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Klonopin and Alcohol

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What is Klonopin (Clonazepam)?

Clonazepam is the generic name for Klonopin. It is an anticonvulsant and antiepileptic drug used to treat various brain-related conditions.

Clonazepam was initially developed to treat seizures. But now, it is more frequently used to treat panic disorders and relieve anxiety symptoms.

Clonazepam is a benzodiazepine (tranquilizer). Benzodiazepines are central nervous system (CNS) depressants.

This class of drugs slows brain 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.

However, Klonopin is not recommended for long-term use due to its addictive potential.

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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

Is it Dangerous to Mix Klonopin and Alcohol?

Yes, it is 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.

The danger occurs when alcohol and any drug in the benzodiazepine class are taken at the same time.

These substances have synergistic effects when taken together, meaning they enhance their mutual effects on the brain and body, and will almost always lead to complications. The severity typically depends on how much of each substance is consumed.

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Side Effects and Risks 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. 

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. This can lead to serious injury or coma.

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Can You Overdose on Klonopin and Alcohol?

Yes. It is possible to overdose on Klonopin or alcohol independently. The risk of overdose becomes significantly greater if they are mixed.

Overdosing on clonazepam alone is rarely fatal. But when 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 Options for Alcohol Abuse & Addiction

There are many treatment options available for alcohol use disorder (AUD) and addiction, including:

Inpatient Programs

Inpatient treatment takes place at a licensed residential treatment center.

These programs provide 24/7 comprehensive, structured care. You'll live in safe, substance-free housing and have access to professional medical monitoring. 

The first step of an inpatient program is detoxification. Then behavioral therapy and other services are introduced. These programs typically last 30, 60, or 90 days, sometimes longer. After this, if the person still needs care, they will require a different type of program such as a longer term residential program.

Most programs help set up your aftercare once you complete the inpatient portion of your treatment.

Partial Hospitalization Programs (PHPs)

Partial hospitalization programs (PHPs) provide similar services to inpatient programs. Services include medical care, behavioral therapy, and support groups, along with other customized therapies. 

However, in a PHP program, you return home to sleep. Some services provide food and transportation, but services vary by program.

PHPs accept new patients as well as people who have completed a shortened inpatient program of 1 to 2 weeks but still need focused recovery care.

Outpatient Programs

Outpatient treatment is less intensive than inpatient or partial hospitalization programs.

These programs organize your treatment session based on your schedule. The goal of outpatient treatment is to provide therapy, education, and support in a flexible environment.

They are best for people who have a high motivation to recover and cannot leave their responsibilities at home, work, or school. Outpatient programs are often part of aftercare programs once you complete an inpatient or PHP program. For outpatient treatment to be effective, the person needs to have a stable home situation that is supportive of recovery.

Medication-Assisted Therapy (MAT)

Sometimes medications may be used in alcohol addiction treatment.

Some medicines can help reduce the negative side effects of detoxification and withdrawal.

Others can help you reduce cravings and normalize body functions. Disulfiram (Antabuse), acamprosate (Campral), and naltrexone are the most common medications used to treat AUD. 

When combined with other evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), MAT can help prevent relapse and increase your chance of recovery.

Support Groups

Support groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Self-Management And Recovery Training (SMART) are open to anyone with a substance use disorder.

They are peer-led organizations dedicated to helping each other remain sober.  Support groups can be the first step towards recovery or part of a long-term aftercare plan.

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Updated on April 5, 2022
4 sources cited
  1. National Institute of Health. Clonazepam. NIH https://pubchem.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/compound/Clonazepam
  2. National Institute of Health. A Case Report of Clonazepam. NIH https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4782857/
  3. 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/
  4. 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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