Klonopin, with the generic name clonazepam, is a benzodiazepine drug. These drugs function as central nervous system depressants, sedatives, or tranquilizers. In other words, they slow down the functions of your brain to help you feel relaxed and calm.
In particular, Klonopin is used to treat seizures and panic attacks induced by anxiety disorders. It works by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. GABA is a molecule in the brain that helps ease emotional stress. It also helps bring down high blood pressure and rapid heart rates.
However, Klonopin has the potential to make you physically and psychologically dependent on it. When your doctor prescribes this drug to you, follow your prescription to the letter. Do not attempt to stop taking the drug without medical supervision, as you could experience Klonopin withdrawal.
If you are going through withdrawal, there are medications that can help you overcome it. Read on to find out more about them.
What are the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal?
Withdrawal symptoms begin to manifest 1 to 3 days after the last dose of Klonopin. These are the common physical withdrawal symptoms:
- Stomach pain
- Short-term memory loss
- Irregular heartbeat or palpitations
- Increased blood pressure
- Impaired respiration
- Blurred vision
- Muscle spasms and cramps
- Impaired coordination and motor functions
- Feeling lightheaded
There are also psychological symptoms, such as:
- Drug cravings
- Anger and hostility
- Mental confusion
- Short-term memory lapses
- Difficulties concentrating
- Drastic mood swings
- Trouble feeling pleasure
- Lack of motivation
- Feeling disconnected from reality
Acute withdrawal symptoms reach their peak about 2 weeks after you stop taking Klonopin, and they start to subside in the third or fourth week.
Blood pressure, heart rate, breathing, and body temperature are critical signs to watch out for during Klonopin withdrawal. At any point, these vital signs can reach unhealthy levels quickly. Additionally, seizures are particularly dangerous, as they can become life-threatening. It is even possible to suffer a fatal coma during the withdrawal period.
Some symptoms may persist for up to three months. This is known as post-acute withdrawal, and it includes symptoms like:
- Mood swings
How do I quit Klonopin safely?
When you have become dependent on Klonopin and want to quit, do not try to quit on your own. Suddenly stopping intake of the drug can lead to potentially fatal withdrawal symptoms. Instead, ask your doctor for help.
To safely end your dependence on Klonopin, you need to go through medically assisted detox. Medical professionals will assist you throughout the entire process, ensuring it is as painless and tolerable as possible.
The first step in safely quitting Klonopin is tapering off your dose slowly. This can take about 2 or 3 weeks, and it is often part of a medical detox program. Taking smaller doses of the drug gradually helps prevent any severe withdrawal symptoms from developing.
After you have tapered off from Klonopin, detox can last for another 5 to 7 days, after which your body will be clear of all traces of the drug.
What medications will I be given?
During the course of detox, you may be prescribed a few medications to help ease any withdrawal symptoms. You do not have to take all of these medications. It depends on what symptoms you have.
Here are some of the medications commonly used in Klonopin detox.
These are helpful in managing depression and suicidal thoughts. Popular antidepressants used to help with withdrawal from Klonopin are paroxetine (Paxil) and fluoxetine (Prozac). These belong to a class of antidepressants called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors or SSRIs.
This is an antihypertensive. In other words, it is mainly used to treat high blood pressure. But it is also useful in Klonopin detox to relieve symptoms like sweating, restlessness, and anxiety.
These help relieve seizures if they occur. Typical antidepressants prescribed for Klonopin detox are carbamazepine (Tegretol) and levetiracetam (Keppra). These are particularly helpful because withdrawal seizures may turn fatal if not treated immediately.
This medication is a beta blocker. It relieves high blood pressure, irregular heartbeats, and tremors.
This is another anticonvulsant, similar to levetiracetam and carbamazepine but with a distinct mode of action. It treats seizures by modifying levels of GABA in the brain. Research and clinical trials are still being done to find out its safety and effectiveness, though.
This is a hormone that induces sleep. It is commonly prescribed for people with sleep problems, and it can similarly help with insomnia if you get it during Klonopin detox. Additionally, melatonin also has the ability to reverse Klonopin tolerance.
Are medications necessary to treat withdrawal from Klonopin?
You do not need all the medications mentioned above when detoxing from Klonopin. You only need the ones appropriate for your withdrawal symptoms.
While it may be possible to detox successfully without using medications, it is highly unlikely that you will not develop any withdrawal symptoms. With these symptoms comes discomfort, which will not help you get clean from the drug. That is why medications are often prescribed — to make the detox process less painful and more manageable.
Are these medications safe?
If you take them as prescribed, the medications for Klonopin withdrawal are generally safe and effective. Follow your doctor’s orders strictly and the medications should work as intended. If you experience any unpleasant side effects, inform your doctor right away so he can adjust your medication. In medical detox, this is easy to do because doctors are always on standby to assist you 24/7.
Once your withdrawal symptoms have died down, your doctor will stop the medications. That way, dependence on Klonopin will not be replaced with dependence on another drug.
What happens after detox?
After your body is cleared of Klonopin, you will likely go through a number of behavioral therapies. These will address the emotional and mental aspects of withdrawal. Methods like cognitive behavioral therapy will be used to help you overcome compulsions to take Klonopin again.