Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline, and Effects
Clonazepam (Klonopin) is used to treat seizures and anxiety. It is effective when taken as prescribed, but long-term use can lead to psychological and physical dependence.6
People who are dependent and abruptly stop using clonazepam may experience withdrawal signs and symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, tremors, and muscle cramps.1,6 People who have been taken large doses over a long period of time may experience more severe symptoms such as seizures, hallucinations, and convulsions.6
Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms
Signs and symptoms can include anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, and depression. Clonazepam withdrawal signs and symptoms will vary and may include: 1,3
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Poor memory.
- Muscle tension.
- Muscle aches.
High-dose clonazepam users may experience more severe effects, such as: 2
- Psychotic reactions.
A number of factors can influence the severity of clonazepam withdrawal signs and symptoms, such as: Duration of use, route of administration (oral vs. injected), the concurrent use of multiple drugs, and the dose regularly used.
Roughly 10-15% of heavy benzodiazepine users suffer from protracted withdrawal symptoms after they stop their drug use. 8 Protracted withdrawal can last up to a year or longer and may involve any of the following symptoms: 3
- Anxiety: Feelings of anxiety can persist for months after withdrawal and may last as long as 1-2 years. Following withdrawal, users may be less able to cope with stressful situations. During recovery, those who still experience anxiety may need to develop healthy coping mechanisms and explore other non-pharmacologic interventions for managing their anxiety.
- Depression: People commonly experience depression during clonazepam withdrawal, and it is possible for depression to persist for months.
- Paresthesia: People may feel a tingling, “pins and needles” sensation, or numbness in their arms and legs. This symptom may occur as a result of hyperventilation. Heavy use of benzodiazepines can trigger hyperventilation and as a result, paresthesia can persist for months or even years after withdrawal.
- Motor symptoms: Some people may experience ongoing muscle jerking after the initial withdrawal. Some people complain of violent jerking during sleep, as well as restless legs.
- Gastrointestinal symptoms: These are very common, and users may develop symptoms similar to those seen with irritable bowel syndrome. These symptoms can be aggravated by hyperventilation and may disappear after withdrawal, but in some cases it may continue to bother the user.
Clonazepam Withdrawal Timeline
Benzodiazepines have short, intermediate, and long durations of action. The type of drug will affect the withdrawal timeline. Clonazepam is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine. The clonazepam withdrawal timeline will vary from person to person, but below is a rough outline of what you can expect: 2
- Withdrawal symptoms may begin after the last use of the drug. The most common symptom during this time is short-lived “rebound” anxiety and insomnia. Rebound refers to the return of symptoms that were minimized by the use of the drug.
- The totality of withdrawal syndrome typically lasts for 10 to 14 days.
- Users may experience a return of anxiety symptoms until they access some form of treatment.
In treatment, your doctor will likely taper your clonazepam dose over time or first switch you to a long-acting benzodiazepine prior to decreasing doses of that drug to help stabilize your body and better manage the potential withdrawal effects. The clonazepam withdrawal timeline can be a slow process because your body needs time to adapt to a decrease of clonazepam in its system.
Detox for Clonazepam Withdrawal
Alcohol/drug withdrawal treatment centers include hospitals as well as residential rehabilitation centers and outpatient alcohol/drug withdrawal programs. The timeline for these effects can be anywhere from a few days to 2 weeks or more.2 The timeline will depend on your level and frequency of use.
To safely quit using clonazepam, you will need to go through some form of medically supervised withdrawal, which usually begins with tapering – or gradually reducing your dose. This is the safest and most effective way to withdraw from clonazepam, relieve symptoms, and prevent seizures.
Once your body becomes grows accustomed to the calming or inhibitory effects that clonazepam has been consistently providing, it can be risky to just stop using the drug. In fact, going “cold turkey” can be life-threatening. One of the most serious clonazepam withdrawal effects are grand mal seizures. Other medical complications from clonazepam withdrawal are listed in the accordion below:2
With the support of treatment professionals, you can work through medical or mental health issues that may be contributing to your clonazepam addiction. In a detox program, skilled staff members can monitor you and respond to any medical complications. In addition, you can take an in-depth look at the factors leading to your addiction. With the support of treatment professionals, you can work through medical or mental health issues that may be contributing to your clonazepam addiction. These may include but are not limited to:
- Co-occurring mental health issues.
- Other substance abuse.
- Home environment.
- General health.
- Past trauma.
The safest, most effective way to begin your treatment for clonazepam addiction is through a combination of tapering and psychological support.
. Dolan, K. (2010). Clinical Guidelines For Withdrawal Management And Treatment Of Drug Dependence In Closed Settings. Addiction, 105(7), 1318.
. Petursson, H. (1994). The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome. Addiction, 89(11), 1455-1459.
. Ashton, H. (1991). Protracted withdrawal syndromes from benzodiazepines. Journal of substance abuse treatment, 8(1-2), 19-28.
. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Protracted Withdrawal.
. Nardi, A. E., Freire, R. C., Valença, A. M., Amrein, R., de Cerqueira, A. C. R., Lopes, F. L., de Carvalho, M. R. (2010). Tapering clonazepam in patients with panic disorder after at least 3 years of treatment. Journal of clinical psychopharmacology, 30(3), 290-293.
. Food and Drug Administration. (2013). Klonopin Tablets.
. Hood, S. D., Norman, A., Hince, D. A., Melichar, J. K., & Hulse, G. K. (2014). Benzodiazepine dependence and its treatment with low dose flumazenil. British journal of clinical pharmacology, 77(2), 285-294.
. Ashton, H. (1995). Protracted Withdrawal From Benzodiazepines: The Post-Withdrawal Syndrome. Psychiatric Annals 25(3):174-179.