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Klonopin (Clonazepam)


"Klonopin, along with the other drugs in this class, has become the prescription of choice for abusers from Hollywood to Wall Street. In the process, these Schedule IV substances have also earned the dubious distinction of being second only to opioid painkillers like OxyContin as our nation's most widely abused class of drug.” Christopher Byron

Klonopin (clonazepam) is manufactured by Roche Pharmaceutical and was first approved to treat epilepsy in 1975. It is available in 0.5mg, 1mg, and, 2mg tablets. Klonopin wafers (clonazepam orally disintegrating tablets) are available in the following doses (1/8, 1/4, ½, 1, or 2mgs).

Klonopin belongs to the family of drugs known as benzodiazepines, along with drugs like Ativan (lorazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Xanax (alprazolam).

The drug works by increasing the availability of the neurotransmitter GABA (Gamma-amino butyric acid). GABA is the body’s natural calming agent, which relaxes the central nervous system and regulates muscle tone in the body by signaling nerves to "calm down."

In terms of its relative potency to the other benzodiazepines 0.5mgs of Klonopin is equivalent to 1mg of Xanax, which is equivalent to 2mgs of Ativan, which is equivalent to 10 mgs of Valium.

Klonopin is used to treat generalized anxiety and social anxiety and in particular, it is FDA approved in the treatment of panic disorder.

Klonopin is also FDA approved for the treatment of acute epileptic seizures. It is also prescribed “off-label” in the treatment of muscle spasticity, nausea, akathisia (general restlessness), RLS (restless leg syndrome), bruxism (teeth grinding), alcohol withdrawal syndrome, and certain types of migraines.

Klonopin is the longest acting benzodiazepine with a half-life of approximately 30 hours meaning that 30 hours after ingesting the drug one half on the drug is still present in the body.

It is its long half-life that makes Klonopin a much more attractive alternative to a benzo like Xanax, which has a very short half-life; about six hours.

Klonopin is absorbed rapidly in the body and has a “onset of action” of about 20 to 30 minutes

Although some people may experience beneficial effects from clonazepam within a few days of starting to take the medication, it often takes several weeks to get the medication's full effect.

Common side effects associated with Klonopin

  • depression
  • dizziness
  • fatigue
  • irritability
  • problems with memory
  • problems with coordination

Less common side effects include:

  • abdominal pain
  • blurred vision
  • diarrhea
  • mood or mental changes
  • muscle aches and pains
  • nausea
  • nervousness
  • slurred speech
  • sweating
  • trouble with speaking
  • vomiting

Like all benzodiazepines, Klonopin is a Schedule IV controlled substance meaning that is has a moderate potential for abuse with limited physical dependence or psychological dependence.

Benzodiazepines, such as clonazepam should be used for short periods only. They may produce emotional and or physical dependence (addiction) even when used as recommended.

Alcohol use should be avoided while taking Klonopin since it tends to increase the medications sedating effects.

Abruptly stopping clonazepam after being on the drug for several weeks may result in one or more of the following withdrawal symptoms: irritability, nausea, tremor, dizziness, blood pressure changes, rapid heart rate, and seizures.

For more information on Clonazepam, visit the National Library of Medicine. Also check out the other titles suggested by the author below.

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