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Klonopin (Clonazepam) Abuse, Addiction, and Treatment

Medically Verified: 2/1/24

Medical Reviewer

Chief Editor

All of the information on this page has been reviewed and verified by a certified addiction professional.

Many people believe that all prescription medications are safe. But some prescription drugs, including a commonly-prescribed medication called Klonopin (clonazepam), carry the risk of abuse addiction. It’s essential to recognize the signs of Klonopin abuse and addiction and get treatment if needed.

The Carolina Center for Recovery staff is available now to answer questions you have about Klonopin abuse or substance abuse treatment.

What is Klonopin?

Klonopin is the brand name for a prescription benzodiazepine called clonazepam. Doctors commonly prescribe Klonopin to treat anxiety and panic disorders.[1]

Klonopin works in the brain by increasing the amount of a neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). GABA is a naturally-occurring neurotransmitter that neutralizes adrenaline. Some mental health conditions, including panic disorders, bipolar disorder, and general anxiety, are believed to be related to a lack of GABA in a person’s brain. Taking medications like Klonopin can increase the amount of GABA in the brain and relieve symptoms of these conditions. Doctors may also prescribe Klonopin to treat seizures and epilepsy.

Why Do People Abuse Klonopin?

Klonopin is effective at relieving anxiety, panic, and insomnia, but it carries the risk of dependence and addiction. In addition to relieving uncomfortable symptoms of anxiety and panic, Klonopin can also make people feel sedated, calm, or euphoric. People who begin taking Klonopin for anxiety may take it for a longer period or in higher amounts because they like the way it makes them feel.

Over a period of prolonged or heavy use, people may develop tolerance. Tolerance means needing more of the drug to get the same effects. They may take more and more Klonopin, which can lead to addiction. Research shows that about ⅓ of people who take Klonopin for four or more weeks develop signs of tolerance.[2]

In high doses or when combined with alcohol or other central nervous system depressants, a benzodiazepine overdose can occur.

How Serious is Klonopin Abuse?

Klonopin abuse is a serious issue. In 2011, there were 76,577 emergency department visits related to Klonopin abuse–and this number was up 100% from 2004.[3] Klonopin abuse appears to be a growing problem in the United States.

Klonopin is a Schedule IV drug, meaning it has an accepted medical use but poses the risk of addiction. Addiction is a devastating condition that can lead to severe, lifelong consequences. Anyone who takes Klonopin may develop an addiction to it, regardless of other risk factors. If you take Klonopin, you must be aware of the signs of Klonopin abuse and addiction and get help immediately if necessary.

Recognizing Klonopin Abuse

Klonopin abuse can develop if someone begins taking the medication under a doctor’s supervision or if they take it recreationally. Knowing the signs of substance abuse is essential. These include:

  • Purchasing Klonopin on the streets
  • Doctor shopping to try and get multiple prescriptions
  • Falling asleep or nodding off
  • Showing physical side effects of Klonopin such as drowsiness, dizziness, unsteadiness, poor coordination, and a drunk-like state[4]
  • Memory loss
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns
  • Mixing Klonopin with alcohol to increase the effects

Klonopin abuse may also lead to changes in a person’s appearance, mood, or appetite. They may also experience legal or financial trouble due to their drug abuse.

The Signs of Klonopin Addiction

Addiction means a loss of control over a person’s drug use. Someone living with Klonopin addiction will prioritize their substance use over everything else in their life–including their work, health, and loved ones.

In many cases, Klonopin addiction changes how a person’s brain and body work. The person is no longer in control of whether or not they take the drug–their body needs it to function.

Common signs of Klonopin addiction include:

  • Needing more of the drug to get the same effect
  • Continuing to use Klonopin despite negative consequences
  • Falling behind in responsibilities at home, work, or school
  • Isolating from friends and family
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms without taking Klonopin
  • Spending a lot of time and energy getting, using, and recovering from Klonopin

Addiction is also defined by four Cs:

  • Compulsivity – compulsive drug-seeking and use
  • Cravings – an intense feeling of a need or desire for Klonopin
  • Consequences – they will continue to use it even when they get sick or injured, lose relationships, or run out of money
  • Control – they can no longer control their Klonopin use and can’t stop on their own

People with Klonopin addiction must seek immediate professional substance abuse treatment.

Treatment for Klonopin Addiction

Klonopin addiction treatment happens in stages. Comprehensive treatment programs are designed to care for the whole person and address the emotional, physical, behavioral, and environmental aspects of Klonopin abuse and addiction.


Before beginning a treatment program, a doctor or addiction specialist will assess your needs and recommend a level of care. They will ask you questions about your substance use, treatment history, medical or mental health needs, and other important personal information.


Many people require detox to manage Klonopin withdrawal. Withdrawal often includes many uncomfortable symptoms, including cravings, that lead people to relapse early in the process. In a medically-supported detox program, you will have round-the-clock access to medical treatments and emotional support that can ensure a safe, complete detox.


After completing detox, you will begin a comprehensive benzodiazepine addiction treatment that addresses the physical, emotional, and behavioral aspects of Klonopin addiction. You will participate in individual and group counseling to explore the roots of your addiction, receive mental health and medical treatment, and learn valuable skills to avoid relapse in the future.


Klonopin addiction, like other types of addiction, is never truly cured. Instead, you will need to manage your condition for life. You must develop an aftercare plan to make sure you’re getting the support and ongoing treatment you need to live a healthy, sober lifestyle for years to come. An aftercare plan may consist of individual therapy, regular medical and mental health care, group support, or other activities that support recovery.

Get Help Now

If you or someone you love need treatment for Klonopin abuse or want to learn more about Klonopin addiction, reach out to the Carolina Center for Recovery specialists today.