What Is Clonazepam Used For?

There are a lot of questions people have about the use of clonazepam for opiate withdrawal. Clonazepam is most commonly known by the brand name Klonopin. It is prescribed widely in the U.S. Klonopin is approved for the treatment of panic disorder, seizures and certain movement disorders. Klonopin is part of the benzodiazepine class of medications. Benzodiazepines are also known as benzos. Benzos are relatively fast-acting medications used to treat physical and mental health conditions. Xanax is also a benzo, and it’s one of the most commonly prescribed psychiatric medicines in the world.

Clonazepam and other benzos aren’t intended for long-term use. Despite how often this class of drugs is prescribed, addiction and dependence are possible. Clonazepam is a depressant of the central nervous system. It binds to GABA receptors, creating a sense of calm. In addition to reducing anxiety, clonazepam can also help people sleep. Beyond the potential for addiction and dependence, clonazepam can have other side effects as well. Sedation is possible, as is motor impairment. Less common side effects can include irritability, confusion and cognitive impairment.

Clonazepam for Opiate Withdrawal
Opioids and opiates are addictive and sometimes deadly drugs. This class of drugs includes prescription pain relievers, such as oxycodone, as well as heroin. Much like clonazepam, opioids and opiates are intended only for short-term use. When they’re used for more than a few weeks, opiates can cause addiction. These drugs can also lead to physical dependence. When a person who is dependent on opioids tries to stop using, they will experience withdrawal symptoms. Opiate withdrawal symptoms may include anxiety, agitation, insomnia, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea and constipation.

Unlike other types of withdrawal, such as alcohol withdrawal, detoxing from opioids isn’t typically deadly. It is, however, uncomfortable. For people to go through opioid addiction treatment, they must first detox successfully, which is why a medical detox is often the best option. There are a variety of medical and supplemental interventions that can be provided to patients during a medical detox. These interventions improve the chances of a successful detox and reduce the risk of a relapse.

There are a few reasons people might think clonazepam would be useful for opiate withdrawal. Clonazepam could theoretically help with symptoms like anxiety and insomnia. Clonazepam is also sometimes used in other detox programs. Detoxing from alcohol, for example, can cause seizures; providing patients with clonazepam can help prevent this serious and potentially deadly side effect. With opiate withdrawal symptoms, however, clonazepam probably wouldn’t be the best option.

Clonazepam is addictive and can cause dependence, so a person using this drug during detox may replace one addiction with another. Since opiate withdrawal isn’t usually deadly, this is a risk that probably shouldn’t be taken. Other medications are better suited to deal with symptoms of insomnia and anxiety — without the fear that a person will become dependent on a different medication. Also, if a person were to relapse while on clonazepam, they could experience a fatal overdose. Both opioids and clonazepam depress the central nervous system, which could slow breathing to the point of fatal asphyxiation.

Sometimes people will attempt to detox from opiates on their own at home. They may use clonazepam as part of this effort. This is risky in many ways. Detox should be done under medical supervision, and clonazepam shouldn’t be used without the direction of a physician. Again, it’s also possible to become dependent on the clonazepam itself, and withdrawal from clonazepam is significantly more dangerous than opioid withdrawal.

If you’re struggling with substance abuse, contact The Recovery Village. Our team of addiction specialists can answer questions and help you determine what’s right for you or your loved one.

Medical Disclaimer: The Recovery Village aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.

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