Last reviewed by Miljan Krcobic on August 27th, 2018.
What is Klonopin?
Klonopin is a Brand name for an anxiolytic prescription medication that contains benzodiazepine drug clonazepam as an active ingredient. Clonazepam is used as anti-seizure medicine in adults and children. It also affects neurotransmitters in the brain that may be unbalanced in patients with anxiety disorders.
This medicine comes in the forms of a tablet and disintegrating (dissolving) tablet to be taken by mouth. Klonopin is available in doses of 0.5 mg, 1 mg and 2 mg. Klonopin is most commonly prescribed as an antiepileptic drug in the treatment of the Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (epileptic petit mal variant), akinetic and myoclonic seizures and for the treatment of panic disorders including agoraphobia.
FDA first approved clonazepam in 1975 under the brand name Klonopin, which was originally manufactured by Roche Drug Company. Many manufacturers now produce generic clonazepam. In many parts of the world it is commonly used as a recreational drug.
What is Klonopin used for?
FDA approved, label indications, for Klonopin are:
- Akinetic seizures
- Burning Mouth Syndrome
- Essential Tremor
- Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome (LGS)
- Mixed manic depressive episode
- Panic Disorders
- Rapid Eye Movement Sleep Disorder
- Restless Legs Syndrome (RLS)
- Tardive Dyskinesia
- Tourette’s Syndrome
- Acute Manic episode
- Myoclonic seizures
- Refractory absence Seizures
How Klonopin works in the body?
Clonazepam which is the active ingredient of Klonopin, works by causing allosteric interactions between benzodiazepine receptors and GABA – gamma-aminobutyric acid receptors in the CNS, increasing the effects of neurotransmitter – GABA, which is the major inhibitory neurotransmitter in the CNS. Final results are increased inhibition of the ascending reticular activating system.
Can Klonopin makes you ‘’high’’?
Klonopin is often used in nonmedical purposes and sold illegally. The DEA considers all benzodiazepines drugs including clonazepam from Klonopin to be Schedule IV drugs, meaning they are safe with a prescription and medical oversight. Thus, these drugs are not as closely monitored as prescription opioid drugs, which are Schedule II.
Although it is prescription medicine, Klonopin is considered as top-ten most addictive and abusive sleeping aid. The reason for that is because Klonopin can produce a euphoric effects and high but also drowsy calmness sense that can be very pleasant and thus abusive. When you take Klonopin, your brain becomes depressed and this causes a short, but euphoric “high”.
All benzodiazepines are known to have a high risk of dependence, tolerance and addiction thus the general recommendations is that these drugs should never be used for a long-term. Clonazepam is among the most abusive and addicted benzodiazepines drugs and the major reason for that is its rapid onset of action and a long elimination half-life time.
This drug has fast absorption and passes through the brain in an hour, whereas it can stay in the body for close to 3 days, depending on the used dose, frequency of use and different individual factors. Because it’s effects start quickly, the body will speedily develop a tolerance and dependence on this drug.
Thus, Klonopin and other clonazepam products are labeled to be prescribed only for no more than 2 weeks, considering that longer treatment will probably cause addiction and withdrawal.
Where abusers get Klonopin?
On the streets, Klonopin is known by a number of slang terms such as: Kpin, Pin, Klons, Benzos, Tranks. The Internet becomes very easy place to get clonazepam/Klonopin without a prescription. Illicit online suppliers sell generic forms of this drug most commonly to young users in search of a suitable source of recreational drugs. Klonopin is also sold through underground sources at parties, clubs or raves.
Benzodiazepines drugs such as: Ativan (lorazepam), Xanax (alprazolam), Valium (diazepam), but also Klonopin (clonazepam) are frequently prescribed and can be found in many households. Abusers often get Klonopin from a family member or friend having legitimate prescription.
Family members may be the most common source of drugs including Klonopin. A parent, without attending, might share prescription drugs without considering the potential for dangerous side effects and drug interactions.
Between 1999 and 2010, the number of benzodiazepines prescription enlarged 4 times. Adults between the ages of 18 – 64 were the major population and thousands of them got struggle to addiction or dependence due to a prescription for these medications.
The larger number of prescriptions is the drugs are often the target of abuse since they are easy to find. Even though, Klonopin is very efficient medicine that helped many patients, outside of a prescription, it can be very harmful for those who use it for non-medical reasons.
Klonopin ‘’high’’ experience
Abusers often ground up and snort Klonopin talbets, or inject them after dissolving. This way of use enhances the tranquilizing effects of other drugs and makes more stimulants high. Recreational users often combine Klonopin together with other drugs, such as narcotics, alcohol, tranquilizers or hallucinogenics.
Taking benzodiazepines with depressants like alcohol can slow down the activity of your brain to a very dangerous rate, increasing the risk of unconsciousness, coma or death. Taking Klonopin with alcohol or other drugs can increase the risk of an overdose and death.
Here are some Klonopin ‘’high’’ experience described on Erowid website (https://erowid.org/):
“…I took six 1 mg clonazepam tablets at 7:51pm. I also take 50 mg zoloft every day but my m.d. said these two won’t interact with each other. At 8:11pm starting to have a bit more difficult time typing and concentrating. I’m getting thirsty. My head feels swimmy, and colors look a bit brighter… At 8:31pm I feel a simple, basic connectedness to the things around me and take even more pleasure in the small things than I usually do, like the smell of my apple-cinnamon bathroom air-freshener even… At 8:45pm The euphoria is beginning. I feel like my apartment is the physical embodiment of all the beauty in my life and I get to walk around it and be immersed in the peace that is really inside me… I really want to sink into the cloud of my bed that makes me feel so comfortable and so safe on nights like these. It should be interesting to coordinate my movements, we’ll see how it goes. I’ll get back to you in a little bit. Well, when the tv fell on my foot instead of cursing like I normally would, I laughed really loud. I’m gonna up the ante a little bit and take 4 more 1 mg pills. I can definitely feel the effects of the other 4 mg. The euphoria is more intense, but the drowsiness isn’t really drowsiness, just the imminent need to cuddle up in my bed with happy thoughts. However, if I should drift into sleep, it would be peaceful and full of dreams I am sure (clonazepam does that to me). Colors are brighter and sound prettier, a slight ‘body high’ where all of my being feels wrapped in a warm blanket that nuzzles and comforts me. It is at once a physical and emotional feeling. I’m gonna go relax now that I have my t.v. hooked up (however ghetto like of a hook-up it is). One more thing, I talked on the telephone to my friend a minute ago, and it was very genial but I was having a hard time communicating cuz she kept saying, ‘What?? I can’t understand you?’ And I couldn’t really understand her either. Nonetheless it was friendly. Winding down, drowsiness is starting to overcome me, I’m heading for bed and I’m sure these relaxed effects will continue well into tomorrow after I wake up. The thing about clonazepam is that the drowsiness doesn’t hit until the end of the night. It will probably take me another hour or two to fall asleep but I am definitely not capable of typing any more. “
Withdrawal symptoms of Klonopin will be manifested if drug is taken during long-term period and then suddenly abrupt. According this period for Klonopin and similar benzodiazepines drugs is only 2 weeks. The severity and duration of Klonopin withdrawal symptoms depends on how much and how often Klonopin is taken and by individual factors such as your height, sex, weight, age, general health.
Klonopin withdrawal symptoms are similar to the ones for alcoholism and barbiturates. Symptoms may include: seizures, anxiety, delirium, agitation, restlessness, psychosis, sweating, uncontrollable shaking, moodiness, behavioral changes, vomiting, tremor, rashes, stomach and muscle cramps, hallucinations, heart palpitations, loss of appetite, diarrhea or constipation, dry mouth, depression, hysteria and insomnia.
These symptoms may vary from person to person and some find it relatively easy to withdraw. Withdrawal syndrome usually begins 24 – 72 hours after the last dose is taken.
Symptoms seem to be more severe between 5th and 7th day. Most people need 2 weeks to achieve chemical detoxification from benzodiazepines. Some people have withdrawal symptoms for months. According to this, Klonopin withdrawal is considered as hard, if you know that heroin’s withdrawal lasts for about 3 days.
Klonopin use should never be abruptly discontinued, no matter the drug is used for medical or non-medical purpose. Klonopin discontinuation should be always followed and monitor by health professional with adequate dose reduction and tapering.
The ideal method to withdraw from Klonopin is to enter a residential treatment center and undergo detoxification with medical supervision. Some of the drugs used to help people in withdrawal are buspirone, anti-seizure drugs and antidepressants.
Signs and symptoms of a Klonopin overdose may include:
- Paradoxical excitation (e.g., hyperactivity, aggression, etc.)
- Profoundly altered mental status.
- Memory loss
- Markedly slurred speech
- Loss of consciousness
Overdose after Klonopin use is more likely to occur when this drug is taken together with alcohol or other drugs. Many patients overdose this drug when they mix it with alcohol or opioids such as morphine or heroine. If Klonopin is taken together with alcohol, serious interactions may occur resulting in a decrease in motor and mental function.
This interaction can also significantly slow the respiratory system leading to slowed breathing, confusion and loss of consciousness. It can also be dangerous to combine Klonopin with clozapine in some situations, as well as opioids and other drugs. Combining Klonopin with opioids or other CNS depressants may cause following side effects:
- Slowed or labored breathing and respiratory arrest.
- Profound dizziness/lightheadedness.
- Extreme sleepiness.
- Loss of consciousness/unresponsiveness
When overdosed patient get to emergency room, doctors and nurses will provide supportive care and adequate monitoring to ensure that they are safe. Flumazenil is proved to be good antidote which can be administered in the hospital to neutralize the effects of an acute benzodiazepine overdose. Although this this drug also carries some risks, it is highly effective at treating an overdose.
Depending on how overdosed person recovers, he/she may stay in the emergency room until they are stabilized. In the case of intentional overdose, they will surely undergo a psychiatric evaluation before leaving the hospital. If significant respiratory depression or coma is caused as a result of overdose, patients will be referred to the intensive care unit for further care
According to medical reports, Klonopin is involved in a high percentage of drug-related episodes of overdose. For example, just in 2004, there were approximately 1.3 million emergency room cases linked to drugs overdose, of which about 40% of them were involved with nonmedical use of prescription drugs.
30% or 144,385 visits in 2004 were caused after benzodiazepines overdose, and almost 20% of the benzodiazepine patients which is about 26,238 patients were Klonopin overdoses. The vast majority of people overdosing on benzodiazepines used for nonmedical reasons are combining it with alcohol, narcotics, opiates, or other prescription drugs.
What are the signs that someone is addicted to Klonopin?
Those whose answer is ‘’yes’’ for one or more following question they can find themselves addicted to Klonopin and should seek for medical attention:
- Are you taking Klonopin without a doctor’s prescription?
- Do you need increased doses Klonopin in order to make it work for you?
- Are you taking more than 4 mg of Klonopin a day?
- Did you try to stop using Klonopin and it showed unsuccessful?
- Do you exhibit withdrawal symptoms including anxiety and depression, when you stop taking Klonopin?
- Do you have physical issues, such as sleep problems or dizziness after Klonopin discontinuation?
- Is your life more difficult and stressful without Klonopin?
- Do you mix Klonopin with other drugs or alcohol?
- Does your family criticize you because of your drug abuse?
- Do your loved ones think you have become more distant and moody since you began using Klonopin?
- Do you worry that you may face consequences for breaking the law because you use Klonopin?
- Can you take more than 2 days without Klonopin?
- Do you feel ashamed, guilty or embarrassed because you abuse Klonopin? Are you afraid to talk about it with a doctor?
Klonopin drug-addiction treatment
Klonopin addiction and Klonopin physical dependency is not the same thing. Patients who were using Klonopin for medical purposes and with prescriptions, in appropriate amounts and as recommended by the doctor will need to go through withdrawal symptoms and may for certain built up a tolerance to the drug, but this does not have to be that patients is necessarily addicted.
Addiction has psychological nature and occurs when the drug use motivates its continuing. The addict has no choice but to keep using Klonopin. Many health professionals suggest that addiction is also a behavioral disorder, and that genetics may play important role in its development.
Many drug abusers take drug to self-medicate emotional pain. In order to achieve life free of drugs, they must learn to understand their pain, and to deal with with it and everyday life without using any drug. The majority of Klonopin abusers and addicts actually have undiagnosed ahealth issues such as clinical depression, personality disorders, unresolved childhood traumas, etc.
In order to find best way to help such cases to let go of addiction, these patients undergo a complete physical and psychological examination for determination. If some psychiatric disorder is diagnosed, such disorders need to be treated along with addiction they will be much more likely to go back into drug abuse after addiction treatment.
The first line of addiction treatment is intense counseling. Those who enter residential center will have their own counselor to help them understand themselves. These professionals can help you understand the primary cause of addiction, how to manage desires, and how to achieve abstinence on a long-term basis. Life changes will be necessarily.
Most residential treatment centers offer parties, sports, sight-seeing and other recreational activities. These treatment programs are usually fun, and addicts are also learning how to relax and enjoy life without drugs. Once addicts return home, they will probably continue in individual counseling and support meetings within their community.
How long Klonopin stay in your system?
It is necessary to consider the elimination half-life time of clonazepam in order to determine how long Klonopin will remain in your body after final dose is taken. Clonazepam has a long elimination half-life estimated beneath the range of 30 to 40 hours. According to this it will take about 1 to 2 days to eliminate the half of the taken dose from the body.
Rendering its long elimination half-life it can be estimated that Klonopin is likely to stay in your system for about 7-9 days after the final dose is taken. But, different sources suggest that clonazepam may have even a wider half-life range between 18.7 hours to 60 hours. If this is the case, it could take between 4-14 days for complete elimination of Klonopin.
Moreover, it is essential to bear in mind that clonazepam is metabolized within the liver into a metabolite known as 7-aminoclonazepam. The elimination half-life of 7-aminoclonazepam is either shorter than, or similar to that of clonazepam. According to all of this, the time needed for fully elimination of clonazepam and its metabolite 7-aminoclonazepam can be expected after 2 weeks of discontinuation.
Different factors may influence how long clonazepam will stay in your system. These factors include: age, body mass, percentage of fats, genetics, metabolic rate, liver function, co-administration of food or drugs, urinary pH, dosage and frequency of use.
Does Klonopin shows up on drug tests: urine, blood, saliva, hair?
Klonopin belong to the class of benzodiazepines drugs which are detectable on routine urine drug tests. The urine drug test that will detect Klonopin is the Xanax Drug Test / Valium Drug Test. These tests give result for all benzodiazepine family drugs including: alprazolam (Xanax), clonazepam (Klonopin), diazepam (Valium), lorazepam (Ativan), and more. Except urine tests, Klonopin can be also detected in blood, saliva and hair.
About 2% of a clonazepam taken dose is excreted unchanged with urine. Because of that, most urine analyses measure amounts of its metabolite 7-amino-clonazepam or shortly 7-ACLO. According to some data 7-ACLO metabolite stay detectable within urine for up to 5 days post-ingestion of a single dose.
But new findings suggest that 7-ACLO metabolite can be detected in urine for a much longer time, according to one study for more than 3-4 weeks. Higher dose and chronic users of Klonopin may have 7-ACLO positive tests for more than a month. Because of longer detetction-time period, urine tests are often more preferred than blood tests. Urine tests are also more convenient, they are non-invasive, and fast.
Klonopin can be easiest detected in blood after 1-2 hours of administration. Due to clonazepam’s long elimination half-life, it will probably stay detectable in blood some days after ingestion.
Moreover, clonazepam is highly lipophilic drug and it can be accumulated in fat tissues, so drug traces may appear in blood for longer durations. Since blood tests are invasive and have shorter time of detection than urine tests, they are often reserved for a hospitalized patient or in cases where a urine sample cannot be attained.
Only 7-ACLO metabolites of clonazepam can be detected in a saliva sample during 5 and 6 days after ingestion. In this test 0.4 ml of oral fluid is collected from the mouth and then diluted with 0.8 ml of a preservative. This mixture is then analyzed with liquid chromatography/mass spectrometry (LC/MS).
However, the ability to detect 7-ACLO metabolites is much lower compared to other forms of testing. Saliva tests are non-invasive; however their accuracy is suboptimal, because detection of clonazepam will be only available in the cases of overdose. Thus, saliva testing is usually used as an alternative to urine testing in cases of acute overdose or abuse.
It has been showed that hair tests are able to detect 7-ACLO metabolite after a period of 4 month of post-ingestion. The biggest disadvantage is that they can’t detect the drug if it is recently taken. Days or weeks of Klonopin post-ingestion are needed for the drug metabolites to appear in the hair.
This method is often used by law enforcement agents to detect clonazepam used in the case of a drug-related crime. Hair samples (15-20 follicles) are collected from a victim and then send to the lab analysis with gas chromatography/mass spectrometry (GC/MS).
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