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Clonazepam Addiction
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Clonazepam Addiction

Hi to all, and Happy Thanksgiving.  I am new here.  I have been diagnosed with PTSD and Anxiety Disorder.  In addtion to Ambien, I have been taking Clonazepam (1.5 to 2 mg per day...sometimes a bit more) for about 2 years.  I have a history of addiction, and have now been told by my psych that I am addicted to Clonazepam.  He might as well have hit me in the head with a baseball bat! When this drug was prescribed for me it was an alternative to Zoloft which I hated because I experienced horrible side effects.  I was told that Clonazepam was something that I would build up an immunity to but was NEVER told it was addictive.  Now I am downright scared! Has anyone out there come off this stuff?  I do not want to take something that I am addicted to, but at the same time I am also afraid of having nothing at all.  As it is right now, I have to take the Clonazepam combined with Ambien (or another OTC sleep med) or I am awake all night.  During the day, I will sometimes need it to calm me down.  Are there non-addictive alternatives out there?  Thank you for listening.
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6 Comments Post a Comment
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685562_tn?1236818480
If you look up benzo group in yahoo, there is a good group that discusses Benzo addiction.
I too take clonopin, but only for a few months, I still dont want to take it, but right now it works great, and Im at a very low dosage
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585414_tn?1288944902
I've been on Klonopin 10 years, first for an anxiety medication and now for the control of the dystonic spasms from tardive dyskinesia. I am not addicted but the dose had to be raised twice and it does seem over a time you build up a tolerance but I need it. Its one that generally can be taken long term unlike Xanax which is meant for short term use only and easily addictive. Ativan has less of a potential for addiction than Xanax but as its short acting more than Klonopin. Klonopin is the least addictive out of all of them (and this is coming from a consumer guide to medications that I own that was published by a psychopharmocologist).
   However, there was a time I was off Klonopin. My psychiatrist agreed to let me go off it to see if I didn't need it but I didn't follow his instructions and went off it the wrong way, which is too quickly. I got terrifying hallucinations and full body withdrawal symptoms and I wasn't addicted. It would happen to anyone. I know for a fact that if someone discontinues Klonopin abruptly who is addicted the results are fatal.
   So if your psychiatrist states that you have become addicted to it, he will give you a titration schedule of how to lower it and follow it exactly. If done this way its safe but make sure if problems emerge to call him and then he might slow down the process.
  One thing I can tell you for a medical fact is that Zoloft is not addictive and if you couldn't tolerate it there are many other and newer medications in that class, the SSRI anti-depressents. Is that what he is going to change you back to? Ask him what he is replacing the Klonopin with.
  As for sleeping pills Ambien has the potential for addiction. Lunesta can be prescribed for every day use but my psychopharmocologist says it is related to benzodiazepenes clinically. But Rozerem works in the same fashion as melatonin and actually adjusts the sleep cycle. You might want to ask about that.
   You can look up the information I gave you and any website that's medically valid but follow exactly what your psychiatrist's instructions are for titrating off the Klonopin and ask him what he is going to replace it with and what the options are and discuss them in advance.
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604266_tn?1236362585
I just need to jump in real quick here and make sure that everyone knows that when getting off of Klonopin or any bezo whether too fast or slow, addiction makes no difference in the risk of fatality klonopin withdrawls come with.

The fatality risk is in the seizures and can happen to anyone who's body is dependant on the medication. Someone who's body is dependant though they aren't psychologically addicted still have a risk of seizing just the same as someone who is dependant and addicted.

The diiference is in how someone het's off the klonopon. If you slowly taper the risk of fatalities decreases largly. If you just stop or taper too fast the risk can become relaity.

Someone who's dependant and not adicted can have a fatal seizure the same as someone dependant and addicted.

Just wanted to clear that up so no one gets frightened thinking the risk of fatalities comes in only if your psychologically addicted. It's the same risk for all dependant on the drug if not done properly.
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585414_tn?1288944902
Well that's important for me to know. I wasn't in anyway addicted actually and had full withdrawal symptoms when I discontinued the Klonopin with permission. And I did not do it overnight. Just at to fast a rate. I wasn't aware of the seizure aspect. I know that it was before my recovery and I knew I did the wrong thing and I knew I had withdawal symptoms. I was not aware of the risk of seizures.
  But the important thing to understand is the risk of discontinuing any medication abruptly without a psychiatrist's consent. Last year before I recovered I went off Lamictal because I had extra-pyramidal side effects (this is extremely uncommon but my psychopharmocologist reported it to the FDA so its factual but is as a side effect statistically rare) I became extremely manic and developed rapid cycling. That was before recovery. However, six months ago I was on Tizanidine for the tardive dystonia and it was working as a mood stabilizer. I had been titrated off the Clonidine because it caused personality changes and tried on this instead. And I was on it a short time. I had severe suicidal ideations (depression as a side effect is relatively common with Clonidine and other alpha blockers, that's why they are not used as mood stabilizers often according to my psychopharmocologist and other sources, they are often used to control dystonic spasms) from it and I was terrified I might act on them. I knew like Clonidine it was a blood pressure medication but as it had been less than a week I did not think it had built up in the blood stream long enough to matter as to when to go off it. But it did because I went off it all at once. And the suicidal ideations stopped but I could feel my heart jumping around and I almost passed out and that was very dangerous. So in avoiding suicidal ideations I did something that could have had fatal results.
  So the best thing with any medication is if you are being titrated off it to do it and the rate your psychiatrist states. He was gradually lowering the Lamictal but I should have waited as he would have found something else. But even recently in avoiding suicidal ideations with the Tizanidine my neurologist had no problem with the fact I went off it and I had let him know but he would have wanted me to do it at a rate where withdrawal symptoms would not emerge. So even if a medication isn't at all addictive there still can be withdrawal symptoms. And I know that for Klonopin addiction when people are being titrated off some people do it on an in patient basis. So when a medication isn't being replaced but discontinued which is rare it must be done slowly and cautiously and I know my psychopharmocologist when this has happenned has given me a strict titration schedule and one to be followed as its written. And it may seem like a person is "better" but they are actually "responding to medication". Even with the glycine which is highly experimental (in Phase II FDA study) and titrated throughout the day as its complex to take (a powdered format) I visited my mother's house and forgot to bring it and I became psychotic and we had to go right back to my house to get it. So just as a person who is recovered from epilepsy will always need an anti-convulsant someone recovered from schizoaffective or schizophrenia will always need an antipsychotic but often people experiment thinking they've "gotten better" and go off it and that's the number one reason for hospitalization according to a doctor in the family I spoke to. I know I will never be in a psychiatric hospital again but regardless of how effective the new antipsychotics are, in the same manner as the current ones I still must take them regularly something which has never been a problem for me since 1993 when I went off medication and ended in the psych. hospital but its a lesson worth knowing not learning.
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695464_tn?1227798984
Thank you for your replies.  Unfortunetly, Rozarem is not an option for me as a replacement for Ambien. It was the first sleep aid that was prescribed for me and instead of helping me sleep, it kept me awake and restless.

My psych has not spoken of any replacement for the Clonazepam (or Ambien) and left me feeling that I would be left to live life "raw" once I am weaned off of it. I clearly remember leaving his office earlier this week with the sense that I was some kind of a joke to him...that my anxiety & PTSD was not real and that I would just have to deal with it. Later that evening I vowed to try & get myself off this stuff, but not with his help.  I will find another psych to help me, since I no longer trust the one I see now.  I feel misleaded and misinformed, and I WILL NEVER take another medication without fully understanding everything about it.

From what I have read here, it seems that this will be no easy process.  I am going back to my therapist today (after not seeing her for over a year) who I trust immensely.  She will help me find a new doc who specializes in addiction. I want to discuss the possibilities of some holistic/natural solutions.  Being addicted to this stuff has caused a new level of anxiety altogether.
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585414_tn?1288944902
It makes total sense to see another psychiatrist and I support your decision. But natural remedies are not always safer because they an unknown quantity although some have been shown to be effective. I myself take some natural remedies but they are for very specific things and under the direction of a psychiatrist or neurologist. The ones I take have shown promise in clinical studies and I know I get the pure form. Anything that promises to "restore energy" and there are no clinical studies to confirm it (note in Europe some natural remedies have been researched and are prescribed as medications) is just showing the placebo effect and considering the severity of what you have, you need something that you know will work
   The important thing to understand is although that Klonopin and the other benzodiazepenes do have a potential for addiction almost all other psychiatric medications don't. Ask what is available for the anxiety and ptsd in the way of both standard medications as well as natural remedies and they look them up online on a medically valid site such as the "Depression Central" site I mentioned (its for all mood disorders) and then come to a decision you and your psychiatrist both can support as to what you are going to transfer to.
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