The Effect Of Klonopin On The Brain

Klonopin AddictionKlonopin, or clonazepam, is a prescription sedative that helps people relax and reduce anxiety. Klonopin belongs to a family of medications called benzodiazepines. Benzodiazepines are part of an even larger medication family called sedatives, hypnotics and anxiolytics. Klonopin has been used in the acute treatment of seizures, muscle movement disorders and anxiety disorders, especially panic disorder. It is potent, starts working within an hour and treats symptoms over 90 percent of the time; those qualities make it a highly useful medication when appropriately taken. Unfortunately, those same factors that make it so effective also allow it to be frequently misused leading to Klonopin addiction.

You’re not alone if you’ve recently taken Klonopin. 1 in 20 Americans has used a benzodiazepine like Klonopin in the last month. Over two million Americans have used them in a medically unintended fashion. Klonopin can cause symptoms of physical and psychological dependence when used excessively. It can also cause sedation, overdose and even death. Addiction to Klonopin occurs when a person loses control over his or her drug usage. As they spend increasing amounts of time and resources thinking about the drug, using it or recovering from its effects.

Do you think you might be misusing Klonopin or a similar medication? If you or your loved ones believe that your Klonopin use has led to an addiction, Transformations Treatment Center can support you. Our evidence-based substance use disorder treatment program will help you effectively confront the destructive disease of addiction. Our program will help you overcome its consequences and the unhealthy patterns it fosters.

How Klonopin Works

Klonopin works by increasing the availability of a chemical messenger called GABA to your body’s nervous system. GABA helps slow down the transfer of stimulating messages from one nerve cell to the next. It is part of the natural way your body returns to a resting state after a “fight, flight or freeze” response. Anxiety stems in large part from an increased transfer of stimulating nerve cell messages in the brain. Klonopin inhibits this transfer, helping your body “take its foot off of the accelerator.” It sharply reduces the strength of the messages your brain communicates to your body about how anxious you should be.

It’s an effective process, but if you use a sedative like Klonopin long-term or in excess, your nervous system will become tolerant to its anxiety-reducing properties. Tolerance means that the same dosage of the sedative creates less slowdown effect on the nerve cells or, similarly, that it takes more of the drug to create the same effect. It is at that point that your body has become physically dependent on the drug.

Psychologically, Klonopin can produce euphoria; with continued use over time, your brain will remodel itself to try to create as much of this euphoria as is possible, “repurposing” its built-in machinery for thinking and planning behaviors to do so. At that point, you are highly vulnerable to addictive behavior, as your brain now views your addiction as a normal state and tries to keep the body in that state. Since there is no organ more powerful than the human brain at maintaining what it perceives to be normal, your addiction has fortified itself by hijacking your own brain’s immense power.

Overdose Potential

The same reduction in communication between nerve cells that Klonopin creates can also dangerously slow normal breathing patterns. Overdoses of Klonopin usually aren’t fatal if it is the only drug present. Unfortunately Klonopin is often taken with alcohol (which works in a similar way as Klonopin on the nerve cells), other sedatives or with opioid painkillers like Vicodin or OxyContin. In those instances, the probability of fatal overdose is considerably higher. In some cases, doctors in a hospital will use the medication flumazenil to quickly reverse the effects of Klonopin overdoses.

If you’ve become physically dependent on Klonopin, stopping it or reducing it abruptly leads to withdrawal symptoms. Your body’s natural abilities to reduce anxiety using GABA will be too compromised to quickly make up the chemical difference. Since that same GABA system also helps to control nerve cell activity, heart rate and blood pressure, Klonopin withdrawal is quite dangerous. Unlike the withdrawal from other substances, withdrawal from Klonopin can routinely lead to hallucinations, seizures and death if left untreated.

Spotting Problems with Klonopin Usage

Several clues can help you or your loved ones spot problematic usage of Klonopin. If it is obtained through prescription, then using it beyond the prescribed time or amount may indicate misuse. Like with all prescribed narcotics, non-prescribed usage is always problematic. In addition, other key indicators include:

  • Unsuccessful attempts to stop usage
  • Continued use despite negative consequences
  • Detachment or isolation from social groups
  • Legal or social problems stemming from use

Physical and psychological symptoms vary, but may include:

  • Uncontrolled anxiety
  • Rapid changes in mood
  • Sedation
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Unexplained seizures
  • Unexplained blood pressure swings
  • Insomnia

Treating Klonopin Addiction

Because of the potential dangers of withdrawal from Klonopin, treating addiction to it generally begins with medical detoxification. For severe withdrawal symptoms, in effect detoxification takes place in a hospital or rehabilitation facility. Physicians and health professionals monitor vital signs regularly for several days. They will prescribe a long-acting dose of a safe, supervised medication with chemically similar properties to Klonopin. Prescription is issued in decreasing amounts until the symptoms of withdrawal have subsided.

When you are addicted to Klonopin, you’re more likely to have success in recovering if you’ve addressed your other mental health needs. Doctors and mental health professionals can help you identify hidden anxiety disorders, depression or other mental health conditions. They can also help identify healthy ways to address these conditions. This step is critically important—not only to treat those conditions but to help ensure more effective addiction treatment.

For psychotherapy, the best option for addiction to Klonopin and to other sedatives is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a form of talk therapy that helps you change your behaviors. Teaching you critical information about your emotions, how they direct your thoughts and how those thoughts lead to your behaviors. In CBT, you will learn how to adapt your emotions and challenge the thought processes that haven’t been helpful to you. It is an important component of long-term recovery efforts. CBT, along with participation in a 12-step based program, has the most evidence for effectively reducing or eliminating problems associated with sedative use.

Don’t Suffer in Silence

At Transformations Treatment Center, we can help you recover from problems with Klonopin addiction. Our holistic care and treatment is based on the best scientific evidence available. Secondly, we specifically tailor our approach to your unique needs. Our goal is simple: to help you lead a healthy, substance-free life. Contact us today for more information on our certified staff of professionals and first-rate facilities.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Response and Updates for Clients, Families, and Referents Read More