Klonopin Abuse, and Addiction

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Klonopin (clonazepam) misuse and addiction are serious issues that can have devastating effects on a person’s physical, mental, and spiritual health. Klonopin is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed to treat anxiety and seizures, but it can also have the potential for dependence, especially when not used as prescribed. Long-term use of Klonopin can also lead to tolerance and withdrawal symptoms when use is stopped. For these reasons and others, those struggling with Klonopin misuse are urged to seek professional treatment.

At Guardian Recovery, we offer multi-faceted rehab programs developed to help individuals overcome their dependence on Klonopin, other prescription and illicit drugs, and alcohol. Contact us to learn more about our evidence-based, therapeutic services and individualized treatment plans.

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What Is Klonopin & Why Is It Prescribed?

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine commonly prescribed to treat anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and seizures. It works by boosting the effects of GABA, an inhibitory chemical messenger that slows brain activity, reduces anxiety, and produces a calming effect. (1) Klonopin can be effective in treating these conditions, but it can also be habit-forming and should only be used under a health provider’s direction. It is absolutely essential to follow the prescribed dosage and not use Klonopin for recreational purposes. Also, Klonopin use should not be stopped abruptly, as severe, possibly life-threatening withdrawal symptoms can occur.

How Can Prescription Klonopin Use Become Addictive?

Prescription Klonopin can become addictive due to several factors related to its mechanism of action and the individual’s response to the drug.

Factors Contributing to Prescription Klonopin Addiction Include:

  • Physiological dependence, occurring after prolonged use when the body becomes accustomed to the drug’s presence, resulting in withdrawal symptoms.
  • Psychological dependence, developing after prolonged use when individuals come to rely on the drug’s effects to cope with stress, anxiety, or other emotional issues.
  • Tolerance with continued use, which requires increasingly higher doses to achieve the desired effects and leading to a cycle of escalating drug use.
  • Cravings triggered by the pleasurable and anti-anxiety effects of the drug, thereby encouraging drug misuse and fueling addiction.
  • Co-occurring mental health conditions, especially if they are not effectively managed through other therapeutic approaches.
  • Misuse and recreational use for non-medical purposes, such as seeking sedation, euphoria, or other rewarding effects.

Klonopin Abuse Statistics

Due to its potential to become habit-forming, Klonopin is frequently prescribed, and misuse is not at all uncommon. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that among all people aged 12 or older, those who misused prescription benzodiazepines in the previous year decreased from 5.5 million (2.1%) in 2015 to 4.8 million (1.8%) in 2019. (2)

Of those aged 12–17 in 2019, 1.5 % (or 381,000 people) reported past-year misuse of prescription benzodiazepines, equal to 1.5% in 2015. Similarly, among adults aged 26 or older, 1.5% (or 3.2 million people) reported past-year prescription benzodiazepine misuse, down slightly from 1.6% in 2015. Moreover, these numbers remained stable among both populations between 2015 and 2019.

The most significant reduction in past-year benzodiazepine misuse in 2019 was among young adults, specifically those between the ages of 18 and 25. These figures decreased from 1.8 million people (5.2%) in 2015 to 1.3 million people (3.8%) in 2019.

Finally, according to Psychiatry Online, adults aged 50 and older were more likely than younger adults to misuse a benzodiazepine by taking it more often than prescribed or to help with sleep. (3)

Causes & Risk Factors for Klonopin Dependence

The development of Klonopin (clonazepam) dependence can be influenced by a combination of factors, including individual characteristics and patterns of medication use.

Causes & Risk Factors Associated With Klonopin Dependence Include:

  • Chronic, excessive, or high-dose use.
  • Misuse or recreational use, such as to experience euphoria or for self-medication.
  • Personal or family history of substance misuse and genetic factors
  • Environmental factors, such as peer pressure, or being exposed to situations in which drug use is condoned or encouraged.
  • Co-occurring mental health disorders, including anxiety, depression, and bipolar disorder.
  • Concurrent use of other substances, such as alcohol, opioids, or sedatives.
  • Psychological factors, including a history of trauma, stress, and underlying mental health disorders.
  • Lack of support, treatment, or monitoring during a therapeutic course of Klonopin use.

Furthermore, while Klonopin misuse can impact people of all ages and backgrounds, certain demographics may be more vulnerable, including women and older adults, partly due to the fact that they are more often prescribed it. (4)

Adverse Side Effects of Klonopin Use Include:

  • Sedation and drowsiness.
  • Concentration issues, memory impairments, confusion, slowed thinking, and reduced alertness.
  • Muscle weakness, fatigue, and reduced physical strength.
  • Impaired coordination and difficulty with balance.
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness.
  • Nausea, vomiting, constipation, or changes in appetite.
  • Respiratory depression, shallow or slowed breathing.
  • Adverse mood changes.
  • Withdrawal symptoms, such as anxiety, insomnia, tremors, sweating, irritability, and seizures.

What Are the Effects of Klonopin Use on Mental Health?

When used as prescribed and under medical supervision, it can be effective in managing these conditions and improving mental health. However, note that Klonopin, like other benzodiazepines, can have various effects on mental health, both beneficial and adverse.

Potential Positive Mental Health Effects of Klonopin Include: 

  • Improved overall mental and emotional well-being.
  • Reduction in feelings of anxiety, tension, stress, and worry.
  • Sedation, relaxation, and improved sleep quality.
  • Mood stabilization for co-occurring mood disorders, such as bipolar disorder.
  • Muscle relaxation, reduced physical discomfort, and improved mood.

Potential Adverse Mental Health Effects of Klonopin Include: 

  • Psychological dependence.
  • Cognitive and memory difficulties.
  • Excess sleepiness.
  • Emotional numbing.
  • Disinhibition and impulsivity.
  • Depression with long-term use.
  • Increase in anxiety symptoms after quitting.

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What Are the Distinct Signs Someone May Be Addicted to Klonopin?

Recognizing signs of Klonopin addiction can be key to identifying a substance use problem and seeking appropriate help.

Signs of Klonopin Addiction Include:

  • Increased tolerance.
  • Withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation.
  • Obsession with or compulsive use despite adverse consequences.
  • Preoccupation with using the medication.
  • Doctor shopping or seeking multiple prescriptions. (5)
  • Neglecting responsibilities while prioritizing use.
  • Social and occupational impairments.
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities.
  • Financial issues arising from prescription drug misuse.
  • Inability to quit or cut down, even after multiple attempts.

Long-Term Health Issues Caused By Klonopin Use

Long-term use of Klonopin (clonazepam) can potentially lead to several health issues, especially when used improperly or without medical supervision.

Long-Term Health Problems May Include:

  • Persistent cognitive impairment.
  • High risk of physical and emotional dependence.
  • Increased risk of accidents and falls, especially in older adults.
  • Respiratory issues, especially among those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
  • Impaired liver function.
  • Reduced quality of life due to physical, mental, social, and financial problems.

Dangers of a Klonopin Overdose

Using more than the prescribed dosage or misusing the medication in a way not intended by a healthcare professional can increase the risk of overdose, which can be extremely dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

Klonopin Overdose Dangers Include:

  • Central nervous system depression, including slowed or labored breathing, extreme sedation, drowsiness, and confusion.
  • Respiratory arrest.
  • Life-threatening coma or deep state of unconsciousness.
  • Impaired coordination and motor function.
  • Changes in heart rate, blood pressure, and heart rhythm, and life-threatening cardiovascular collapse in severe cases.
  • Memory loss, confusion, and disorientation that prevents victims from seeking appropriate help.
  • Increased risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

If you suspect a Klonopin overdose or witness someone experiencing symptoms of an overdose, it is crucial to call 911 and seek emergency medical assistance immediately. Overdoses involving other depressants, such as opioids or alcohol, are particularly dangerous, and death is not uncommon.

Treatment Options Available for Klonopin Addiction & Withdrawal

The treatment for Klonopin detox and addiction varies depending on the severity of the individual’s addiction and their unique needs. However, there are several common approaches and components in the treatment process.

Commonly Used Treatments Include:

  • Medical Detox—This process manages withdrawal in a safe and controlled environment supervised by licensed health professionals.
  • Individualized Therapies—These are designed to help individuals modify their attitudes, behaviors, and thought patterns related to substance use. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), motivational interviewing, and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) are some common therapeutic approaches used for this purpose.
  • Group Therapy—These are sessions that allow individuals to connect with others who are going through similar experiences and share their challenges, gain insight, and receive encouragement from peers.
  • Support Groups—These include 12-step programs (e.g., Narcotics Anonymous) that offer a supportive community of individuals in various stages of recovery.
  • Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)—For certain addictions, medications may be prescribed to help manage cravings and reduce withdrawal symptoms.
  • Holistic Approaches—These include complementary and alternative therapies, such as mindfulness, yoga, art therapy, and acupuncture, that help address the overall well-being of individuals in recovery.

Aftercare and Relapse Prevention—Ongoing aftercare support is crucial to prevent relapse and maintain long-term recovery, such as continued therapy and regular check-ins with healthcare professionals.

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Contact Guardian Recovery for Addictions to Klonopin, Other Drugs, & Alcohol

Guardian Recovery offers comprehensive addiction treatment programs led by our team of highly experienced physical and mental healthcare professionals. We are committed to helping individuals sustain lasting recovery from Klonopin addiction as well as other drug and alcohol dependencies.

Reach out to us today to speak to a skilled treatment advisor and receive a free assessment and health insurance benefits check. You can learn more about our streamlined admissions process, multiple levels of care, and personalized treatment options. We understand that seeking help for addiction can be overwhelming, but our compassionate team is here to help you navigate the recovery journey and regain control of your life.


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Disclaimer: Does not guarantee specific treatment outcomes, as individual results may vary. Our services are not a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis; please consult a qualified healthcare provider for such matters.

  1. https://www.prevention.com/health/mental-health/a40516912/what-is-gaba-uses/
  2. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29393/2019NSDUHFFRPDFWHTML/2019NSDUHFFR090120.htm#illi11
  3. https://ps.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ps.201800321#
  4. https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nhsr/nhsr137-508.pdf
  5. https://www.cdc.gov/phlp/docs/menu-shoppinglaws.pdf

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Reviewed professionally for accuracy by:

Ryan Soave


Ryan Soave brings deep experience as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, certified trauma therapist, program developer, and research consultant for Huberman Lab at Stanford University Department of Neurobiology. Post-graduation from Wake Forest University, Ryan quickly discovered his acumen for the business world. After almost a decade of successful entrepreneurship and world traveling, he encountered a wave of personal and spiritual challenges; he felt a calling for something more. Ryan returned to school and completed his Master’s Degree in Mental Health Counseling. When he started working with those suffering from addiction and PTSD, he found his passion. He has never looked back.

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Cayla Clark

Cayla Clark grew up in Santa Barbara, CA and graduated from UCLA with a degree in playwriting. Since then she has been writing on addiction recovery and psychology full-time, and has found a home as part of the Guardian Recovery team.

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