Each year, doctors in America write about 20,000,000 clonazepam prescriptions.
This same drug also causes many trips to the hospital each year as patients suffer from overdoses. More and more patients are overdosing from drugs like clonazepam when taken along with other substances.
There were nearly 10,000 deaths from overdoses that involved clonazepam and other benzodiazepines in 2019.
But despite these concerning figures, clonazepam can be an effective treatment for many anxiety disorders.
If you take clonazepam, it’s important that you are aware of the clonazepam side effects long term and potential interactions that increase the risk of harm.
Read on to learn more about the potential risks associated with long-term use or abuse of clonazepam.
What Is Clonazepam?
Clonazepam is a prescription drug used to treat panic disorders and seizure disorders. Clonazepam is commonly referred to by the brand name Klonopin.
It is a benzodiazepine, which is a class of drugs that affect the central nervous system. Taking benzodiazepines results in muscle relaxation, sedation, and decreased anxiety.
Clonazepam works by increasing the amount of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is an inhibitory neurotransmitter. It decreases activity in the central nervous system.
When clonazepam increases the amount of GABA in the brain, it has a calming effect and decreases activity in the brain.
This can be an effective treatment for panic attacks and seizures. These conditions both result from increased activity in the brain and body.
Clonazepam can come in an oral tablet or an oral dissolving tablet. Doctors typically prescribe a low dose to begin with to observe how the patient reacts to the drug.
They may increase the dose as necessary to treat the condition without posing an excessive risk to the patient. However, prescribing the lowest possible dose is preferred to reduce the risk for harmful side effects and addiction.
It is a Schedule IV controlled substance. Generally, Schedule IV controlled substances have a low risk of dependency.
However, clonazepam also has a black box warning from the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA). This means that bottles of clonazepam must include a warning label describing the serious or life-threatening risks of the drug. This is the most warning label from the FDA.
What Is Clonazepam Used For?
By producing a calming effect, clonazepam helps to treat panic disorders and seizure disorders. Increased GABA can help to calm the activity in the body that occurs during a panic attack or seizure.
Sometimes, clonazepam is also used to treat insomnia or restless leg syndrome. Both of these conditions benefit from the sedative effects of the drug.
There are some side effects associated with the short-term use of clonazepam. These side effects include:
- Difficulty concentrating
Generally, these clonazepam side effects will be mild. They should subside after a week if you are taking the medication as prescribed by a healthcare professional.
What Are Clonazepam Side Effects Long Term?
Typically, clonazepam and other benzodiazepines are prescribed for short-term use. This is because they are addictive substances and there are a number of long term side effects for clonazepam.
Clonazepam can cause depression and suicidal thoughts in some patients. Long-term use can also damage the kidney, so many doctors will monitor kidney health through blood tests if they prescribe this substance.
Long-term use can also increase the risk of hip fracture, car accidents, and cause cognitive impairment. In fact, studies have found that long-term use resulted in significant cognitive impairment that was not reversed even three months after individuals stopped taking the drug.
Much of the risk associated with long-term usage of clonazepam is that you may develop a dependency. If you take too much clonazepam, there are serious complications, including:
- Memory loss
- Slowed breathing
- Increased risk for dementia
- Decreased language and motor skills
Clonazepam is especially dangerous when mixed with opioids. Opioids are prescription drugs used to treat pain. Common opioids are morphine, oxycodone, and hydrocodone, or illegal drugs like heroin.
When combined with alcohol, the positive benefits of clonazepam decrease and side effects like sedation increase. It can slow down your heart rate and cause difficulty breathing, which can be fatal.
Can You Get Addicted to Clonazepam?
Generally, clonazepam is safe if used for short periods of time as directed by your doctor.
However, it can be addictive even when taken as directed. Risk of developing dependency increases if you take it for long periods of time. Individuals with other substance abuse disorders are also at greater risk for serious complications from clonazepam abuse.
Clonazepam abuse occurs when you take more than the prescribed amount or take it longer or more often than recommended by your doctor.
Medical professionals tend to avoid prescribing clonazepam for more than a few weeks at a time because of the risk of developing a physical and emotional dependence on the drug.
If you have been prescribed clonazepam, it is important that you talk to your doctor before you stop taking clonazepam. You may experience dangerous withdrawal symptoms if you stop taking clonazepam abruptly without guidance from a medical professional.
These withdrawal symptoms might include:
- Increased anxiety
- Difficulty breathing
- Muscle and stomach cramps
Because these withdrawal symptoms pose a great risk to your wellbeing, you should seek medical attention to help you safely detox if you have developed a dependency on clonazepam.
Get the Treatment You Need Today
Clonazepam side effects long term pose a serious risk to your physical and mental health. If you or a loved one is suffering from clonazepam drug abuse, don’t wait another day before seeking the care you need.
At Restore Detox Centers, we provide the support, and guidance you need to recover. Our home is a judgment-free zone with everything you need to restore your physical and mental health.
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