Benzodiazepines, like Klonopin, are some of the most commonly prescribed medications in the United States. Physicians prescribe “benzo’s,” as they’re often referred to, for a range of reasons, including seizures, insomnia, chronic anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder and withdrawal from alcohol and opioids.
Listed as a schedule IV substance by the federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), klonopin and other benzodiazepines, such as Ativan, Xanax and valium, can quickly become habit forming.
Healthcare professionals, virtually all of whom discourage recreational use of benzodiazepines, are often split about whether or not these drugs should even be prescribed to patients.
“It’s amazing how polarizing the conversation gets,” Jerrod Rosenbaum tells U.S. News. Chief of Psychiatry at Massachusetts General Hospital, Rosenbaum added, “There is a constituency that views [benzodiazepines] as evil and harmful; they tend to come out of the substance use disorder community. They’re not perfect drugs, but they do work for conditions for which nothing else is as effective.”
One of the reasons recreational klonopin use becomes habit forming is due to the tolerance a person builds after using it over a period time. Not everyone metabolizes the medication in the same way and so the amount of time it takes each person to develop a dependence varies.
Withdrawal from klonopin is especially uncomfortable and, if quit cold-turkey, particularly dangerous. Symptoms of klonopin withdrawal peak anywhere from one to two weeks after the drug is stopped and can include some of the following:
- Anxiety, irritability and depression
- Increased body temperature and sweating
- Loss of coordination
- Nausea and or vomiting
- Increased heart rate, seizures and hand tremors
- Intense and unexplainable panic attacks
Klonopin High and Addiction
“Recreational use of benzodiazepines,” according to one National Institute of Health study, “is associated with polysubstance abuse, lack of medical supervision, rapid tolerance to the euphoric or sedating side effect, and escalation of dose.”
Rock and roll legend Stevie Nicks, front-woman for the band Fleetwood Mac, developed a serious klonopin addiction after getting treatment for cocaine addiction. She talked to the Telegraph, a UK based news outlet, about her struggle to survive withdrawal, saying, “Klonopin is more deadly than coke.”
More recently, however, Chris Cornell, front-man for the bad Soundgarten, was found dead in his Detroit hotel room, as detailed by Rolling Stone. Though the coroner’s report listed his death as “suicide by hanging,” Cornell’s wife is speaking out about her husband’s struggles with anxiety. She believes his suicide was brought as a result of too much Ativan, a benzodiazepine similar to klonopin.
Though these two high profile cases serve as cautionary tales, the reality is the internet has made it easier to for people to get controlled substances, like klonopin, and use them recreationally. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) provides a comprehensive list of medications that react negatively with klonopin.