At first glance, it seems safe. Klonopin is a prescription drug. Doctors give it out. It can’t hurt, right? Unfortunately, wrong. Klonopin is the brand name of the drug clonazepam. It’s a depressant from the same family of drugs as Xanax and Ativan, and it’s often prescribed as a treatment for panic attacks, epilepsy, anxiety, restless legs syndrome, and certain phobias. Because it’s prescription, many people don’t believe it’s as dangerous as some of the “harder” drugs. But Klonopin can create a euphoric high and sense of drowsy calmness that can be very addictive. It’s considered a top-ten addictive sleeping aid, and even Stevie Nicks has spoken out about how a Klonopin addiction took over her life for eight long years. Klonopin has helped many people. But outside of a prescription, it can be extremely damaging to both the user and his or her loved ones. Here’s how a Klonopin high affects the brain, how to tell if you or someone you know is facing a Klonopin addiction, and what to do if that’s the case.

How Klonopin Is Abused: Dependency vs. Addiction

Klonopin is a sedative pill that decreases electrical activity in the brain, making it an effective treatment for epilepsy and anxiety. While it can cause both dependency and addiction, it’s important to note the difference between the two. Because Klonopin can create a physical dependence after just two weeks of daily use, many individuals who take it under a doctor’s direction will form a dependence and experience withdrawal symptoms if they miss a dose. Your doctor is aware of this, and will help you lower the dosage safely when it’s time to stop taking it. A Klonopin addiction, on the other hand, includes both a physical dependence and a psychological dependence. In an addiction situation, the user will continue taking the drug even if the doctor has stopped their prescription. They’ll often seek Klonopin in high doses even though they clearly see the negative impact the drug has on their life. In general, there are three ways that individuals find themselves addicted to Klonopin:

A Mistreated Prescription

Klonopin can be a powerful and very helpful medication if taken in the correct dosage for the right amount of time. However, the body builds a tolerance to the drug over time, requiring more and more of it to attain the same results. An individual may use their prescription to get more than they need, or even see multiple doctors at once to get more of the drug (called “doctor shopping”).

A Shared Prescription

Klonopin is generally found in tablet form or as a dissolvable wafer. A friend or family member might share some tablets with the individual without realizing the full consequences of their actions. Others might even use their prescription to attain the tablets and then sell them on the black market. Giving or selling prescription drugs to someone is illegal and the involved parties could face jail time and life-altering fines. Klonopin can also trigger a severe allergic reaction, which is dangerous for the user and will make it clear to authorities that a Klonopin prescription was shared.

Exposure Outside the Home

Klonopin sometimes trades hands at parties, raves, and even at school. In 2015, 6.9% of high school seniors had abused a tranquilizer drug, which includes Klonopin. It’s often used at the same time as other drugs, to either increase the effects of other depressants or take the edge off of stimulants. According to the National Drug Intelligence Center, “Users claim that it produces a high without the smoke and red eyes associated with marijuana and is easier to conceal.” On the street, the drug is sometimes called “Kpin,” “Tranks,” “Klons,” or “Benzos.” The drug might be sold in a generic form, which may be even more dangerous due to questionable quality and the possibility of contamination.

Signs of Klonopin Abuse

As stated earlier, a Klonopin dependency is not the same as a Klonopin addiction. A doctor will be able to help you understand which one you or a loved one may be experiencing. However, there are certain symptoms and behaviors to look out for.


Klonopin is usually intended only for short-term use. If it’s used longer, the body will build up a tolerance to the drug, requiring more of it to reach the same effects. This is often a first sign of physical dependence, and possibly addiction.

Withdrawal Symptoms

Klonopin causes a rebound effect during withdrawal, meaning the symptoms it’s used to treat can come back even stronger if the patient is not weaned off of it safely. Some of the symptoms of Klonopin withdrawal are:
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures
  • Behavioral changes
  • Sweating
  • Tremors or uncontrollable shaking
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia

Changed Habits

An individual with a Klonopin addiction will often show external signs such as doing worse at work or in school, abandoning favorite hobbies, and continuing to use the drug even though they’re seeing the negative effects it has on their life. They’ll often feel like they need the drug in order to function well and will struggle to cut back their usage, even if ordered so by a doctor.


A Klonopin overdose slows down the functioning of the central nervous system, leading to symptoms like confusion, slow reflexes, poor coordination, coma, and even death. It’s especially dangerous to drink alcohol while taking Klonopin, as alcohol increases the effects of the drug and make it much easier to overdose. Learn to recognize the signs of addiction early so that an overdose does not happen. However, if someone you love has overdosed, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Preventing Addiction

If you have a Klonopin prescription, it’s important to monitor yourself and note any changes you feel. It may be helpful to have a close friend or family member help you pay attention to your symptoms. Never take a higher dosage, higher frequency, or longer usage of the drug than prescribed. It’s also necessary to keep all appointments with your doctor and the laboratory to make sure the medication is doing its job properly and you’re staying safe. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, you should keep your doctor in the loop if any of these symptoms are severe or do not go away:
  • Dizziness, unsteadiness or problems with coordination
  • Drowsiness
  • Difficulty thinking or remembering
  • Muscle or joint pain
  • Increased saliva
  • Frequent urination
  • Blurry vision
  • Changes in sex drive or ability.
Also, call a doctor immediately if you experience a rash, hives, swelling on your face, or difficulty breathing and swallowing. You may be experiencing an allergic reaction and need treatment to counteract the effects.

Treatment for a Klonopin Addiction

The first step to overcoming a Klonopin addiction is reaching out for help. Withdrawal from Klonopin is extremely dangerous, and the problems it was used to treat can come back even worse if you do not go through a withdrawal properly. A detox program can help you safely quit Klonopin and get back to a healthy place. At The Recovery Village, we offer patients a spectrum of care, including online services like teletherapy. Learn more about our drug treatment program and how you can find the freedom of a sober lifestyle, step by step.
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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.