Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms, Timeline & Detox Treatment Options
Klonopin is a brand name for clonazepam, a prescription drug used to treat symptoms of panic disorder and seizures. This medication offers benefits to those with a prescription, but since it is a potent benzodiazepine, it also carries a high risk of abuse. Patients often become dependent rapidly and unintentionally.
When individuals take Klonopin for a few weeks, they can begin to develop a psychological and physical dependence — and when taken for months or years, this dependence often leads to significant Klonopin withdrawal symptoms. Because of these withdrawal symptoms, individuals continue to use Klonopin, even when they no longer need it. This cycle can be overwhelming, especially when you have an underlying mental health condition.
In the United States, benzodiazepine use is high, with around 12.5% of Americans taking medications in this drug class. Whether intentional or not, misuse is high among benzodiazepine users, with nearly 12% of misusers taking drugs like Klonopin to get high.
Since Klonopin is often prescribed to target symptoms of anxiety, when you stop taking this medication, the symptoms associated with your anxiety disorder often resurface. These symptoms are known as rebound symptoms and can seem more severe than initial ones. For this reason, seeking ongoing support is crucial. Once you complete the Klonopin withdrawal process, having access to the support you need to can help you significantly reduce your risk of relapse.
What Are the Symptoms of Klonopin Withdrawal?
When users experience Klonopin withdrawal or any withdrawal symptoms associated with benzodiazepine use, the effects are similar to those associated with alcohol withdrawal. Users often feel flu-ish, irritated, and on edge.
Abrupt discontinuation is highly discouraged, especially if you take Klonopin long-term. During the Klonopin withdrawal process, you can expect some or all of the following withdrawal symptoms.
In select cases, users will have seizures. This symptom is associated with all benzodiazepines, whether they have a short, medium, or long half-life. Those who have seizures usually have been taking Klonopin or other benzodiazepines for more extended periods or at high doses. However, seizures have also been reported among those who have taken benzodiazepines for less than 15 days at therapeutic doses — seizures related to withdrawal range from a single episode to coma and death.
This potential complication is one example of why completing the Klonopin withdrawal process in a controlled, supervised environment is so important. If you also misuse alcohol, withdrawal symptoms can be even more dangerous.
Many of the symptoms above will vary in severity depending on several factors, including your mental health. For example, if you were diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, select symptoms may be more intense. These symptoms will require both immediate and ongoing support.
The above symptoms are acute withdrawal symptoms, lasting days or weeks. However, another set of symptoms can last much longer — otherwise known as post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
Common symptoms of PAWS include:
- Poor mood
- Increased anxiety
- Reduced ability to handle stress
- Sleep issues
This long-lasting syndrome is believed to develop following changes in the brain. Long-term drug use can alter your brain and chemical levels. PAWS is most common among recovering benzodiazepine, alcohol, and opioid users. Among benzodiazepine users, including those taking Klonopin, PAWS can last for months and, in some cases, years. Symptoms will fluctuate, often disappearing only to resurface.
Klonopin withdrawal is a complex process and is often a starting point. The healing process will be highly individualized, often requiring specialized treatment.
What Causes Klonopin Withdrawal?
Regardless of what substance you misuse, withdrawal symptoms typically develop because you build up a tolerance. As you take more and more of a substance to achieve the same effect, your body and mind adjust — they expect to receive it. Since Klonopin is a prescription medication, many users misjudge the potential risks, thinking it is safe. As you begin to take more and more Klonopin, you increase your risk of dependence.
Although patients prescribed Klonopin can become dependent in as little as a few weeks, many misusers do not have a prescription. They seek this drug from friends or relatives. Data shows that among those who misuse benzodiazepines, only 20% receive them from a doctor. Most misusers get their benzodiazepines from friends and relatives or buying them off the street. In these cases, it’s not uncommon for users to be polydrug users. Since these individuals use multiple drugs, this complicates the withdrawal process.
While focusing on Klonopin’s effect on your brain, it’s critical to highlight this drug’s connection to GABA — the brain chemical that produces a calming effect. Klonopin’s mechanism of action is complex, involving GABA-A receptors and several subunits and binding sites.
Over time, your brain can change physiologically. Even though benzodiazepines have been around since the 1960s, it is only within the last decade or so that researchers have established that benzodiazepines cause addiction in a similar way to cannabinoids, opioids, and the club drug GHB. The goal is to design anti-anxiety drugs that are not addictive. Like other addictive substances, Klonopin causes a surge in dopamine, altering dopamine-producing cells over time. These changes can cause long-lasting changes in the brain’s reward system.
The combination of physical dependence and physiological changes in the brain can make it very challenging to overcome Klonopin addiction without professional support.
If you are a polydrug user, Klonopin withdrawal syndrome will become more complex — and potentially dangerous. Research shows that if you abuse other sedatives or alcohol, this can increase your risk of Klonopin dependence. This combination increases your risk of overdose when you’re using, and when you begin the withdrawal period, it also increases your risk of seizures.
How Long Does Klonopin Withdrawal Take?
Short and long-acting benzodiazepines differ concerning the withdrawal process timeline. When taking short-acting benzodiazepines, like alprazolam, you can expect symptoms to develop rapidly (1-2 days) and often be more intense, but do not last as long (2-4 weeks). Long-acting benzodiazepines, including Klonopin, lead to withdrawal symptoms within 2-7 days following your last dose, with symptoms lasting an average of 2-8 weeks. For some, the initial Klonopin withdrawal period is even longer.
This lengthy period is because Klonopin has a long half-life of 30-40 hours. Based on this timeline, it will take one or two days for just 50% of the Klonopin in your body to leave your system. However, some research suggests that Klonopin’s half-life can be between 20 and 80 hours. Knowing this elimination rate is vital during the Klonopin withdrawal process, particularly when you’re following a tapering plan. This rate will determine the necessary doses to minimize rebound anxiety and withdrawal effects.
If you take Klonopin for an extended period, you can expect to experience withdrawal symptoms for weeks following your last dose. The severity of these symptoms will depend on several factors, including the level of support you receive throughout the withdrawal period. To ensure the highest comfort and safety levels, working with an expert healthcare team is vital. Depending on your medical history, you may require additional support, including medications to help mitigate risk.
This level of support is particularly helpful when experiencing symptoms of PAWS. As discussed, these symptoms can be long-lasting. It is not uncommon for benzodiazepine users to experience PAWS symptoms for months or years after taking their last dose. Your mental health can significantly influence this timeline, which is why you need to seek ongoing support to address symptoms of anxiety, depression, etc.
When you have access to holistic treatment, you will access therapy options that help you develop healthier coping skills.
How to Safely Manage Klonopin Detox
A tapering plan is crucial for your comfort and safety when detoxing from Klonopin. When you gradually reduce your dose, this can help lessen the severity of Klonopin withdrawal symptoms. To begin, you must seek an individualized assessment. The Klonopin withdrawal process is highly individualized, with many variables to consider. No two individuals are identical, which means their detox and treatment plan should be unique.
For example, why you began using Klonopin matters. Were you prescribed Klonopin and became dependent? Do you now want to stop using this medication but feel overwhelmed by the withdrawal symptoms? This scenario is fairly common, and there is no shame in seeking help. Klonopin carries a high risk of abuse, and many individuals become dependent unintentionally. If you are living with a mental health condition that required a Klonopin prescription but are now seeking an alternative, a professional care team can help you reach your goal.
One study observed 73 patients diagnosed with panic disorder. These patients had not experienced symptoms for at least one year and took Klonopin for at least three years. These patients did not want to take Klonopin any longer, so the researchers developed a four-month tapering plan. The researchers followed up for eight months. Among the 73 patients, 68.9% of patients were free from Klonopin within four months — 26% required an additional three months. Klonopin withdrawal symptoms did develop, even when provided with a tapering plan. These mild symptoms included anxiety, insomnia, tremors, muscle aches, sweating, and nausea. Without implementing a tapering plan, these symptoms would have likely been more severe.
A gradual tapering schedule is critical when reducing the severity of withdrawal effects. This approach is also vital when your safety is the highest priority. The FDA warns that abrupt withdrawal of Klonopin can lead to seizures. When a professional clinical team supervises you, they will monitor your symptoms. Some individuals may require the simultaneous substitution of another anticonvulsant. If you have a history of seizures, this is something your healthcare team needs to be aware of.
Some other medications are available for Klonopin withdrawal, depending on your needs. However, Klonopin withdrawal management alone is not typically sufficient to maintain abstinence. For this reason, a holistic treatment plan is often required, focusing on the importance of structured support. For example, psychotherapy is an effective option for both substance use disorder and a wide range of mental health conditions — especially anxiety and panic disorders.
When seeking treatment, choose a facility that offers a spectrum of evidence-based treatment options. This will allow you to benefit from an individualized treatment plan that best suits your ongoing needs.
When to Contact a Medical Professional
If Klonopin withdrawal symptoms are hindering your ability to overcome your dependence on this drug, know that you’re not alone.
The initial withdrawal period can be overwhelming, but you can quickly overcome this period with the right support, allowing you to focus on long-term recovery. Remember, the Klonopin withdrawal process is the first step toward a more fulfilling future. You need to overcome this initial step to work toward your current and future goals. With the help of a professional substance abuse and mental health facility, you can break free from the vicious cycle you’re currently trapped in.
If you are concerned about an underlying mental health condition, know that Klonopin is not the only option. There are plenty of strategies that do not involve medication, many of which have high success rates. The goal is to find the right combination for you.
If you’re ready to take the next step, help is available. Contact a professional treatment facility like Zinnia Healing to get started today.