Klonopin is the brand name for clonazepam, a prescription medication that is classified as a benzodiazepine, a grouping of substances with sedative effects that are commonly used to treat the symptoms of:
- Panic disorder
- Restless leg syndrome
- Bipolar disorder
What Are the Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms?
Benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, are not typically prescribed for long-term use. However, a large number of individuals abuse these drugs due to the tranquilizing effects they have on the body and brain and become dependent on them.
Klonopin works in the same manner as other benzodiazepines, entering the brain and binding itself to gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) receptors. GABA is a neurotransmitter that regulates how the body responds to things like stress, fear, and anxiety. It blocks the nerve impulses responsible for creating and transmitting those feelings to help calm the body down.
By binding to the brain’s GABA receptors and activating them, Klonopin stimulates GABA production and greatly increases its levels within the synapses. This creates a much more powerful block against those feelings of anxiety and replaces them with feelings of relaxation and sedation.
When someone becomes psychologically and physically dependent on Klonopin, their brain begins producing less of its own GABA and becomes reliant on the artificial GABA from Klonopin in order to function normally. This is why when someone tries to stop taking Klonopin, the body experiences a shock and crashes as the GABA levels bottom out.
This process is what causes Klonopin withdrawal symptoms, and the lack of GABA is why the majority of the symptoms are psychological. There is now nothing blocking the signals of anxiety and stress from assaulting the brain.
The symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal generally include more mild, early symptoms such as:
- Appetite loss
- Muscle aches or spasms
These symptoms are then usually followed by the more intense ones that are associated with the peak withdrawal period:
- Uncontrollable crying
- Seizures (although these tend to be more rare)
- Vivid nightmares or other sleep disturbances
- Severe depression
- Suicidal thoughts or behavior
- Rebound insomnia
- Rebound anxiety
Can Klonopin Withdrawal Kill You?
“Withdrawal from benzodiazepines is among some of the most unpleasant and difficult withdrawal experiences. The symptoms range from extremely uncomfortable to potentially fatal. ”
Detoxing in a medical facility is strongly recommended, especially when dealing with drugs as harsh as Klonopin. Also, if someone is using other substances in conjunction with Klonopin, their risk for developing more severe consequences becomes significantly higher.
Rebound anxiety and insomnia can be two of the most difficult symptoms to manage for those undergoing Klonopin detox. The symptoms of anxiety or insomnia are the main reasons why many people dependent on Klonopin began taking it.
Once Klonopin withdrawal begins, old symptoms return. Whether they are from anxiety or insomnia, in their rebound form, they are significantly more intense than they were before taking Klonopin. This is because the body has become dependent on Klonopin to block these symptoms.
Rebound anxiety can result in extreme panic attacks and paranoia, and rebound insomnia can cause total sleeplessness for days on end.
Also, Klonopin withdrawal can get even worse and more dangerous, as rebound insomnia, anxiety, and many of the other symptoms can become even more intense and last much longer if the person detoxing is also experiencing what is known as benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome not only makes Klonopin withdrawal more of an ordeal, but it also can manifest extreme symptoms not typically associated with Klonopin withdrawal.
These include, but are not limited to:
- Heart palpitations
People who were regularly abusing very high doses of Klonopin, within a short time frame, and before undergoing detox, are most likely to experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome.
Knowing all that is involved with Klonopin withdrawal, it’s understandable that those going through Klonopin detox are at high risk of relapse. To find some relief from their Klonopin withdrawal symptoms, they are likely to overdose on the drug accidentally, with potentially fatal results.
Beyond that, several of the symptoms themselves can be deadly without the aid and intervention of a medical detoxification specialist. These include the potential for self-harm as a result of delirium, hallucinations, and suicidal thoughts, along with the possibility of Grand mal seizures as a result of attempting to quit using Klonopin cold turkey.
Controlled medical detox can help ease the discomfort of many Klonopin withdrawal symptoms. A doctor will make sure you are on a tapering schedule that slowly and safely reduces your dosage of Klonopin, without the risk of seizures.
The health consequences of abusing drugs such as Klonopin can be detrimental to your health and life. Detoxing from any benzodiazepine is dangerous, and it can cause a number of unpleasant and life-threatening complications. Understanding the importance of detoxing from Klonopin in a medical facility can be the deciding factor in your safety and your success.
What Are the Stages of the Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline?
The Klonopin withdrawal timeline generally lines up with the withdrawal periods of most other benzodiazepines. However, the specific length of withdrawal will vary from person to person depending on factors unique to a given individual, including:
- How long someone has been abusing Klonopin
- How much Klonopin they were abusing
- If they were abusing Klonopin at the same time as alcohol or other
- they were taking Klonopin (orally as a tablet, crushed and snorted, etc.)
- If they have a history of prior addictions
- If they have a co-occurring disorder or other mental health issues
- Their current state of overall physical health
- If they experience benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome
- Whether or not they are put on a tapering schedule to stop using Klonopin
Keeping these factors in mind, the established timeline for Klonopin withdrawal will typically go as followed:
- One to Three Days: Klonopin has a particularly long half-life of anywhere from 18 to 50 hours, which means that it can take up to several days to start experiencing early Klonopin withdrawal symptoms such as mood swings, insomnia, anxiety, and irritability.
- Seven to 10 Days: Within the first week of Klonopin withdrawal, the symptoms will peak. The most intense symptoms may begin to appear, including tremors or seizures. All of the initial feelings within the first couple of days will increase and might be uncontrollable if you aren’t under the care of a medical professional. This is also the stage when people are most vulnerable to having a relapse.
- Three to Four Weeks: Because of how long Klonopin stays in a person’s system, the withdrawal period can last a while. Many of the symptoms will still be present and will, at least, have significantly lessened and become easier to manage.
- One Month and Beyond: At roughly the one month-mark after the last use, the majority of the Klonopin withdrawal symptoms should have stopped, although anxiety and other psychological symptoms may linger.
Tapering down Klonopin usage can protract the withdrawal process and take as long as two months to complete. In the case of severe addiction, it is the safest option and a small price to pay for avoiding life-threatening seizures. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome may also lengthen the withdrawal process.
There is also the danger of post-acute withdrawal syndrome or PAWS, a condition in which the following symptoms may come and go intermittently for months after someone has completed Klonopin withdrawal:
- Mood swings
- Inability to concentrate
- Drug cravings
- Impaired balance and coordination
- Increase in pain sensitivity
People in withdrawal from benzodiazepines, in particular, are susceptible to PAWS, which unfortunately has no set timeline for how long it can last.
What Can Help With Klonopin Withdrawal?
When undergoing Klonopin detox at a medical facility, there are several medications commonly utilized by doctors to help treat some of the more unpleasant Klonopin withdrawal symptoms, including:
- Melatonin: It might sound surprising, but this over-the-counter supplement can be extremely useful in bypassing the tolerance issues caused by abusing Klonopin to reduce both anxiety and insomnia symptoms.
- Antidepressants: Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors such as Paxil, Prozac, or Zoloft have been successful in helping to minimize the impact of symptoms like rebound anxiety and depression, as well as curbing suicidal thoughts and behavior.
- Anticonvulsants: These medications are generally only administered if someone experiences seizures during the process of Klonopin detox. It has; however, been found useful in some cases for treating general symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal.
What is the Next Treatment Step?
Following through with continuous treatment after detox is suggested by most addiction specialists. The importance of attending an inpatient facility is to treat addiction from a therapeutic and psychological standpoint.
The benefits of inpatient facilities are having access to:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Individual therapy
- Group therapy sessions
- Family therapy sessions
- Relapse prevention
- Addiction education
- Medication for dual diagnosis
Inpatient or residential facilities are generally around 45 days and provide those struggling with Klonopin addiction with the care they need to successfully overcome Klonopin withdrawal and the side effects associated with long-term drug use.
Since PAWS usually peaks within the first month or two after the last dose, it is beneficial to someone’s recovery and safety to be surrounded by professionals and support in the rough stages of early recovery.
After completing an inpatient program, individuals are often suggested to attend an outpatient program as well.
This style of addiction treatment is less intense yet equally as effective as inpatient programs. The idea behind the importance of outpatient is to give people time to adjust into society without the use of mind or mood altering substances while still holding themselves accountable and having access to the continuous care needed for long-term success.