  • Clonazepam can trigger withdrawal effects that last for more than 4 weeks in some situations.5