Is Clonazepam An Opioid Or Opiate?

Clonazepam is not an opioid or an opiate. It is classified as a benzodiazepine. These drugs do slow down the central nervous system but use different pathways.

Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin) is neither an opioid or opiate.

In fact, clonazepam is a benzodiazepine prescription drug that helps to treat symptoms of anxiety such as panic attacks caused by anxiety disorders. Clonazepam also helps treat seizure disorders and acts as an anticonvulsant.

Sometimes referred to as “benzos,” benzodiazepines such as clonazepam are considered schedule IV controlled substances according to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). This means clonazepam has a potential for abuse.

Is Clonazepam A Narcotic?

Narcotics only include natural opioid pain medications. Therefore, clonazepam is not a narcotic. However, it can be heavily abused and combined with opioids which can lead to a life-threatening overdose.

Clonazepam & CNS Depressants

Clonazepam works by increasing the activity of the neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the brain. The medication binds to receptors and depresses the central nervous system (CNS).

Because Clonazepam is a CNS depressant, it should not be combined with other drugs that also depress the CNS as this can increase sedation and cause potential falls, accidents, or overdoses. This includes opiates, opioids, and alcohol.

Clonazepam Side Effects

Clonazepam has abuse potential due to the side effects it causes such as euphoria. However, clonazepam has a number of other side effects as well.

Common Side Effects

Some of the short-term, more common side effects of clonazepam can include:

  • sedation
  • unsteadiness
  • drowsiness
  • frequent urination
  • dizziness
  • increased saliva
  • muscle pain
  • blurred vision
  • sleepiness

Serious Side Effects

Any of the above side effects can become life-threatening when clonazepam is abused or combined with other drugs. Serious side effects can take place when clonazepam is taken in high doses.

These side effects may consist of:

  • respiratory depression
  • overdose
  • severe withdrawal symptoms
  • difficulty swallowing
  • increased heart rate
  • memory impairment
  • irritability
  • changes in mood

Withdrawal Symptoms

Abusing clonazepam or taking the drug for long-term use can result in a person developing a tolerance to the drug. When this occurs due to repeated use, a physical dependence may have developed.

If withdrawal symptoms are present, a person may exhibit:

  • tremors
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleep problems
  • memory problems
  • anxiety
  • seizures
  • depression
  • thoughts of suicide

Dangers Of Mixing Clonazepam & Opioids

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, when benzodiazepines and opioids are combined, there is an increased risk of an overdose.

Unfortunately, a number of prescription narcotics are opioids, causing medications to overlap if surgery is needed and medications such as oxycodone (Oxycontin) are required for pain management.

Drug Interactions

Always speak to your healthcare provider to determine which medications are safe for you to take. A number of drug interactions may occur when clonazepam is combined with other legal or illicit drugs.

For instance, those taking Klonopin should contact their doctor before taking:

  • opioids such as fentanyl, codeine, tramadol, hydromorphone, and methadone
  • CNS depressants such as alcohol
  • other benzodiazepines such as alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan)
  • vitamins or supplements
  • herbal products such as St. John’s wort
  • certain antidepressants such as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs)

Taking any of these medications with clonazepam can increase adverse effects of the medication.


Those who abuse clonazepam increase their risk of an overdose. When opioids are involved, however, an overdose may occur quickly.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), when benzodiazepines are combined with opioids, there is an increased risk of an emergency room visit and even an overdose.

Some of the symptoms of an overdose may include:

  • severe sedation
  • confusion
  • impaired coordination
  • coma
  • possible death

In addition to these symptoms, a person may also experience diminished reflexes and confusion during an overdose, according to the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Harmful Effects

If you discover you are pregnant and you take clonazepam, contact your doctor right away. For women who are pregnant and breastfeeding, this drug can potentially be transferred from breast milk to the child, which can cause a number of health issues including a risk of overdose.

Those suffering from glaucoma and other medical conditions such as kidney or liver disease, should avoid clonazepam as well.

Before taking clonazepam, discuss with your doctor any current medications you take as well as any disease you may currently have or have had in the past, such as lung disease.

Polydrug Abuse Treatment

If you or a loved one struggles with benzodiazepine abuse or opioid abuse, addiction treatment options like medical detox, behavioral therapy, and group therapy are available.

At Northeast Addictions Treatment Center, our healthcare professionals and clinicians assist with your recovery on an outpatient basis. To learn how we can help you build a lasting community of support, please contact us today.

Written by
Northeast Addition Editorial Team

Published on

©2024 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved

This page does not provide medical advice.

Ready to make a change? Talk to a specialist now.