What Is Klonopin?
Klonopin is the brand name for the generic medication Clonazepam, and it belongs to the class of medications called Benzodiazepines, also called Benzos. Klonopin is FDA-approved for treating seizures and panic disorders. It is also commonly used for the management of mania, restless leg syndrome, and other seizure disorders.
Due to the potential for abuse, only short-term use of Klonopin for the treatment of panic disorders is preferred. Tolerance can develop over time when Klonopin is used in the treatment of seizures, limiting its use in long-term control of epilepsy.
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How Does Klonopin Work?
Klonopin is a long-acting Benzodiazepine that works by decreasing the excitability of neurons, which then produces a calming effect in the brain. This is done through the GABA-A pathway. GABA is the most common neurotransmitter in the central nervous system, particularly in the cortex and limbic system.
Benzodiazepines bind to the GABA-A receptor leading to hyperpolarization of neurons, which then slows the firing of neurons overall to down-regulate. This reduces neuron excitability and results in a relaxed feeling. Clonazepam also increases serotonin production, leading to an increased amount of serotonin available in the brain.
All Benzodiazepines are lipophilic, meaning they can move rapidly across the blood/brain barrier. Klonopin has lower lipid solubility, making it less likely to cause amnesia than other Benzodiazepines. The central nervous system is lipid-rich, providing a suitable environment for lipid-soluble medications to accumulate in these areas leading to high rates of absorption and causing memory loss.
Clonazepam is also considered to be a higher-potency Benzodiazepine with a faster onset of action and improved therapeutic effects making it effective for treatment of anxiety and panic disorders.
Available in tablet form with strengths ranging from 0.25 milligrams to 2 milligrams, Klonopin is taken orally and obtains peak concentration in the blood between one and four hours after ingestion. For the treatment of panic disorders, the dose should start at 0.25 milligrams and not exceed 4 milligrams daily.
Whether it’s the brand name version or the generic type, this drug is metabolized in the liver and has a prolonged half-life, resulting in long-acting effects. Due to this long half-life, it can be taken once or twice daily. Rarely, it may be prescribed three times a day.
Because Klonopin is metabolized by a pathway in the liver, it can result in several drug interactions. Certain antibiotics can lead to increased concentrations of Klonopin when combined.
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How To Identify Klonopin
Klonopin tablets typically have a K in the center. When dispensed in the generic form as Clonazepam, or as an orally disintegrating tablet, it can be available in several colors and different appearances. Several manufacturers produce generic Clonazepam. These tablets may be blue, yellow, white, green, turquoise, coral, orange, or pink among other colors.
If Klonopin is obtained illegally, it may be referred to by different “street” names such as:
- Super Valium
What Does Klonopin Treat?
Like other Benzodiazepines, Klonopin works as a central nervous system depressant. This can be helpful when treating mania, panic disorders, and seizure disorders. This is also a risk factor for abuse when used longer than recommended. It is one of the most prescribed Benzodiazepines, and the second most common Benzodiazepine obtained illegally.
Klonopin is FDA approved for use in seizure disorders and panic disorders. Klonopin suppresses the spike and wave discharge in absence seizures as well as limiting the discharge, amplitude, frequency, and spread in minor motor seizures.
In the treatment of panic disorder, Klonopin can help the brain interpret sensory information, which originates in the cortex and brain stem. Abnormalities in this pathway can lead the brain to misinterpret situations as dangerous due to activation of the behavioral, autonomic, and neuroendocrine activation typical of a panic attack.
Side Effects Of Klonopin
Klonopin can have several side effects when used short-term and long-term. In addition, combining it with other medications or alcohol can significantly increase the risk for dangerous side effects.
This Benzodiazepine can cause sedation, respiratory depression, low blood pressure, lowered inhibition, impaired decision-making, and excessive production of saliva. The extra saliva may appear as increased spit or drooling. Respiratory depression due to Klonopin is caused by the slowing of the brain’s respiratory drive center. It also can inhibit the body’s alarm system to breathe when breathing is slowed to dangerous levels.
Klonopin can produce tolerance when used for longer periods of time. Psychological and physical dependence are also known risks of regular use. Suddenly decreasing the dose significantly or stopping the medication can lead to a risk of seizures. Physical dependence can result in withdrawal symptoms when stopped too quickly. Withdrawal from Klonopin can last for many days to several months.
Withdrawal symptoms may include:
Klonopin can also increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and suicidal ideation. When using the drug, patients should be monitored for worsening of depression or significant changes in mood or behavior, including irritability and aggressive or violent behavior.
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Dangers Of Klonopin
It is estimated that among users of Benzodiazepines, almost a third will become dependent on this medication. This may lead to a compulsion to continue taking Klonopin after it should be discontinued or to avoid physical withdrawal symptoms.
Someone who takes Klonopin may seem drunk and experience sedation, slurred speech, delayed or clumsy fine motor movements, stumbling, and excessive sleepiness. They can also have memory loss and blackouts.
Klonopin easily transfers into blood and brain distribution, leading to a relatively rapid onset of effects, although it works slightly slower than other Benzodiazepines. Its use can lead to respiratory depression. It can be dangerous to combine Klonopin with alcohol or other substances, including cough medicines that contain Codeine, which can also result in respiratory depression. Combining these medications together can lead to death and unintentional overdose.
The ingestion method of Klonopin can also increase its danger, as it is a frequently abused Benzodiazepine that is typically crushed and snorted to get high, enhance another high, or achieve sedation. This provides a much faster onset of action than taking it orally. Klonopin is popular among both Cocaine and Heroin users. Opioid users may also abuse Klonopin to increase their feelings of euphoria.
Is Klonopin Abused?
Klonopin has the potential for abuse, as it is classified as a Schedule IV medication. This classification requires additional control measures when prescribing, as well as for dispensing and refills, due to the potential for misuse and abuse.
Due to Klonopin’s central nervous system depressant effects, taking it can induce the feeling of relaxation or sedation. When abused in combination with Opioids, users may attempt to enhance their high or feeling of euphoria.
Even if Klonopin is used for as little as a few weeks, it can lead to physical and mental dependence. Dependence combined with tolerance can create a dangerous cycle of needing higher doses to avoid the development of unpleasant withdrawal symptoms.
Signs of Klonopin abuse include:
- Visiting multiple physicians to obtain multiple prescriptions
- Forging paper prescriptions
- Obtaining the drug through illegal means
If you are concerned about how much Klonopin or Clonazepam you are taking, you should not abruptly stop taking it without contacting your physician. Stopping too quickly can lead to seizures and hospitalization. If reducing use is desired, the dose will need to be decreased gradually with medical supervision.
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Treatment For Klonopin Addiction
As with other Benzodiazepines, an addiction to Klonopin can lead to serious and potentially life-threatening health conditions. Getting treatment can help get you started on the road to recovery and help you take your life back from addiction.