Generic Name: Clonazepam
Tablet Strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg Orally Disintegrating Tablet Strengths: 0.125 mg, 0.25 mg, 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Brand Name: Klonopin®
Available Tablet Strengths: 0.5 mg, 1 mg, 2 mg
Important safety warnings can be found at the end of this document; please review them before taking this medication.
What is Clonazepam and What Does It Treat?
Clonazepam belongs to the benzodiazepine class of drugs. It is approved for the treatment of panic disorder (with or without agoraphobia) and certain types of seizure disorders. However, benzodiazepines are also commonly used to treat sleep difficulties and alcohol withdrawal.
Panic disorder occurs when individuals experience sudden and recurring episodes of intense fear. These episodes manifest with physical symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, rapid heartbeat, sweating, dizziness, and nausea. Worrying about future episodes is also characteristic of panic disorder.
What You Should Know About Clonazepam:
- Refrain from driving or operating machinery until you understand how this medication affects you, as you may experience fatigue or dizziness.
- The onset of anxiety or insomnia relief from clonazepam may vary, either rapidly or over several days.
- Benzodiazepines, including clonazepam, are generally prescribed for short periods. They can lead to emotional and physical dependence (addiction), even when used as directed. Your healthcare provider will assess the necessary duration of treatment in consultation with you.
- Do not discontinue clonazepam abruptly or modify your dose without consulting your healthcare provider, as sudden cessation may result in withdrawal symptoms, such as irritability, nausea, tremors, dizziness, changes in blood pressure, rapid heartbeat, and seizures. Withdrawal reactions can occur if the dose is reduced for any reason.
- Combining clonazepam with opioid medications can lead to serious side effects, including slowed or difficult breathing and fatal outcomes. Opioids, used for pain management, include drugs like codeine, oxycodone, morphine, and illegal substances like heroin. Some opioids are present in cough syrup.
- If you are taking clonazepam with an opioid, seek medical assistance if you experience dizziness, drowsiness, slow or labored breathing, or loss of consciousness. Caregivers should seek immediate medical attention if a patient becomes unresponsive and fails to awaken.
- Refrain from alcohol consumption while using this medication.
Special Considerations for Clonazepam and Pregnancy:
Pregnant individuals or those planning pregnancy should notify their healthcare provider to manage their medications effectively. Those with anxiety disorders who wish to become pregnant must weigh the risks and benefits of using benzodiazepines during pregnancy. Clonazepam can elevate the risk of premature birth and low birth weight. Newborn withdrawal and “floppy baby syndrome” are potential side effects. It’s crucial to discuss this with your doctor and caregivers.
Caution is advised for breastfeeding, as clonazepam can pass into breast milk.
What to Discuss With Your Healthcare Provider Before Taking Clonazepam:
- Your most bothersome symptoms related to your condition.
- If you have thoughts of self-harm or suicide.
- Past medications used for your condition, their effectiveness, and any adverse effects experienced.
- Any side effects encountered with your medications; discuss these with your healthcare provider. While some side effects may diminish over time, others may necessitate medication adjustments.
- Any other psychiatric or medical conditions you have, including obstructive sleep apnea.
- A list of all current medications, including over-the-counter products, herbal supplements, and nutritional supplements, as well as any known medication allergies.
- Non-medication treatments you’re undergoing, such as talk therapy or substance abuse treatment. Your provider can explain how these therapies align with your medication.
- If you are elderly or have a history of falling.
- Pregnancy, plans for pregnancy, or breastfeeding.
- If you have acute narrow-angle glaucoma or untreated open-angle glaucoma.
- If you have liver disease.
- If you have phenylketonuria (PKU).
- If you consume alcohol or use drugs.
How to Take Clonazepam:
Clonazepam can be taken with or without food. If you experience stomach upset, take it with food.
You can take clonazepam daily at regular intervals or on an as-needed (“PRN”) basis. Typically, your healthcare provider will limit the number of daily doses.
The right dosage and method of taking the medication will be determined by your healthcare provider based on your response.
Clonazepam orally disintegrating tablets must be kept in their original packaging. Open the package with clean, dry hands before each dose. Do not attempt to transfer tablets to a pillbox if you are using orally disintegrating tablets. Consume the tablets immediately; do not store them for later use.
Clonazepam orally disintegrating tablets will dissolve in your mouth within seconds and can be swallowed with or without liquid.
If you are taking the medication daily (rather than as needed), use a calendar, pillbox, alarm, or phone reminder to ensure you take it as prescribed. You can also ask a family member or friend to help you remember or check in with you.
What to Do If You Miss a Dose of Clonazepam:
If you miss a clonazepam dose, take it as soon as you remember unless it’s close to your next scheduled dose. Discuss this with your healthcare provider. Do not double your next dose or take more than prescribed.
Things to Avoid While Taking Clonazepam:
Refrain from consuming alcohol or using illicit drugs while taking clonazepam. These substances can reduce the medication’s benefits and increase its adverse effects, such as sedation. Alcohol can heighten the risk of accidental overdose when combined with clonazepam.
What to Do in Case of Clonazepam Overdose:
If an overdose occurs, contact your doctor or 911 for urgent medical care. You can also reach out to the poison control center at 1-800-222-1222.
Overdose symptoms include confusion, impaired coordination, slow reflexes, coma, and, in severe cases, death.
A specific treatment, flumazenil, can reverse clonazepam’s effects but must be administered via IV in a hospital. Only a doctor can determine if you require this treatment.
Possible Side Effects of Clonazepam:
Common side effects include:
- Dizziness, drowsiness, fatigue, or lightheadedness
- Impaired coordination and decreased ability to concentrate
These side effects typically improve within the first week or two of clonazepam use. If side effects persist or become problematic, consult your healthcare provider.
Rare or severe side effects:
- Shortness of breath, difficulty speaking, profound fatigue, dizziness, or loss of consciousness
- Increased heart rate, headache, memory problems, irritability, and restlessness
- Some individuals taking benzodiazepines may experience a severe allergic reaction with facial swelling, sometimes even after the first dose.
- People taking benzodiazepines for sleep have reported engaging in various activities while asleep or not fully awake, such as sleep-driving, making phone calls, and preparing or eating food, with no memory of these events upon waking.
- Watch for signs of depression, low mood, thoughts of self-harm or suicide, or a lack of interest in life.
Risks of Long-Term Clonazepam Use:
When used as directed, clonazepam is a safe and effective medication. However, benzodiazepines can lead to emotional and physical dependence (addiction), even when taken correctly. Physical dependence may develop after two or more weeks of daily use. The risk of withdrawal symptoms upon stopping clonazepam increases with prolonged use.
Medications That May Interact With Clonazepam:
The following medications can increase clonazepam levels and effects:
- Ketoconazole (Nizoral®), itraconazole (Sporanox®), nefazodone (Serzone®), fluvoxamine (Luvox®), cimetidine (Tagamet®), and ritonavir (Norvir®).
The following medications can decrease clonazepam levels and effects:
- Carbamazepine (Tegretol®), phenytoin (Dilantin®), and phenobarbital (Luminal®).
Clonazepam should not be taken with other benzodiazepine medications.
Exercise caution when combining clonazepam with medications that cause drowsiness, including:
- Antihistamines like diphenhydramine (Benadryl®)
- Opioid pain medications such as morphine, oxycodone (OxyContin®), and hydrocodone (Vicodin® and Lortab®)
- Opioid cough medications like codeine cough syrup
- Sleep medications such as zolpidem (Ambien®)
- Other anti-anxiety medications, antipsychotic medications, select anticonvulsants, and tricyclic antidepressants like amitriptyline.
How Quickly Does Clonazepam Work?
When you begin taking clonazepam, relief from anxiety or insomnia may occur quickly, over several days, or within hours of the first dose.
Summary of FDA Black Box Warnings:
The FDA has found that when benzodiazepines like clonazepam are used in conjunction with opioids or other sedating medications, serious adverse reactions, including death, can occur. Patients and caregivers should seek immediate medical attention if the patient experiences unusual dizziness or lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slow or difficult breathing, or unresponsiveness.
As a benzodiazepine, clonazepam carries the risk of abuse, misuse, and addiction. Physical dependence may develop with prolonged use, and withdrawal reactions can occur when discontinuing clonazepam. To minimize this risk, do not abruptly stop taking clonazepam and make no changes to your therapy without consulting your healthcare provider. Buy Xanax Online