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Signs of Klonopin Abuse

Potential problems associated with the abuse of clonazepam include physical and psychological dependence, suicidal thoughts or actions, worsening depression, sleep disorders and aggression.1 Individuals prescribed high doses of sedative-hypnotics or treated for longer than one month are at risk for dependence. A past history of alcohol or prescription drug abuse and family history of alcoholism may confer a genetic predisposition to benzodiazepine dependence.2

In the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), published by the American Psychiatric Association, a new diagnosis of sedative, hypnotic and anxiolytic use disorder requires at least two of the following criteria.2

  • Continued use of a substance, e.g. a benzodiazepine such as Klonopin or other sedative-hypnotic, despite negative personal consequences.
  • Repeated inability to carry out major functions at work, school or home due to use.
  • Recurrent use in physically hazardous situations.
  • Continued use despite recurrent, persistent or worsening social or interpersonal problems associated with use.
  • Tolerance, manifested by needing a markedly increased dose to achieve intoxication or desired effect, or by markedly diminished effect with continued use of the same amount.
  • Withdrawal accompanied by characteristic symptoms, or use of the drug to avoid withdrawal.
  • Using more of the drug or for a longer period than intended.
  • Persistent desire to reduce use or unsuccessful attempts to control use.
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using or recovering from use of the substance.
  • Stopping or decreasing important work, social or recreational activities due to use.
  • Craving or strong desire to use.2

Klonopin Side Effects

Mixing Klonopin with alcohol or other drugs increases the risk of serious side effects including overdose and death. About one in 500 people taking benzodiazepines including clonazepam develop suicidal thoughts, typically within a week of starting treatment. Thoughts of self-harm or unusual changes in mood or behavior such as panic attacks, restlessness, agitation or depression should be reported to the prescribing physician as soon as possible. The following serious side effects are considered medical emergencies and 911 should be called without delay:3

  • Severe rash or hives
  • Trouble breathing or swallowing
  • Swelling of the face, lips or tongue
  • Chest pain
  • Worsening depression
  • Thoughts of suicide3

Major Clonazepam Side Effects

If any of the following physical or mental side effects occur, a physician should be called immediately. The incidence of many of these side effects is unknown.

  • Body aches or pain
  • Chills
  • Cough
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Ear congestion
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Irritability
  • Lack of appetite
  • Loss of voice
  • Nasal congestion
  • Poor coordination
  • Runny nose
  • Shakiness and unsteady walk
  • Sleepiness or unusual drowsiness
  • Sneezing
  • Sore throat
  • Tiredness
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Unsteadiness, trembling or other muscle control or coordination problems4

Mental Clonazepam Side Effects

  • Anger
  • Depression
  • Discouragement
  • Feeling sad or empty
  • Feeling detached from reality
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Other mood changes
  • Sense of detachment from self or body4
  1. Kacirova I, Grundmann M, Silhan P, Brozmanova H. A Case Report of Clonazepam Dependence: Utilization of Therapeutic Drug Monitoring During Withdrawal Period. Barkin. R, ed. Medicine. 2016;95(9):e2881. doi:10.1097/MD.0000000000002881.
  2. What Is Clonazepam (Klonopin)? Everyday Health website. http://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/clonazepam Updated July 30, 2014. Accessed February 12, 2017.
  3. Sedative, Hypnotic and Anxiolytic Use Disorder DSM-5 304.1 (F13.1). Theravive website. http://www.theravive.com/therapedia/Sedative,-Hypnotic-and-Anxiolytic-Use-Disorder-DSM–5-304.1-(F13.1) Accessed February 12, 2017.
  4. Klonopin Side Effects. Drugs website. https://www.drugs.com/sfx/klonopin-side-effects.html Updated February 6, 2017. Accessed February 12, 2017.
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