Benzodiazepines are used as anticonvulsants, anxiolytics, hypnotics, and anesthetics.
Clonazepam, a long-acting benzo drug sold under the brand name Klonopin, is specifically used to control medical conditions including seizure disorders (including varied types of seizures) and panic disorder (panic attacks).
Clonazepam is available in two forms:
- an oral tablet taken by mouth, which can be held in your hand
- an orally disintegrating tablet or wafer which is stored in blister packs and rapidly dissolves on or beneath the tongue or buccal cavity without water.
In either form, clonazepam can be abused, though not without exposing individuals to a variety of short- and long-term health risks.
Health Risks & Long-Term Effects Of Clonazepam Wafer Abuse
A variety of warnings are included in clonazepam medication guides and drug information, many of which pertain to the drug’s potential for abuse and personal harm if misused.
Increased Risk Of Common & Serious Side Effects
Clonazepam may cause certain side effects even when used therapeutically. These risks naturally increase when the medication is misused.
Possible side effects include:
- problems with coordination
- poor thinking or memory
- increased saliva
- muscle or joint pain
- frequent urination
- blurred vision
- changes in sex drive or function
Seek medical advice or care if you experience any of the following serious side effects of clonazepam, which may be a sign of an allergic reaction or some other adverse reaction.
The following side effects may require emergency care:
- swelling of the eyes, face, lips, tongue, or throat
- swallowing or breathing problems
Risk Of Suicidal Thoughts Or Actions
While uncommon, clonazepam use or misuse may cause suicidal ideation or the sudden onset of suicidal thoughts and actions in some people.
This risk is especially high for young adults.
In high doses clonazepam is known to cause liver injury. It should be avoided or used with caution by those with liver disease.
Effects Related To Pregnancy & Breastfeeding
Clonazepam is not safe to use while pregnant and may harm the unborn baby.
The drug is also known to pass through breast milk, and women who are breastfeeding should avoid the medication or use formula until it is eliminated from their body.
Clonazepam should always be stored safely out of the reach of children.
Drug Interactions & Overdose
Using benzodiazepine drugs, including clonazepam, with opioid narcotics can trigger severe adverse effects, including profound sedation, respiratory depression, and death.
Similar risks exist regarding use of clonazepam in combination with other central nervous system depressants, including alcohol, barbiturates, antihistamines, muscle relaxants, anesthetics, and others.
Clonazepam can also trigger severe medical emergencies when taken alone in high quantities or more frequently than prescribed.
If you or someone around is having trouble breathing or experiencing some other adverse drug reaction, call your local poison control center or emergency medical services immediately and provide first aid as appropriate.
Despite the risks, benzodiazepines are often abused with alcohol, opioids (codeine, tramadol, oxycodone, etc.), and certain other substances in order to increase the euphoric effects they provide, or to moderate certain unwanted side effects.
Abusing clonazepam with these other substances not only increases a person’s risk of experiencing a medical emergency. It can also accelerate the development of psychological or physical dependence and drug addiction, and complicate the detox and recovery process.
Healthcare providers are advised to assess each patient’s risk for drug abuse, misuse, and addiction before prescribing clonazepam, and to reevaluate these risks during treatment.
Dependence & Addiction
While any use of benzodiazepines, including clonazepam orally disintegrating tablets, exposes patients to risks of abuse, misuse, and addiction, these risks are minimal when the medication is used only as prescribed.
However, if a person takes more clonazepam than they should, takes it more often, abuses it with other drugs, or for a longer period than prescribed, there is a higher risk not only of overdose or death, but of the development of physical dependence, withdrawal symptoms, and drug addiction.
Once dependence develops, suddenly discontinuing clonazepam can cause severe or even life-threatening withdrawal symptoms, including agitation, insomnia, anxiety, depression, detachment, seizures, and others.
Because of this, healthcare professionals strongly advise that those who have become dependent on clonazepam participate in a structured tapering program to safely minimize these withdrawal effects.
Benzodiazepine Addiction Treatment
Because clonazepam is so habit forming and so often abused with other addictive substances, those seeking help for clonazepam dependence and tapering may also benefit from counseling, peer support, and other proven Klonopin addiction treatment options.
These personalized treatment services take place after detox or tapering has concluded, and can be hosted in either an inpatient or outpatient setting depending on the situation.
Northeast Addition Editorial Team
©2023 Northeast Addition Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.