Clonazepam Withdrawal and Detox
Clonazepam is a prescription tranquiliser used by physicians to treat seizures and panic attack disorders. Usually sold under the brand name Klonopin, this substance falls under the class of benzodiazepines (benzos), which are sedative drugs with highly addictive properties.
Addiction poses several harmful effects, and suddenly discontinuing usage can trigger uncomfortable psychological and physical withdrawal symptoms. Because of this, it is advisable to detox in a controlled environment with a qualified physician present.
What is Clonazepam Withdrawal?
As a benzodiazepine, clonazepam operates directly in the brain, influencing emotional reactions, cognition, memory, consciousness control, coordination and muscle tone. It enhances the function of gamma-Aminobutyric Acid (GABA), which is a neurotransmitter that relaxes the central nervous system (CNS) and produces calming effects when released in the brain.
Furthermore, clonazepam affects the levels of another neurotransmitter known as dopamine by blocking its receptors and preventing reuptake into the body. Dopamine is responsible for pleasurable sensations, so the longer it is present, the longer-lasting the effects of the drug.
People who want to keep feeling this way continue using clonazepam. Sometimes, they go beyond the doctor’s prescription. This kind of drug abuse lead to tolerance. This means the regular dosage doesn’t produce the initial effects, causing the user to increase their dosage. Continued abuse over a prolonged period results in dependence on the drug.
In effect, the brain adjusts its functions to benzodiazepines, so that it ceases to act normally when the drug is absent in the blood stream. If an abuser suddenly stops using clonazepam, the brain triggers uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms that force them to seek and use the drug. This is the main reason for the continuous cycle of abuse.
Withdrawal from clonazepam can be dangerous, and you are advised not to attempt quitting ‘cold turkey’. Since the body needs the drug to function normally, sudden discontinuation can induce intense seizures and shaking fits. The safest solution is to see a doctor who will help you taper the amount you use prior to detoxification.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
Causes of Clonazepam Withdrawal
Dependence is the major cause of withdrawal. Clonazepam regularly supresses certain areas of the brain and the CNS adapts to the chemical interactions induced by the drug. By re-balancing its chemistry, the brain can accommodate foreign chemicals and the body becomes accustomed to its constant presence. Without clonazepam in the bloodstream, a dependent person will feel sick.
To return to the brain-body balance as it was prior to clonazepam addiction, an abuser will need to first undergo a formal detox process. During detoxification, withdrawal symptoms will manifest until the brain attains homeostasis and the body is restored to its normal state of functioning without clonazepam.
Phases of Clonazepam Withdrawal
Clonazepam withdrawal usually occurs in three main phases:
- Early withdrawal
- Acute withdrawal
- Protracted withdrawal
The early withdrawal phase begins within a few hours of the last dose of the drug. This could be sooner or later, depending on the user’s level of addiction.
During early withdrawal, a person might experience anxiety and insomnia, as the brain rebounds without clonazepam. The symptoms the drug was originally used to suppress return in a rush. Tapering during medical detox is an effective way to dampen this effect.
A few days after quitting clonazepam, acute withdrawal follows. This phase comprises the bulk of withdrawal. Common symptoms include panic, insomnia, anxiety, tension, vomiting, diarrhoea and seizures. The symptoms can be severe, depending on the extent of the addiction. It is during acute withdrawal that specific medications can be used to treat certain symptoms.
The patient might entertain thoughts of self-harm and even suicide. Acute withdrawal can last anywhere from two weeks to three or four months.
After acute withdrawal comes the full-blown or protracted withdrawal (PAW) phase. This typically lasts from 10 to 14 days; however, long-term clonazepam abusers may experience PAW for a longer period. During this time, individuals will experience mental health disturbances such as general malaise, anxiety, cravings, depression and self-loathing.
Some somatic withdrawal symptoms may persist, like nausea, dizziness, headaches, light fevers, chills and so on. Individuals may also experience another bout of rebound anxiety at the end of this stage.
All three stages have the potential to develop complications, so it’s important to see a professional before undergoing withdrawal.
Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms: What to Expect
Treating any addiction is a complex and extremely individualised process that must be carried out by qualified physicians. Withdrawal symptoms from benzos like clonazepam can be harmful at times, so supervised medical detoxification is advised. During this period, your vital signs will be monitored whilst a doctor gradually weans you off the drug for your own safety and comfort.
Clonazepam withdrawal symptoms can last up to 90 days. However, the exact duration of withdrawal varies with each individual. Factors such as abuse history, quantity of dosage, duration of abuse, age, health status, body mass index and other physiological properties may affect the duration of recovery from withdrawal.
Like most addictive substances, clonazepam withdrawal symptoms occur in both physical and psychological forms. Since benzo addictions are mostly psychological, mental health disturbances are a common part of the acute withdrawal stage.
Physical withdrawal symptoms include:
- Blurred vision
- Poor motor coordination/muscle control
- Elevated heart rate (tachycardia)
- Profuse sweating
- Stomach aches
Psychological withdrawal symptoms include:
- Difficulty focusing
- Mental disorientation
- Mood changes
Clonazepam withdrawal can be difficult and unpleasant, but there are safe and reliable detox programmes with 24-hour quality medical attention.
Timeline of Clonazepam Withdrawal
Clonazepam is a drug with a long half-life of 20 to 50 hours. This essentially means that withdrawal will start between one to three days after your last dose. The intensity and length of clonazepam withdrawal depends on several factors, such as:
- The quantity of the drug normally ingested
- The duration of use (from when you first started abusing the drug)
- Method of administration (oral, snorting or injection)
- Whether it is combined with other substances such as alcohol or cocaine
- Your typical bodily functions (metabolism and psychological composition)
These factors make it difficult to be certain when withdrawal will begin, how serious it will be and for how long it will continue. Below is a general timeline of clonazepam withdrawal:
Days 1-3: The initial signs of withdrawal will manifest after 24 to 72 hours after the last dose. Symptoms may include anxiety and similar mood changes. Patients will also find it hard to sleep or get a good night’s rest.
Days 7-14: Withdrawal symptoms of clonazepam will start peaking one or two weeks after last being used. It’s typical to experience restlessness and general irritability to one’s surroundings. People attempting to quit ‘cold turkey’ may experience severe tremors, seizures or hallucinations.
Weeks 3-4: During this time, there will be some relief as withdrawal symptoms begin to fade, although it’s not uncommon for the patient to also feel anxiety at this stage too. Some days may feel harder than others, but by this time, the worst part of withdrawal is usually over.
Two Months +: Some patients – especially those with high level dependence – tend to feel mild withdrawal symptoms even two to three months after quitting clonazepam. If you have a severe addiction to the drug, there will be some noticeable symptoms. Tapering your usage before detox helps to prevent extended withdrawal symptoms.
What is Clonazepam Detoxification?
Detoxification alone is not considered treatment, but it is the first step towards treatment and recovery. Detox aims to expunge all traces of the drug and restore the body and brain to a state of homeostasis, without clonazepam.
The doctor usually starts by gradually tapering the patient with daily doses of clonazepam to minimise symptoms of withdrawal and avoid potential complications. For long-term users, safely tapering down from clonazepam can take as long as four to eight weeks or more.
Besides tapering, some physicians use medically-assisted forms of detoxification. Here, clonazepam-dependent patients check into a detox facility to undergo acute withdrawal. The process is supervised by experienced professionals who will be on call to attend to you 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
During this time, doctors may work with pharmacologists and addiction counsellors to ensure you undergo withdrawal as comfortably as possible.
Medications for clonazepam withdrawal include:
- Antidepressants to manage depression and thoughts of self-harm
- Melatonin to treat insomnia
- Anticonvulsants such as Carbamazepine or Tegretol to treat seizures
- Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRIs) such as Prozac and Paxil to treat accumulation of neurotransmitters in the brain
It’s worth noting that these drugs are not specifically made for clonazepam withdrawal, but are mainly used to treat the symptoms associated with most benzodiazepine drugs.
Clonazepam Detox Process
Medical detox ensures that trained professionals are always on standby to track your progress round-the-clock. This involves the use of medication to help alleviate the discomfort associated with withdrawal.
To begin, a physician will enquire about your clonazepam usage. You’ll be expected to tell them about the quantity you usually take, how long you’ve been using it, the last time you attempted detox and other relevant details.
If you combine the drug with other substances like alcohol, it’s important to share this information with the physician in case you’ve developed co-occurring disorders as well. The doctor may perform a sample screening test of your blood or urine to gauge how severe or intense withdrawal will be.
After determining the level of addiction, you’ll be put on a tapering formula. For clonazepam, doctors usually reduce the quantity administered by 25% to 30% in the first week, followed by 5% to 10% more for the following days/weeks, until final weaning.
During the acute stage, you’ll be given medication to manage the discomfort. If seizure complications occur, anticonvulsants like Tegretol or Carbamazepine are administered. Withdrawal often peaks by the second or third week, before the symptoms begin to abate. After this, rehabilitation therapy is the next stage of treatment and care.
While this is possible, we strongly discourage home detox because of the demanding nature of clonazepam withdrawal. For one, detox requires a controlled environment with specialised equipment and qualified medical attendants. Even if you can afford to hire a doctor to be on call 24/7, it’s hardly easy to transform a home into a safe detox environment.
Furthermore, access to the drug is relatively easy and there is a higher chance of relapse. Clonazepam withdrawal also comes with emotional and psychological issues; at home, distraught family members could actually enable their loved ones. Hospitals provide some form of restriction to avoid any distraction from other members of the family.
If you prefer a private treatment environment, some detox clinics do offer this service. Accommodation provides a tranquil, safe setting, like any home. Also, you’ll have access to medical professionals 24-hours a day. The chances of relapse are near zero and it’s almost impossible to have access to clonazepam pills whilst on the ward.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.
Medically Supervised Clonazepam Withdrawal Detox
There are various forms of treatment for clonazepam withdrawal. From traditional methods to holistic techniques, many rehab programmes feature their own unique treatment. A common traditional form of detox is the medically supervised method. Here, physicians use medicines to treat various complications that occur while the body purges itself of the drug.
It is important to share the details of your drug abuse history in case you have a co-occurrent disorder.
Many benzo users tend to mix their pills with alcohol to enhance its psychoactive effects. Being addicted to two substances simultaneously could extend your recovery period.
Doctors also need to be aware of the interaction between clonazepam and certain other medications, especially during withdrawal. If the patient has been mixing other prescription drugs, there’s a high chance that treating them with such medication can in turn substitute one addiction for another, only making things worse.
Treatment for Withdrawal
After detox, patients are referred to a rehabilitation centre for therapy and counselling. There, they learn how to overcome craving and beat relapse by changing their mental orientation towards the addictive substance. Some detox clinics are situated in a rehab facility, so moving is only a matter of changing rooms or physicians.
Inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation centres can help you beat clonazepam addiction.
The best rehab facilities have counsellors and physicians who are addiction treatment specialists. A combination of therapy and medically supervised detox will increase your chances of successful recovery.
It is particularly important to seek medical help with clonazepam detox if you have a polydrug dependence. This is because multiple drugs pose different withdrawal issues and need to be treated separately. For instance, professionals can diagnose between clonazepam and alcohol withdrawal and subsequently treat each one accordingly.
For clonazepam withdrawal, a doctor may administer antidepressants or other mood-stabilisers as treatment. They will also prepare a detox plan to guide you safely through withdrawal and sobriety.
Guided Clonazepam Therapy
After detox, you’ll be transitioned to rehabilitation for therapeutic treatment. Here, an addiction therapist will help you discover the underlying cause of your addiction. In doing this, they try to help you break away from the psychological dependence to clonazepam.
Therapy may involve one on one sessions, group counselling, family therapy and other methods, depending on the facility you choose. During this period, you will also be taught how to resist cravings and build strong support groups.
Common types of therapy for clonazepam dependence include:
- Behavioural therapy. This form of treatment is focused on achieving goals directly related to the patient’s current lifestyle. The therapist will work to identify certain behaviours that could be undesirable and potentially jeopardise their recovery. A behavioural therapist will use special interventionist techniques to handle unhealthy behaviour. These may include psycho-education and planning, relaxation training, assertiveness training and functional analysis.
- Contingency Management. This specialised treatment helps patients overcome their addiction by offering them tangible, valuable rewards for accomplishing desired behaviours. In this case, the desired behaviour is abstinence from clonazepam, and the reward is used to form new behaviours.
- Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). CBT – while using behavioural therapies as the foundation of its operations – also places importance on your thoughts and feelings. According to CBT, negative thought processes lead to undesirable feelings and behaviour. The interconnectedness between thoughts, behaviours and feelings forms the core of CBT. A therapist plays the role of coach and team-mate to study and understand the systems in place for the patient’s feelings, thoughts and behaviour. It’s the therapist’s job to look for cognitive distortions that encourage undesirable behaviours and correct them. The patient goes on to live with the assertion that they can overcome cravings by thinking positively.
Withdrawing from Clonazepam: Three Key Steps
There are several factors that can lead to an individual’s clonazepam abuse habit. While some people genuinely begin by using it as a prescription for anxiety, others simply abuse it to get ‘high’. Either way, the path of abuse leads to tolerance, and eventually dependence.
The main reason most people are afraid to quit is the fear of what the withdrawal process brings. However, though uncomfortable in some ways, it’s a lot more bearable when you get help from a professional. With modern facilities and advanced medication, you can go through withdrawal with little or no complications whatsoever.
Step 1: Break Away from Denial. Many current addicts are in denial of their abusive habit. Because clonazepam is a prescription drug, it’s easy to assume that you’re not abusing it. However, the moment you feel the need to increase your dosage without a doctor’s advice, you are in fact misusing it. For treatment to begin, it’s imperative to admit to yourself that you have a problem. It’s only when you do this that you can begin to change your life for the better.
Step 2: Educate Yourself. Sometimes, your lack of understanding about a drug can put you in a difficult situation. Therefore, educate yourself about clonazepam withdrawal and see that it isn’t as bad as some people make out. There are safe procedures and even with withdrawal symptoms, there are medications to help you. Being fully aware of them could ensure you’re better prepared for detoxification.
Step 3: Find the Best Rehab. The rehab centre you choose can determine the quality of treatment you receive. Withdrawal is just the first stage of the treatment and you’ll need a comfortable place to undergo therapy and work towards full recovery.
Live a Sober Life Again
Addiction is a disease that has the potential to ruin your life if you don’t treat it early enough. If you are abusing clonazepam, it can affect your work productivity, family and romantic relationships, as well as your health.
You’ll therefore be saving yourself from severe consequences by opting to live a sober life. Are you struggling to quit? Do you know somebody who is dependent on clonazepam or any other addictive drug? You can start by getting professional help today.
One of the challenges of post-rehab life is resisting the urge to use again. After leaving the secure environment of a rehab facility, the temptations you face can be overwhelming. It’s therefore advisable not to be alone or isolated during this time – or at least until you have built a strong resistance to cravings.
Whilst in rehab, you’ll be advised to connect with support groups that will assist you. For example, you’ll be introduced to Narcotics Anonymous groups and recovered former addicts. Your family and friends will also form a part of your support network to help when you feel stressed.
A sponsor may be assigned for when you experience certain challenges. They will be there for you when you feel the urge to use. Sponsors may also share their experiences and introduce you to other supportive groups, including volunteering opportunities in your area.
Tips to Handling Cravings
Cravings are common, even after you become sober. Going through rehab doesn’t mean you’ll automatically be free of the urge to use Clonazepam. However, one of the lessons you will learn during rehab is how to overcome this feeling, either through healthy distractions or detaching yourself from the trigger source.
The following are some notable ways to resist addiction cravings:
- Practice healthy distraction. Distraction is a way to avoid or redirect yourself from thoughts of using clonazepam. If you are alone, go somewhere where there are people around. Change your environment. You might also talk to someone who understands your situation – possibly a family member or sponsor. Another way to distract yourself is by staying busy. Try volunteering, exercising or even painting.
- Change imagery. If there were places you used to go to or things you previously did when you were dependent, replace them with therapeutic activities. Visualise yourself in a pleasant environment and use this image to dispel your urge to use drugs again.
- Meditation and relaxation. Many people underestimate the power of meditation and mindfulness. Focusing your mind on the positive here and now – whilst relinquishing unhealthy thoughts – helps you to relax. A relaxed mind can easily overcome cravings. Find a peaceful environment and practice this for a few minutes every day.
How long does Clonazepam Withdrawal last?
There is no standard period for clonazepam withdrawal, as it varies between individuals. Your usage history, age, BMI and health status each affect the withdrawal period. It may take one to two weeks or even months. The more dependent you are, the longer your withdrawal is likely to last.
Are there any Home Remedies for Getting Clean Safely?
There are no home remedies without the risk of relapsing.Experts advise detoxing in a controlled environment – preferably a hospital or accredited clinic with qualified medical personnel on hand.
How Long does it Take to Detox from Clonazepam?
Detox usually lasts as long as withdrawal, but doctors may keep a patient longer to examine their health and other vital statistics. Most rehabs provide detox treatment lasting 30-days, 60 days and 90 days, depending on the level of addiction.
Can Someone Die from Clonazepam Withdrawal?
Though this is rare, if detox is carried out under unsupervised conditions, the risk is high. Mental disturbances and physical health complications (such as respiratory depression) can escalate into worsening situations. Uncontrolled seizures can also lead to fatal consequences.
Can Medication Help?
Medical assisted therapy is a common form of treatment for clonazepam withdrawal. Although there is no specific drug for treatment, medicines can be used to alleviate the symptoms and make detox more bearable. For example, antidepressants help to reduce depression; Paxil and Prozac are Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors that ease withdrawal symptoms; and melatonin is used to treat insomnia.
What is Clonazepam Withdrawal?
This is the physical or psychological reaction of the brain to the absence of clonazepam in a person’s bloodstream. Because the brain has become fixated on the chemical, it is unable to ‘function’ without it. Subsequently, withdrawal manifests in the form of uncomfortable symptoms.
Is Clonazepam Withdrawal Dangerous?
Clonazepam withdrawal has the potential to be dangerous if it’s not managed properly. However, when undertaken in a hospital or a detox clinic, the risks are greatly minimised. Never attempt to go through withdrawal via the ‘cold-turkey’ method.
Are there Ways to Prevent or Reduce Withdrawal Symptoms?
Yes. One of the most effective ways is to taper your clonazepam usage until the body attains homeostasis. Another effective way is medically-assisted detox, which uses medication to treat the symptoms and make withdrawal more bearable for the patient.
Why do You get Withdrawal Symptoms?
When the brain becomes dependent on a drug, its structure adapts to accommodate the chemical as part of its function. Therefore, the absence of clonazepam is considered an anomaly and the body is forced to react negatively. This is known as withdrawal symptoms.
When do Withdrawal Symptoms Begin to Occur?
Depending on the level of addiction, withdrawal may start 24 to 72 hours after your last dose. In some cases, symptoms might take hold before then.
Call our admissions line 24 hours a day to get help.