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What is Klonopin (Clonazepam)?

Clonazepam, commonly referred to by the brand name Klonopin, is an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug used to treat various brain-related conditions. Although it was initially developed to treat seizures, clonazepam has become more frequently used to treat panic disorders (including panic attacks) and relieve anxiety symptoms due to its powerful calming effects.

Clonazepam belongs to a pharmacological class of drugs known as benzodiazepines, which are tranquillizer medications. Benzodiazepines are central nervous system depressants (CNS depressants). This class of drugs work by slowing brain activity and CNS activity, leading to sedation and feeling more relaxed. Klonopin is a prescription medication that is taken orally in tablet form. 

The effects of clonazepam typically begin less than one hour after ingestion and last somewhere between five and ten hours. This is considered to be a long-acting benzodiazepine. 

Klonopin is one of the most commonly prescribed medications to ease anxiety and treat withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and other addictive substances. However, Klonopin itself is not recommended for long-term use due to its addictive potential. Clonazepam can be habit-forming or lead to physical dependence.

Side Effects of Klonopin

Several common side effects may occur from using Klonopin, including:

  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Depression or other mental health episodes
  • Dizziness
  • Loss of memory and other memory problems
  • Issues with coordination or balance

Klonopin may also cause more severe side effects, which include:

  • Severe drowsiness and confusion
  • Sudden changes in mood or behavior
  • Aggression
  • Hallucinations
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Involuntary eye movement
  • New or worsening seizures
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Is it Dangerous to Mix Klonopin and Alcohol?

Klonopin is typically a safe and effective medication if taken for short periods and not mixed with other substances. However, when combined with alcohol, it can be extremely dangerous or even deadly. 

The danger occurs from the harmful interaction that occurs when alcohol and any drug in the benzodiazepine class are consumed simultaneously. These substances do not mix well when taken together and will almost always lead to complications. The severity typically depends on how much of each substance is consumed.

Side Effects of Mixing Klonopin with Alcohol

There are several dangerous side effects of mixing Klonopin with alcohol, including:

  • Depressed breathing or difficulty breathing
  • Pale or clammy skin
  • Blue tint around the lips or beneath the fingernails 
  • Serious physical coordination impairment
  • Reduced liver function
  • Short- and long-term memory loss

If any of these symptoms are left untreated without immediate medical help, it could lead to death. 

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Risks of Mixing Klonopin with Alcohol

There are serious risks involved with mixing Klonopin and alcohol. In addition to the dangers and side effects listed above, the risks can become compounded because both Klonopin and alcohol are consumed orally. This allows for more of each substance to enter the bloodstream over time as they are both ingested, which is a relatively slow metabolization method. 

However, the most serious risk of mixing Klonopin with alcohol is that they enhance one another’s intoxicating effects. This means that taking Klonopin and alcohol together, even in small doses, can significantly increase drowsiness and impair coordination, which can lead to serious injury or coma.

Can You Overdose on Klonopin and Alcohol?

It is possible to overdose on Klonopin or alcohol independently, and the risk of overdose becomes significantly greater if they are mixed. Overdosing on clonazepam alone is rarely fatal, but when abused and combined with alcohol or other drugs, it creates dangerous drug interactions that often cause serious harm and possibly death.

Some signs and symptoms of an overdose of Klonopin and alcohol together may include:

  • Increased drowsiness
  • Serious confusion
  • Loss of coordination
  • Slowed reflexes
  • Slowed breathing
  • Stopped breathing
  • Loss of consciousness 
  • Coma
  • Death

Treatment for Alcohol and Klonopin Addiction

It is essential to get help as soon as possible to effectively treat alcohol and Klonopin abuse. Addiction treatment for either of these substances can be very serious, but when both are involved together, it becomes even more crucial to seek medical assistance. 

The longer a combined addiction is left untreated, the more likely the patient will abuse alcohol and clonazepam together in greater quantities. There is also an increased risk of combining these substances with other drugs, including heroin, cocaine, prescription painkillers, or barbiturates.

There are two main treatment options when seeking medical assistance: outpatient treatment and inpatient rehabilitation. Both of these options require a medically supervised detox where the patient must refrain from alcohol use and any other substance use.

Outpatient treatment involves checking in to a medical facility but being discharged without spending the night. It can be effective depending on the severity and whether a patient is experiencing alcohol and clonazepam addiction together or individually. Inpatient rehabilitation is typically more effective for patients who are experiencing addictions to both alcohol and Klonopin. 

The medical oversight provided by inpatient rehabilitation allows patients to safely withdraw from these substances, with social support from therapists and peers to help treat the root cause of substance abuse and discover better avenues to deal with stress and cravings. 

Inpatient treatment programs also keep these substances away from the patient and eliminate stressful environments that might trigger a relapse. This helps patients focus more on overcoming addiction and less on dealing with the circumstances that led to addiction in the first place.

If you or a loved one is suffering from Klonopin and alcohol addiction, contact a healthcare provider or medical professional immediately to find a treatment center or treatment facility nearby.

Resources

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National Institute of Health. Clonazepam. NIH https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Clonazepam

National Institute of Health. A Case Report of Clonazepam. NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4782857/

Basit H, & Kahwaji CI. Clonazepam. [Updated 2020 May 4]. In: StatPearls [Internet]. Treasure Island (FL): StatPearls Publishing; 2020 Jan-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK556010/

United States Food and Drug Administration. Klonopin Tablets (Clonazepam). FDA https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2017/017533s059lbl.pdf

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