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Clonazepam Detox Guide: Timelines, Symptoms, & Effects

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Clonazepam, available as both a generic and brand name tablet (Klonopin), is a type of sedative drug belonging to the class of benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines, or “benzos,” provide calming effects on the central nervous system (CNS) and are prescribed to help manage anxiety, panic attacks, and seizures. Clonazepam is a Schedule IV, federally controlled substance, meaning that in carefully prescribed doses, it is a helpful medication; however, it has some potential for abuse and dependence 3. People may misuse or abuse it by taking more than prescribed, taking it more frequently than prescribed, mixing it with other substances, or using it in a way other than directed, such as dissolving the drug in water and injecting it.

Clonazepam abuse can lead to adverse consequences, such as the development of significant physiological dependence on the sedative. When someone develops a dependence, they will experience the withdrawal symptoms if the drug is not in their system. Dependence and associated withdrawal avoidance often fuels the development of chronic patterns of misuse and, eventually, addiction—a progressive condition characterized by compulsive drug use despite negative ramifications. It is not advised that someone looking to quit abusing clonazepam tries to do so on their own, as the withdrawal or detox symptoms can be severe and have potentially fatal complications, such as seizure.

Rather, drug detox programs can provide you with comfort and safety throughout the withdrawal process and foster your transition into an addiction treatment program once the Klonopin has been eliminated from your body.

Detox Options

Medical Detox professionalsIn the past, individuals going through detox rehab were left to suffer without the aid of drugs. There are now many different medications available to help make the process of detoxification easier. The best way to determine the appropriate course of treatment is to discuss your issues with your physician. A doctor can evaluate your current level of addiction and physical health and help set up a plan for recovery. Read More

What Are the Short-term Effects of Clonazepam Use?

Although clonazepam is effective and beneficial when taken as directed, people often abuse it to get high, since it has the potential to produce euphoric feelings. Most short-term effects of Klonopin abuse are not as desirable, though, as they can be problematic. Some immediate effects of clonazepam abuse include 5,7,11:

  • Inappropriate aggressive or sexual behavior.
  • Mood swings.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Emotional blunting.
  • Slurred speech.
  • Tremor.
  • Ataxia (lack of control of body movements).
  • Attention and memory problems.
  • Impaired judgment.
  • Dizziness.
  • Confusion.
  • Drowsiness.
  • Stupor.
  • Coma.

Paradoxical reactions, characterized by contradictory behaviors, can occasionally occur. This phenomenon often consists of impulsivity, excitement, irritability, hostility, and aggression, which can lead to antisocial or violent behaviors 7.

What Are the Consequences of Clonazepam Abuse?

Long-term Klonopin abuse can damage a person’s physical and mental health and significantly impair a user’s life functioning. Some consequences associated with chronic use include 5,7,11:

  • Dependence, the body’s adaptation to the presence of clonazepam, resulting in unpleasant withdrawal symptoms with the cessation of use.
  • Tolerance, resulting in the need to take higher doses to produce previous effects.
  • Substance use disorder, resulting in significant impairment and distress in the user’s life.
  • Increased risk of experiencing a complicated withdrawal, consisting of delirium or seizures.
  • A higher risk of overdosing, particularly if clonazepam is combined with other sedatives, opioids, or alcohol.

These effects of chronic clonazepam use can be debilitating and cause distress and impairment in a user’s life. Don’t hesitate to get help for your addiction and begin on the road to lifelong recovery.

What Are the Withdrawal Symptoms?

When a person has developed a dependence to clonazepam, recovery will begin with abstinence and the elimination of the drug from their body—a duration of time known as detoxification, or detox. The withdrawal symptoms for a person with a clonazepam addiction are not only uncomfortable and unpleasant, but they can be life-threatening as well. People find these symptoms difficult to cope with alone, and many people who try to do a drug detox themselves will quickly relapse and take clonazepam to alleviate the withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms associated with clonazepam detox can include 2,5:

  • Panic and anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Depression.
  • Insomnia.
  • Tremors.
  • Psychomotor agitation, or purposeless, repetitive movements.
  • High pulse and respiratory rate.
  • Excessive sweating.
  • Nausea and vomiting.
  • Loss of appetite.
  • Hallucinations.
  • Profound confusion.
  • Visual and auditory disturbances.
  • Seizures.

Do not attempt to withdraw on your own from clonazepam due to the potential for serious complications. Instead, seek out a professional detox program that can ensure your safety.

How Long Can I Expect to Be in Detox?

It is difficult to say how long it will take for a person to undergo a clonazepam detox. There are many factors that determine the length of detox, such as the person’s overall physical and mental health, age, physiological make-up, the length and severity of the addiction, and if the individual has an addiction to other substances. That being said, Klonopin is an intermediate-acting benzodiazepine with a relatively long half-life, which means that when you stop taking clonazepam, the withdrawal symptoms may not appear as immediately as they do with short-acting benzodiazepines, such as Ativan 5.

Although the Klonopin withdrawal timeline can vary from person to person, below is a general timeline of how the clonazepam withdrawal syndrome may manifest 5:

  • Week 1: Symptoms may appear about a week after the last dose.
  • Week 2: Symptoms often peak in intensity around the second week.
  • Weeks 3 and 4: Symptoms are likely to gradually dissipate and resolve.

Effects of Clonazepam Withdrawal

Individuals who have abused clonazepam for extended periods of time, particularly in high doses, may experience withdrawal symptoms long after the acute withdrawal syndrome has been resolved. These withdrawal symptoms, which can last for weeks, months, or even years, are referred to as protracted withdrawal or post-acute withdrawal syndrome. These persisting symptoms can be distressing and impede long-term recovery. Protracted withdrawal symptoms may include the following 7,8:

anxious man with hand over his face

  • Clonazepam cravings.
  • Decreased interest in sex.
  • Memory impairment.
  • Concentration problems.
  • Anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure.
  • Depression.
  • Panic attacks.
  • Anxiety.
  • Irritability.
  • Insomnia.
  • Obsessive compulsive symptoms.

Even after you have completed a Klonopin detox program, these symptoms can persist, which is why it’s terribly important that you seek post-detox addiction treatment. A clonazepam addiction treatment program can provide you with healthy coping strategies, sober social skills, the ability to avoid triggers, psychological and emotional support, and a foundation for long-term sobriety.

Detox Options

When suffering from a clonazepam addiction or an addiction to any other substance, you may not know the first step to take towards recovery and a happier, sober life. Although detoxification doesn’t constitute formal substance addiction treatment itself, it is an invaluable asset on the continuum of care and road to recovery.

Klonopin withdrawal symptoms can be unpleasant, painful, and sometimes life-threatening without proper medical attention and care. Detoxing on your own can be risky and many people relapse to ease the distress of withdrawal. To mitigate these complications and withdraw comfortably and safely, enter a clonazepam detox program. A detox program can also provide you with a smooth transition into drug abuse treatment once your body is clean of any substances.

There are different settings for clonazepam detox, and before enrolling in a program, it’s pertinent that you seek out a professional screening through a substance abuse professional or physician. The professional can assess your risk for having a complicated or severe withdrawal syndrome associated with quitting clonazepam and recommend the proper level of detox care for you.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) asserts that 24-hour monitoring and care is the preferred setting for withdrawal from benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam 9. This recommendation takes safety and humanitarian concerns into consideration.

Below is a list of the detox options for you:

  • Inpatient: These types of programs provide constant oversight and medical and psychiatric care. This may be necessary if someone has a long-standing addiction or other physical or mental health issues.
  • Hospital: Hospitals admit patients to the intensive care unit for 24-hour monitoring and care while they detox from benzodiazepines. Hospital staff can administer medications to reduce the risk of medical emergencies and provide comfort throughout the process.
  • Outpatient: These types of programs are often appropriate for less serious situations. A patient can live at home while attending detox at an outpatient facility each day. This usually involves gradual tapering of the drug.
  • A doctor’s office: There are also protocols in place for detox under a doctor’s care, in which you visit their office regularly to have your withdrawal progress monitored as you are slowly tapered off of the sedative.

Again, if you are addicted to clonazepam or any other benzodiazepine, don’t choose a detox program without first seeking the advice of a medical or mental health professional. They can help guide you towards detox services that best meet your individual needs.

Post-Detox Treatment

post detox therapyAfter completing clonazepam detox, the next step towards long-term recovery is to enter a professional substance abuse treatment program. In treatment, you can work with addiction and mental health professionals to learn the skills you need to remain sober. Without formal treatment, the risk for relapse and overdose is extremely high. Without treatment support, returning immediately post-detox to the environment where you used to abuse clonazepam—filled with old triggers and stressors—can be extremely difficult. Treatment can help you remove yourself from triggers and focus solely on your treatment goals and your road to recovery.

In addition, addiction treatment can help you address the underlying issues that contribute to your clonazepam abuse. Many people who abuse benzodiazepines struggle with issues related to mental health, poor relationships, past trauma, and financial distress. Working with therapists can provide you with healthy coping skills so you feel prepared to transition out of treatment and remain clean and sober. Certain therapies can also help you recognize and change maladaptive thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that contribute to your drug abuse.

Given the range of options when it comes to treatment, it is important that you research treatment programs so you can pick one that is going to be the best fit for you. For example, treatment centers may or may not include individual therapy, group counseling, relapse prevention classes, aftercare planning, medical and psychiatric care, and medication-assisted treatment. Other factors that differentiate facilities include:

  • Degree of medical management.
  • Degree of structure, safety and security.
  • Intensity of treatment provided.
  • Amenities offered.

Some of these features may be extremely important to you, while others are not. It can be helpful to make a list of what you want in treatment and discuss this with your treatment counselor before choosing a facility.

Inpatient Treatment

Inpatient treatment requires that you live on the facility grounds throughout the program. These programs provide a high level of structure and a safe environment so that you will not be triggered to use clonazepam or any other drugs. Each facility practices a different treatment approach, but in general you can expect that many inpatient treatment programs will provide you with an individualized treatment plan, individual therapy, group counseling, family therapy, relapse prevention classes, support groups, and aftercare planning. At many of these facilities, you will begin working on aftercare planning soon after entering the facility. Relapse is common, so it is important that you begin thinking about how you will resist the temptation to use clonazepam after leaving treatment.

The price of inpatient treatment will vary greatly depending on a number of factors, including:

  • Amenities provided (i.e. private rooms, pool, chef-prepared meals, etc.).
  • Location (beach settings tend to be more expensive).
  • Program length (90 day programs are more expensive than 60 or 30).
  • Your insurance coverage.

Outpatient Treatment

Another option for treatment is outpatient treatment. There are different levels of care when it comes to the outpatient model. These include 10:

  • Partial hospitalization program (PHP): These programs provide intensive care during the day. During your stay in a PHP program, you will travel to the hospital for treatment for 4 to 6-hours a day, 5 days per week. If you are not stable enough to access treatment independently, but you are deemed safe enough to leave the hospital at night and on weekends, this is a great option. PHPs focus heavily on individual and group therapy, as well as coping and decision-making skill sessions.
  • Intensive outpatient program (IOP): IOPs can be a way to step down from PHP treatment. IOPs focus heavily on group therapy and family therapy. People who are in these programs tend to have less acute symptoms than those in PHPs or inpatient programs. IOP treatment ranges from 3 to 12 hours of therapy per week and generally meet for 2 to 4 days a week.
  • Standard outpatient: If your addiction to clonazepam is less severe, standard outpatient treatment is a great alternative. In outpatient treatment, you will live at home and visit the facility for a set number of hours per week to work with a therapist and engage in group counseling. After finishing inpatient treatment, some individuals will be referred to outpatient treatment as the next step in their recovery. Standard outpatient programs may meet 1-2 times per week for 1-2 hours each day.

Sources

  1. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2014). Results From the Findings of the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings.
  2. State Library of New South Wales. (2016). Benzodiazepines.
  3. Drug Enforcement Agency. (2017). Drug Schedules.
  4. Petursson, H. (1994). The Benzodiazepine Withdrawal Syndrome.
  5. American Psychiatric Association. (2013). Desk Reference to the Diagnostic Criteria from DSM-5. Arlington, VA: American Psychiatric Association.
  6. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (2006). Physical Detoxification Services for Withdrawal from Specific Substances.
  7. Longo, L.P., & Johnson, B. (2000). Addiction: Part I. Benzodiazepines—side effects abuse risk and alternatives. American Academy of Family Physicians, 61(7), 2121-2128.
  8. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2010). Substance Abuse Treatment Advisory: Protracted Withdrawal.
  9. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. (2006). Detoxification and Substance Abuse Treatment.
  10. Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. (2009). Impacts Associated with the Medicare Psychiatric PPS: A Study of Partial Hospitalization Programs.
  11. Food and Drug Administration. (n.d.). Klonopin Tablets (clonazepam).

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