Dangers of Clonazepam Withdrawal
Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine medication typically prescribed for the short-term treatment of panic disorders and sometimes seizure disorders. It is most commonly found under the brand name Klonopin, although generic versions are available. Occasionally, clonazepam is prescribed to treat insomnia, anxiety-related sleep disorders, or alcohol withdrawal syndrome.
This article will discuss the dangers of clonazepam withdrawal, including post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS) and its symptoms.
Withdrawal from Clonazepam
When a person who has taken a benzodiazepine like clonazepam for a long period of time and then suddenly stops taking the medication – either because their prescription is finished or because they are attempting to end an addiction – they are likely to experience some withdrawal symptoms. The longer a person has taken clonazepam, the more intense the withdrawal symptoms can be. This is also true if the individual took large doses of clonazepam.
Withdrawal symptoms typically mirror the symptoms of the disorder they were used to treat. These symptoms include:
- Anxiety or panic attacks
- Rapid heart rate
- Increased blood pressure
- Nausea or vomiting
- Constipation or diarrhea
These withdrawal symptoms most often begin 3-4 days after the final dose, and they can last for 2-4 weeks. Psychological symptoms, such as anxiety, depression, and cravings, are likely to last longer than physical effects, such as stomach upset.
People who become addicted to clonazepam may increase their dose to get a euphoric or relaxed “high,” or they may take the drug more frequently. This type of substance misuse puts these people at a greater risk of dangerous withdrawal symptoms, including post-acute withdrawal syndrome (PAWS).
What Is PAWS?
Protracted withdrawal, or post-acute withdrawal syndrome, is possible for people who have struggled with clonazepam addiction for a long time or who misused the medication in large doses for nonmedical purposes. PAWS is an increase in the intensity of withdrawal symptoms, especially anxiety, but it can also include intense depression, suicidal thoughts, and seizures. Attempting to end an addiction “cold turkey,” without medical supervision, can lead to PAWS, and these dangerous withdrawal symptoms can take up to six months or longer to resolve.
Symptoms of PAWS
PAWS is similar in many ways to delirium tremens, a syndrome related to alcohol withdrawal. Symptoms of benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome include:
- Sleep disturbance.
- Irritability or mood swings.
- Intense anxiety or panic attacks.
- Muscle weakness.
- Difficulty concentrating.
- Nausea, vomiting, and dry retching.
- Weight loss due to appetite changes.
- Body aches and pains.
- Joint stiffness.
- Heart palpitations.
- Psychotic reactions.
Psychosis and seizures are especially dangerous; however, by switching to a long-acting benzodiazepine and tapering the drug over time, many of these withdrawal symptoms can be managed.
Get Help for Clonazepam Addiction
While PAWS can be dangerous, working with specialists in a rehabilitation setting can alleviate these withdrawal symptoms and also help manage cravings. Medical professionals will work with a person overcoming addiction to clonazepam by developing a tapering regimen. Long-acting benzodiazepine replacement helps the person reduce the frequency of their dose, change their habits around the drug, and begin to focus on other aspects of life. In a rehabilitation program, the person will also work with therapists individually and in a group setting, which helps the person learn more about the roots of their addiction and develop skills to cope with cravings and addiction triggers.
The best way to end an addiction to clonazepam is to find a reputable rehabilitation program. At Recovery First, we provide different levels of addiction treatment designed to help treat people no matter where they are at in their addiction. If you or someone you love is in need of help, call us right now at and speak with one of our experience admissions navigators. Not only can they answer any questions you might have about payment options and insurance, but they can also help you gain a strong understanding of what to expect at our facility.
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