Klonopin, otherwise known as clonazepam, is a benzodiazepine medication that is commonly prescribed to control seizures, muscle problems, and treat anxiety. It works by slowing down electrical activities within the brain, but beyond that, no one is really sure which areas of the brain are being impacted. Prescription drugs that are fully understood can be dangerous enough, but the unknown mechanisms behind Klonopin makes it doubly dangerous to abuse, which is why the family members of a person who is prescribed Klonopin must remain vigilant for signs of misuse.
Prescription or not, Klonopin is a highly addictive drug by nature. In fact, developing an addiction is almost inevitable if this drug is taken for long enough, which is why Klonopin is prescribed for short periods of time, and for serious health complications only. It has a relatively long half-life (the duration in which the drug stays in the body) so that, in theory, people would not have to take it as frequently as they would with other benzodiazepines. Having a long half-life may seem like a good idea, but it unfortunately does not stop many from abusing their medication, and may actually make its effects even worse.
Most people experience euphoria from Klonopin, and that is where the trouble begins. If a person likes the euphoric state from Klonopin too much, they train themselves to develop a psychological dependence on the drug. This is very common with anti-anxiety meds in general, but especially with benzodiazepines such as Klonopin. Oftentimes, the user is so overjoyed to be experiencing an emotion other than anxiety that they become addicted to the feeling itself, forgetting how the purpose of the drug is to help them function, not feel constant bliss.
Euphoria is an emotional response that users can achieve on their own without abusing Klonopin, but it takes hard work and self-awareness. As a result, addicts will perpetually abuse Klonopin instead of retraining their own reactions and behavior. A tolerance soon develops as the person needs to take more and more to experience the same euphoric state. Although a person usually becomes psychologically dependent first, physical dependence can take mere weeks to form. At this point, the user is both mentally and physically reliant on Klonopin and usually needs outside help to stop.
Once a person is addicted to Klonopin, their brain can no longer function normally without it. Most Klonopin users do not even recognize when they become addiction, which is why loved ones must be on the lookout for any signs of addiction. An addict will have constant cravings for Klonopin, lose interest in people and activities, and typically develop legal or financial troubles as they continue to binge. If you have a loved one with a Klonopin prescription, be on the lookout for slurry speech, fatigue, balance problems, and difficulties with attention span. These withdrawal symptoms can also manifest themselves as feeling dizzy, breathing shallow, or even going into a seizure (which can be fatal).
In addition, pay attention to the length of their Klonopin prescription. If a loved one has been on Klonopin for weeks, you may want to remind them of the highly addictive nature of this drug and see if they will consider other options. If the label changes frequently and shows different doctors, then your loved one may be “doctor shopping” for new prescriptions. Aside from being highly illegal, this is a tell-tale sign of addiction.
Finally, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states that 1 in 500 people will develop suicidal thoughts due to Klonopin (this estimate does not include those abusing the drug without a prescription). With the possibility of suicide, however small, Klonopin users must be constantly monitored by their loved ones for abnormal behavior.
Special consideration must be given to those addicted to Klonopin. While some abuse it without a prescription, many people become addicted to Klonopin after following directions exactly as prescribed. Anxiety disorders can be extremely stressful, so do not hesitate to reach out to your loved ones and see how they are managing with their Klonopin medication on a regular basis. Oftentimes, the best treatment for Klonopin addiction is preventative care.