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Clonazepam Withdrawal (Klonopin) Side Effects, Addiction, Tapering

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Last Updated on March 9, 2021 by Carol Gillette

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Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Written by Diane Ridaeus Published Sep 13, 2018
Medically Reviewed by Dr Michael Loes MD

Too many doctors and detox centers unwittingly botch clonazepam withdrawal. Clonazepam (brand name Klonopin) does not lend itself to a rapid withdrawal and the reduction needs to be done slowly, precisely, and compassionately.

Clonazepam, like all benzodiazepines, can manifest nasty withdrawal complications, often far worse than heroin. Yet, according to the DEA, as a schedule IV drug,6 Klonopin has “a low potential for abuse and low risk of dependence.” That would be laughable were it not such a tragic misrepresentation that then gets conveyed to unsuspecting patients.1

Do Your Symptoms
Require Clonazepam?

clonazepam addiction withdrawal
Alternative to Meds has been a world expert on effective, safe benzodiazepine withdrawal for more than fifteen years. Our published evidence reflects an astounding 87.5% long-term success rate for our clients. In conjunction with slow tapering techniques, we use holistic supplementation, counseling, and provide neurotoxin removal that assists the withdrawal and also provides lasting relief after the reduction is complete. While some people need only good tapering strategies, others are neurotoxic, meaning their neurochemistry has gone into overdrive. Techniques are needed that lessen that toxic burden before they can expect to find relief without the drugs. Each person’s profile has to be addressed in all its unique detail, and that is how we are able to effectively relieve and resolve these unwanted symptoms for long-lasting relief.

You are likely painfully aware of the horrors of this drug. Trying to navigate life on Klonopin can be a mess. Yet trying to get off of it can feel worse than death if it is done poorly. You probably feel trapped and feel no one understands your suffering. Then you sound just like we did … and that’s why we are doing this work.
Please watch the videos you see here or call us to get hope about your situation.

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Clonazepam Withdrawal Symptoms

Clonazepam needs to be tapered carefully and gradually enough to give the body time to adjust to a decreasing dose over time. There can be many adverse effects when coming off benzodiazepines.

Some serious side effects of clonazepam withdrawal:

  • Seizures, tremors*
  • Suicidality, increased depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Mania
  • Mood swings, irritability, hostility, aggressiveness, paranoia
  • Restlessness, pacing, marching, etc.
  • Stomach pain
  • Nausea, stomach pain, appetite changes
  • Confusion, mental fog

*The FDA has issued warnings concerning risk for status epilepticus1 that may emerge during withdrawal.

What is Clonazepam (Klonopin) Used For?

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. Also sold under the brand name Klonopin, it is a tranquilizer with sedating effects.

These drugs have been considered harder to withdraw from than heroin or other opiates.2,5 Klonopin is often 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-Gastaut Syndrome (a 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, 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, the 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 superhuman ability, euphoria, power, etc.)

Clonazepam (Klonopin) Alternative Names and Slang

toxinsIn 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 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.

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 clonazepam (Klonopin) can include:

  • Depression
  • Increased anxiety
  • Flu-like symptoms, such as a 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.

Discontinuing Clonazepam (Klonopin) Safely

klonopin withdrawal symptomsKlonopin belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. Clonazepam withdrawal should never be abrupt, 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.

Recommended is to do a gentle taper from the drug under medical supervision. Benzodiazepines can cause seizures and even death from suddenly stopping, especially if the person has acclimated to using this medication over a long duration.1

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.

Clonazepam Withdrawal FAQs

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

What Does Clonazepam 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 Clonazepam 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 clonazepam withdrawal can be done with less risk.

Clonazepam 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 Clonazepam 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, clonazepam 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 “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.

Special Note Re: Pregnancy and Klonopin (clonazepam)

Women of child-bearing age, or who are planning a pregnancy should be informed of the risk of birth defects in infants whose mothers took Klonopin during pregnancy.4 Recommended would be a clonazepam withdrawal program before conceiving a child, even where pregnancy is not planned but possible.

Unique Factors in Clonazepam Withdrawal Programs

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 Clonazepam (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. Tragically, many opiate users also use Klonopin or other benzos concurrently. Approximately one-quarter of opioid overdose deaths also tested positive for benzodiazepines in their systems.5

Signs of clonazepam 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 Clonazepam (Klonopin) Abuse and Addiction

stabilize neurochemistryAt our holistic center, we strive 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 clonazepam withdrawal 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 are certainly taking a toll on our hormones, neurochemistry, reproductive organs, and other innate physiology vital to our survival.

Does Removal of Neurotoxins Aid in Clonazepam Withdrawal?

clonazepam testingLong-term success is supported by the extraction of excitotoxins. One example of a common excitotoxin is used in pesticides, such as organophosphates. This type of toxic accumulation can affect acetylcholinesterase enzymes, which in turn causes overstimulation of neuronal pathways.3

This can be helpful to understand during clonazepam withdrawal, and when addressing neurochemistry in general. 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 toxin-laden neurochemistry.

Effects of Food Additives on 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, feeling brighter and more energetic, and other similar benefits. But that is just the beginning. Authentic wellness is sustainable wellness. The cumulative effects of environmental toxins are truly understudied.

Why Consider Inpatient Clonazepam Withdrawal?

Many medications such as clonazepam may bring with them intolerable side effects that lead to the decision to consider Klonopin withdrawal, and look for other natural 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 to help our clients attain natural sustainable mental health. Please ask us for more information on the extraordinarily effective clonazepam withdrawal programs we offer at Alternative to Meds Center, in Sedona Arizona.

1. FDA Label Clonazepam [Internet] 2017 Oct [cited 2020 Oct 6]

2. Torgeson T, “My Addiction to Benzos Was Harder to Overcome than Heroin.”  Healthline [Internet] N.D. [cited 2020 Oct 6]

3. Mattson MP, “Excitotoxins- an overview.” Science Direct [Internet] N.D. [cited 2020 Oct 6]

4. Almgren M, Kallen B, Lavebratt C, “Population-based study of antiepileptic drug exposure in utero — influence on head circumference in newborns.” US National Library of Medicine {Internet] 2009 Dec 18, 2009 [cited 2020 Oct 6]

5. NIDA “Benzodiazepines and Opioids” [Internet] 2018 Mar 15 [cited 2020 Oct 6]

6. “Drug Scheduling” U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, [cited 2020 Oct 6]

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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Clonazepam Withdrawal (Klonopin) Side Effects, Addiction, Tapering
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