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Klonopin Overdose: Risks, Signs & Treatment

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Last Updated - 6/17/2022

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Klonopin is a benzodiazepine, also known as a “benzo.” The drug can be misused for its sedative effects. Taking a large dose can lead to a Klonopin overdose, the consequences of which can be serious and long-term. An overdose can impact the ability to function beyond initial treatment.

While it is possible to overdose on Klonopin and other benzodiazepines when taken on their own, the risk is relatively low. However, benzos are especially dangerous when combined with other substances, particularly opioids and alcohol. Benzodiazepines do not affect vital signs like heart rate and breathing rate on their own, but they greatly increase the potency of opioids and alcohol, which affect vital signs.

Benzodiazepines were one of the most common drugs involved in fatal overdose between 2011 and 2016. The long-term effects of Klonopin overdose depend on the dose and any other substances.

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Klonopin Dosage

Klonopin dosage depends on what is being treated and can vary from 0.25–20 mg. Different conditions require different amounts of this drug to be effective. Seizure disorders require higher doses since they are medical emergencies.

People who misuse Klonopin may take much higher doses than is considered safe, which significantly increases the risk of overdose. However, someone who is smaller in size or has low drug tolerance could overdose on a lower dose of Klonopin.

Klonopin Dosage for Sleep

Klonopin is rarely prescribed for sleep because it has a long half-life of 30–40 hours. Based on its half-life, Klonopin may take 150–200 hours to leave the body. Even when used for sleep, there is a high risk of drowsiness for several days after use. The usual dosage for sleep is 0.25–2 mg within 30 minutes of sleep.

Klonopin Dosage for Anxiety

Klonopin and other benzodiazepines are commonly used to treat anxiety, but they should not be used long-term because of their potential for abuse and addiction. The starting dosage for anxiety is 0.5 mg daily in 1–2 divided doses. Based on the response, the dose can be increased to 4 mg daily in divided doses.

Klonopin Dosage for Panic Attacks

Klonopin is FDA-approved to treat panic disorders. The initial dosage is 0.25 mg to be taken by mouth twice daily. The dose may be gradually increased to a maximum of 4 mg total daily. Klonopin should only be used short-term or sparingly to treat panic disorders.

Can You Overdose on Klonopin?

It’s possible to overdose on Klonopin on its own, but the chances of overdose increase when it’s used with other substances. Learning the risks, signs, and symptoms of overdose can help with reducing the risks or recognizing an overdose quickly.

Overdose can occur when someone takes a large dose of Klonopin in a short time or accidentally takes too much. To avoid overdose, Klonopin should only be taken as prescribed by a medical professional. Doses of Klonopin should be increased slowly, giving the body time to adjust.

The misuse or recreational use of Klonopin puts people at risk of overdose. People using Klonopin without a prescription might not know the dose or how it interacts with other substances. Taking too much Klonopin can have a long-term impact on health, and it can be dangerous to use without supervision.

How Much Klonopin is Safe?

It depends on several factors, but a person should never take Klonopin if it hasn’t been prescribed to them, and they should never take more than prescribed. The only appropriate and safe amount is according to the directions from your doctor.

The dose should be slowly increased to manage side effects that can occur with Klonopin, including drowsiness, confusion, sedation and dizziness. Other factors that affect the safety of Klonopin include:

  • How long it has been taken
  • The person’s age
  • Whether they are using other substances
  • Their kidney and liver function

What Is a High Dose of Klonopin?

To treat anxiety and panic disorders, a daily dose of 4 mg is a high dose. Any higher than this puts the person at risk of side effects and overdose. According to clinical trials, dosages higher than 4 mg daily are not more effective at treating anxiety.

For seizure disorders, the highest dose that is still considered safe is 20 mg per day. The “safe” dose for seizures is much higher than for anxiety because seizures can be a medical emergency. Typically, dosages as high as 20 mg are not used daily, so the overall risk of addiction is relatively low when treating seizures.

What is a Low Dose of Klonopin?

The lowest dose of Klonopin is typically a 0.25 mg tablet. However, the oral clonazepam disintegrating tablet (ODT) is available in 0.125 mg and can be split in half to make the smallest oral dosage of Klonopin.

However, even low doses of Klonopin may not be safe for people who have been taking it for long periods. After 40 weeks, a safe dose of Klonopin to stop without withdrawal symptoms is 0.03 mg daily. This dosage is about two times lower than what can be achieved with the lowest available dose on the market.

Klonopin Overdose Symptoms

There are key physical and behavioral signs and symptoms of a Klonopin overdose. If any of these symptoms are present, medical care should be contacted immediately. Since Klonopin is a depressant, overdose can impact basic life functions, including breathing. A number of symptoms can be experienced during a Klonopin overdose, including:

These symptoms are serious and can be life-threatening. Seeking urgent medical care can help reduce lasting effects.

Klonopin Overdose Risk Factors

Certain health conditions can make taking Klonopin extremely risky, even when taken as prescribed. Klonopin affects many systems of the body, and certain health conditions can be adversely affected by taking Klonopin.

For example, Klonopin should be avoided by people with disorders that impact the heart, lungs or breathing, such as asthma. Klonopin does not usually affect breathing, but can in people with pre-existing conditions. People with liver disease can also have a hard time clearing Klonopin from the body, and this can increase the risk of overdose.

Combining Klonopin and alcohol is also extremely dangerous. This combination increases the risk of hospitalization and serious health outcomes such as overdose or death. People with an alcohol use disorder are at increased risk of overdose from Klonopin. There are many possible interactions with Klonopin and other drugs, and the risk of overdose when mixing substances should be taken seriously.

Klonopin Overdose Treatment

There is no specific dose of Klonopin that will lead to an overdose. What is considered a dangerous dose depends on a person’s tolerance and the dose that they take normally. Because of this, it’s difficult to know how much Klonopin can lead to an overdose.

Klonopin overdose treatment can include medication, scans and possible breathing support. The drug flumazenil can be used to reverse the effects of benzodiazepines like clonazepam. However, it should be used with caution in people who are benzodiazepine-dependent because it can cause seizures.

Recovery from overdose is possible, but it can take time, therapy and support. Recovery should be followed by substance use treatment.

Klonopin Overdose Medications

The primary medication for Klonopin overdose is flumazenil. This drug is a benzodiazepine antagonist and works by blocking GABA receptors from attachment by benzodiazepines. It can also knock benzos off the cellular target site to reverse an overdose. It should not be used in people who are dependent on benzodiazepines because it can lead to seizures.

Long-Term Effects of Klonopin Overdose

Generally, benzodiazepines overdoses are not deadly. Long-term effects are rare but can be serious.

Following the initial treatment from an overdose, a patient might experience long-term Klonopin overdose effects. These can be caused by a lack of oxygen due to slow breathing or other physiological changes that come from taking an extremely high dose of Klonopin. Long-term effects of oxygen deprivation can include:

  • Pneumonia
  • Muscle damage
  • Brain damage
  • Permanent disability

Experiencing an overdose can also be a sign that someone is addicted to Klonopin. Klonopin addiction can have long-term, negative impacts on a person’s health, relationships and finances.

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Rehab Treatment for Klonopin Addiction

Avoiding Klonopin overdose requires an understanding of the appropriate dose and extreme caution when using other substances or alcohol. Addiction can make it difficult to stop taking Klonopin, even if the risks are known. Klonopin and other benzos generally have a higher risk of addiction, since people can take more to avoid Klonopin withdrawal.

To effectively manage benzodiazepine addiction, treatment in a facility for substance use is recommended. Addiction centers often have different treatment levels, including outpatient, intensive outpatient (IOP), and inpatient/residential. The level of treatment depends on a person’s needs.

For more severe addictions, medical detox may be necessary as the person navigates withdrawal symptoms. Doing this in a treatment center is more likely to lead to better outcomes because the person is under supervision, with additional medication if needed. Medical detox can also include a taper.

If you or someone you know is living with a Klonopin addiction, The Recovery Village Ridgefield can help. Contact us today to discuss treatment options available for Klonopin addiction.

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