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Klonopin (Clonazepam) Side Effects, Withdrawal and FAQs

Klonopin (generic clonazepam) is a prescribed medication in the benzodiazepine class.
Clonazepam is used as an anti-seizure or anti-epileptic drug for the treatment of seizure disorders in adults and children, and to treat akathisia, panic disorder, and other anxiety disorders.

What is Klonopin (Clonazepam) Used For?

Klonopin is a tranquilizer with sedating effects. It belongs to the benzodiazepine class of medications. These drugs have been considered harder to withdraw from than even heroin or other opiates. Klonopin is prescribed to treat the following:

  • PANIC DISORDER (a psychiatric mental disorder characterized by unfounded terror episodes that can occur frequently and unexpectedly).
  • SEIZURE DISORDERS (any of a number of epilepsy conditions characterized by seizures)
  • AGORAPHOBIA (an anxiety disorder characterized by something in the environment that triggers fear, where a person feels unsafe and unable to escape such as in a mall, subway, outside the home, etc. )
  • LENNOX-GAUT SYNDROME (type of epilepsy characterized by repeating seizures)
  • ABSENCE SEIZURES (a type of epilepsy, also called petit-mal seizures: short-lived seizures that cause a temporary blank-out, or staring into space for a few seconds)
  • ANXIETY DISORDERS (a group of mental disorders characterized by episodes of stress, worry and fretting, includes seasonal affective disorder, social anxiety disorder, etc.)
  • OCD (a psychiatric condition where a person feels compelled to repeat actions or words or patterns to avoid the anxiety that presents if these actions are not performed).
  • PTSD (a word formed from post traumatic stress disorder, after an event characterized by terror, threat of death or similar, where these past events can be triggered in the present by certain environmental reminders, recreating the sense of terror or shock etc., from the past experience).
  • MANIA (a psychiatric condition characterized by a flight of ideas, illusions, feelings of super human ability, euphoria, power, etc.)


Klonopin (Clonazepam) Alternative Names and Slang

In street jargon, Klonopin is referred to as “KPins”, or simply “tranks”. Klonopin is also nicknamed “K”, “Pin”, or “super Valium” when sold on the street.

The drug has become somewhat popularized not only as a sedative drug, but also for its fast acting euphoric effects, and is considered a high risk for abuse and addiction. The drug should only be taken for short-term use.

Many people have become inadvertently addicted to benzodiazepines such as Klonopin, and may even resort to obtaining them off the street in a desperate attempt to prevent drug withdrawals which can be extremely hard to tolerate.

Klonopin (Clonazepam) Side Effects

The side effects of Klonopin can be quite severe, and can discount any perceived benefits of the drug. It should only be used short-term for anxiety, as the side effects can become more formidable over time.

Common side effects of Klonopin (clonazepam) can include:

  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Flu like symptoms, such as runny nose, fever, diarrhea, etc.
  • Insomnia, disturbed sleep, strange dreams
  • Difficulty speaking, slurred speech
  • Slowed or difficult breathing
  • Unsteady or slow movements
  • Motor movement disorders, akathisia, restlessness, pacing, marching, rocking, etc.
  • Tiredness, drowsiness
  • Vision becomes blurred
  • Headaches
  • Dry mouth
  • Reduced appetite
  • Sore gums
  • Constipation
  • Loss of orientation
  • Memory loss
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Confusion
  • Becomes disoriented

When mixed with other CNS depressants, these effects can become more severe, requiring medical intervention to avoid a potentially life-threatening event.

Klonopin (Clonazepam) Withdrawal Symptoms

Klonopin needs to be tapered carefully and gradually enough to give the body time to adjust to a decreasing dose over time. Some of the common symptoms of withdrawal include:

  • Seizures
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mania
  • Increased depression
  • Suicidality
  • Irritability
  • Hostility
  • Aggressiveness
  • Restlessness, pacing, marching, etc.
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea
  • Appetite changes
  • Sweating
  • Tremors
  • Fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion, mental fog

Discontinuing/Quitting Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Klonopin belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. These should never be discontinued abruptly, or “cold turkey”. When this drug, like other similar medications, is withdrawn too abruptly, the withdrawal symptoms can become harsh and difficult to tolerate. The result of coming off too fast is that some symptoms will linger far longer than necessary (as in protracted withdrawal) and can lead to relapse because of their intensity.

Unless directed by a hospital or physician, never abruptly stop benzodiazepines that have been in regular use, but do a gentle taper off the drug under medical supervision. Benzodiazepines can cause seizure and even death from suddenly stopping, especially if the person has acclimated to using this medication over a long duration.

When the time comes to begin the detox or tapering process, a clinic or setting that can provide close and careful medical monitoring is recommended.

Klonopin (Clonazepam) FAQs

Below we have collected pertinent information on Klonopin or clonazepam, and some frequently requested topics related to taking the drug, withdrawal from the drug, and other information.

What Does Klonopin do For Anxiety?

Klonopin can induce a calming sedation and can quickly reduce the intensity of a panic attack or anxiety episode. However, the drug’s effects are temporary and these unwanted symptoms may soon return and even intensify between doses.

Patients may find that when taking Klonopin at night, by the morning the sedating effects may have worn off. For people with daytime anxiety, this can create a rollercoaster effect of between-dosing withdrawal manifestations. The practitioner may be inclined to include daytime dosing. However, the person with the anxiety could quickly find themselves in a spot where they are taking the medication two or three times a day, with no clear way out. Benzodiazepines affect a neurotransmitter called GABA and the effect is a slowing or calming of the CNS. Benzodiazepines should never be mixed with alcohol, opiates, or other CNS depressants as the combined result intensifies markedly, and can be life-threatening.

Is Klonopin Stronger than Xanax?

Both drugs have a similar sedative effect. However, Klonopin has a longer half-life, meaning the drug effect lasts longer than Xanax and would theoretically need to be taken less often than Xanax. Half-life is affected by many factors, and is an approximation only. Each person’s physiology is different.

For instance, the half-life of Klonopin is approximately 18 to 50 hours.   The half-life of Xanax is roughly 11 hours, considerably shorter than Klonopin. They are both strong in their sedative effects, and both are susceptible to addiction or dependence.

Because they are both benzodiazepines, they should only be taken for a short time and then tapered off.

Klonopin Vs. Xanax: What’s the Difference?

Both drugs belong to the benzodiazepine class, and are anxiolytic in their action. They are both used to treat anxiety and panic disorders, and both should be taken for short-term only as they are easy to get addicted to.

Because of differences in the half-life of these two drugs, Klonopin lasts much longer than Xanax, which is a shorter-acting medication.

Beyond other minor differences such as pricing, the effects of these two drugs are very similar to one another.

How Long do Klonopin Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

An individual who wishes to taper off Klonopin can expect the process to take some time, and should be scheduled properly for a safe and gentle cessation experience. Many people choose inpatient care due to the difficulties of the process while still trying to work a daily job, care for children, or other tasks that make the process more difficult rather than taking the time to focus on rest and recovery. Never abruptly stop taking Klonopin as prescribed, but seek medical guidance and oversight to gradually reduce the dosage over time.

In many studies, Klonopin withdrawal seems to occur in three stages of intensity. The first stage begins with the onset of withdrawals, which is generally considered to start over several days.

From around days 1 to 4, there can begin what are referred to as “rebound symptoms”, such as increased anxiety, worsened depression, or in the case of insomnia, the person can experience rebound insomnia and sleep interruptions, and other discomforts. This early period is called “acute withdrawal” and can be debilitating especially without support and proper care.

These symptoms can last for several weeks or a month or more, and will hopefully begin to subside after some time. This period is generally referred to as “post acute withdrawal”.

Withdrawal symptomology can, however, last significantly longer, stretching out into many months and even years, especially without proper treatment, and this is called protracted withdrawal. During protracted withdrawal, patients report ongoing anxiety and other symptoms very similar to what would be expected during early withdrawal. There is some suspicion that this might be due to damaged receptors, or the ongoing effects of underlying neurotoxic poisoning. These patients are not generally understood well by the medical mainstream and are sometimes subjected to others doubting the validity of their symptoms, which tend to become further pathologized without proper treatment. It seems likely in many of these cases that mainstream medicine may need to catch up to real patient experience.

It is important to remember that each individual has uniqueness, including environmental, historical, genetic and other differentiating factors that need to be addressed in any tapering program. No two people are the same, and the above is an estimated time-line that will apply to some but not apply to others.

Can You Overdose on Klonopin?

Yes. Klonopin is a powerful sedative, and can be especially dangerous if too much is ingested, or if it is taken concurrently with alcohol, opiates, or any other medications that act as CNS depressants.

Signs of overdose include:

  • Unusual or extreme drowsiness
  • Confused or impaired cognitive abilities
  • Lack of coordination, loss of balance
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slowed or stopped breathing
  • Loss of consciousness or coma
  • Can result in death

Treatment for Klonopin (Clonazepam) Abuse and Addiction?

At our holistic center, ATMC strives to provide alternative treatments for anxiety or other unwanted conditions where drugs may have proven ineffective, or brought with them harsh side effects which outweighed any benefits.

One important facet of our program involves testing for and removing toxins that have accumulated in the body. Neurotoxicity is linked to many symptoms and our industrialized environment is virtually a continual battering and exposure to poisons.  The hundreds of thousands of various chemicals that our bodies are forced to deal with is certainly taking a toll on our hormones, neurochemistry, reproductive organs, and other innate physiology vital to our survival.

Long term success is supported by the extraction of excitotoxins. One example of a common excitotoxin is pesticides, such as Organophosphates. This type of toxic accumulation can affect acetylcholinesterase enzymes, which in turn causes an overstimulation of neuronal pathways.

Pesticides act on pests by knocking out the pest’s nervous system. There is a possible parallel in human physiology because we also have acetylcholine receptors.  Because we have a liver to break down toxins, the impact may be somewhat different in humans than in a pest; however an individual whose genetics have been compromised may have a similar liability linked to accumulated toxins. Pests react with twitching muscles and other unnatural body motions, not unlike those seen in humans with a toxic-laden neurochemistry.

Even relatively common food additives such as MSG and aspartame have been linked to synaptic over-firing. These chemicals and their derivatives can stimulate receptors such as the NMDA receptor, resulting in neurotoxicity in these receptors.  In contrast, after neurotoxicity is purged from the system, our clients typically report improvements in sleep, calmer mood, brighter and more energy, and other similar benefits. But that is just the beginning of sustainable wellness. The cumulative effects of environmental toxins are truly understudied.

Many medications such as Klonopin may bring with them intolerable side effects that lead to the decision to stop taking them and look for other means to address mental health issues. Each person’s situation is highly specific to them and truly needs the guidance of an experienced and trusted medical team to determine the correct strategy. This process might be challenging to one’s family or home life, and many families have had to deal with this challenge. The decision to seek inpatient care may reduce the impact on the family and also greatly ease the process for the person who needs to focus on recovering.

We can help in tapering from such medications comfortably and safely, and bridge over to alternative therapies that can bring relief of symptoms. Our aim is help our clients attain natural sustainable mental health. Please ask us for more information on the programs we offer.

This content has been reviewed, and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Michael Loes, M.D.

Dr. Michael Loes is board certified in Internal Medicine , Pain Management and Addiction Medicine. He holds a dual license in Homeopathic and Integrative Medicine. He obtained his medical doctorate at the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 1978. Dr Loes performed an externship at the National Institute of Health for Psychopharmacology. Additionally he is a well published author including Arthritis: The Doctor’s Cure, The Aspirin Alternative, The Healing Response and Spirit Driven Health: The Psalmist’s Guide for Recovery. He has been awarded the Minnesota Medical Foundation’s “Excellence in Research” Award.

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