Klonopin or clonazepam is a benzodiazepine used in the treatment of seizures and anxiety disorder. It is also used for the treatment of the symptoms of alcohol withdrawal and insomnia. Although effective in the treatment of these conditions, the use of Klonopin over an extended period of time can lead to physical and emotional dependence on the drug.
Individuals may also develop a tolerance for clonazepam when the drug is used for a prolonged duration. Tolerance occurs when the body becomes accustomed to a drug and the prescribed dose no longer has the same effect; therefore, larger doses are needed, not only to produce the desired effect but to avoid withdrawal symptoms.
How Long Does Klonopin Stay in Your System?
Klonopin is rapidly absorbed after oral ingestion by various tissues in the body, including the brain. After ingestion, Klonopin is metabolized by the liver and excreted through the urine and feces. Klonopin is a slow-acting benzodiazepine and has a half-life of 30-40 hours. Due to this more gradual mode of action of clonazepam, its withdrawal symptoms have a later onset and last longer relative to benzodiazepines like alprazolam (Xanax).
Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
The symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal, in most cases, cause discomfort but are not life-threatening. However, in certain cases, the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal may involve seizures and psychotic episodes.
Some of the more common symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal include:
- Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms
Muscle cramps and stiffness
Anxiety and stress
Rapid heart rate
Blood pressure fluctuations
Reduced appetite and weight loss
Irritability and agitation
Derealization: alteration of perception such that things appear unreal
Depersonalization: a feeling of being outside one’s body
Tinnitus: ringing of the ears or hearing sounds that are not present
Paraesthesia: a tingling feeling in the extremities
Some of the less common but more severe symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal include:
- Psychotic symptoms including delusions
- Panic attacks
Klonopin Withdrawal Timeline
By virtue of being a long-acting benzodiazepine, the onset of withdrawal symptoms generally occurs between 2-7 days after abstinence from Klonopin use. The symptoms generally peak two weeks after discontinuation of Klonopin and last until four weeks. However, due to the longer half-life of Klonopin, these withdrawal symptoms may last until eight weeks. Some symptoms, including anxiety and depression, may persist beyond this acute withdrawal phase.
The early period lasting between 1-4 days after discontinuation of drug use is characterized by symptoms such as anxiety, insomnia, agitation, and restlessness. Clonazepam is used for treating symptoms of anxiety and insomnia and some have argued that during this early rebound phase, these symptoms tend to re-emerge. These rebound symptoms tend to be more severe relative to their levels before initiation of treatment with Klonopin.
The acute withdrawal generally occurs between 2-7 days and may last between 2-8 weeks. The symptoms experienced during this phase are due to the actual physical dependence on clonazepam. The symptoms observed during the rebound phase may be observed even after intake of Klonopin for a short duration and in the absence of physical dependence on the drug.
In most cases, the symptoms experienced during this phase cause significant discomfort but are not life-threatening. These include:
- Muscle cramps
- Severe sleep disturbances
- Difficulty concentrating
However, there are instances where Klonopin withdrawal can result in life-threatening symptoms such as seizures and psychotic behavior. Delirium and agitation present during a psychotic episode may lead to harm to others or suicidal ideation and behaviors.
Post-Acute Withdrawal Syndrome (PAWS)
Some symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal may persist until months after the acute withdrawal phase. This post-acute or protracted withdrawal phase consists of symptoms of anxiety, tinnitus, headache, dizziness, paraesthesia, and depression.
Factors Impacting Klonopin Withdrawal
One of the major factors influencing the severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms is the severity of dependence on clonazepam. This is determined by the frequency of administration of clonazepam, doses used and the duration of clonazepam use. In the case of Klonopin abuse, the drug may be used in combination with other substances such as alcohol and illicit drugs.
Such polysubstance use or the presence of a co-occurring psychiatric disorder like panic disorder may also result in more severe withdrawal symptoms. Physiological characteristics influenced by age, genetics, environmental factors and overall health can also affect the intensity of withdrawal symptoms.
How to Cope with Klonopin Withdrawal
The symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal, in most cases, cause discomfort but can be life-threatening in certain cases. Hence, it is advisable to enroll in a medical detox to help cope with the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal.
However, in the case of detoxing at home, the use of Klonopin should not be discontinued abruptly and the dose should be gradually tapered. A doctor may help set up a taper schedule and prescribe medications for withdrawal symptoms such as insomnia, nausea and muscle cramps. Exercising and practicing relaxation techniques like yoga and meditation can help cope with the withdrawal symptoms. Drinking plenty of water and adhering to a healthy diet.
Detoxing Off Klonopin
It is advisable to undergo detoxification from Klonopin at an inpatient detox rather than at home due to the potentially life-threatening symptoms. Treatment at a medical detox provides round-the-clock medical supervision in a safe and supportive environment. In most cases, the dose of benzodiazepine is tapered off gradually in predetermined increments to reduce the severity of withdrawal symptoms. This involves following a taper schedule that is tailored according to the needs of each individual and taking into consideration factors such as the condition for which Klonopin was used, the individual’s stress levels and their personality.
The taper schedule may be modified if the withdrawal symptoms are unmanageable. Treatment at a detox may involve the use of medications for specific withdrawal symptoms that may persist after the taper as well as psychotherapy to address any psychiatric symptoms. Detoxification, if undertaken at an outpatient detox or with the help of a physician, may involve a much slower taper of the drug dose to avoid severe withdrawal symptoms.
When to Find Help: Klonopin Rehab in Florida
The development of physical dependence on clonazepam involves an inability to function without using the medication. An inability to quit the use of the drug beyond the period prescribed or use of higher than prescribed doses of Klonopin may indicate that treatment for Klonopin dependence is necessary. The first step in the treatment of Klonopin dependence is to cope with the withdrawal symptoms due to abstinence. The dose of Klonopin must be gradually tapered and detoxification must be preferably undertaken at an inpatient detox.
Detoxification may also be undertaken at an outpatient detox or with the help of guidance from a physician. Detoxification only involves the elimination of Klonopin from the body but does not address the issues underlying the dependence on the drug. Detoxification must be followed by treatment at a rehab for Klonopin addiction. Treatment at a rehab involves psychosocial interventions to address issues underlying the drug use and teaching individuals coping skills to maintain sobriety. Here is a list of drug detox and rehabilitation centers for benzodiazepine addiction in Florida.
If you or a loved one are addicted to benzodiazepines like Klonopin, The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health can help. The Recovery Village Palm Beach at Baptist Health provides quality care and treatment for substance use disorders delivered by experienced and accredited medical professionals. Call us today to explore treatment options and get the help you deserve.
Onyett, Steve R. “The benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome and its management.” JR Coll Gen Pract, April 1989. Accessed September 19, 2019.
Government of South Australia. “Benzodiazepine withdrawal management.” 2012. Accessed September 19, 2019.
World Health Organization. “Clinical Guidelines for Withdrawal Management and Treatment of Drug Dependence in Closed Settings .“ 2009. Accessed September 19, 2019.
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