Klonopin-my doctor says addictive-is this true???

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by VickyB, Jan 28, 2003.

  1. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    I asked my doctor how he felt about Klonopin since it has helped so many people here. He said he did not recommend it because it is addictive. How can an antiseizure medicine be addictive?? Can someone help me with this??
    Thanks, Vicky
  2. Elvira

    Elvira New Member

    I know that some people seem to become addicted to it, but I was on it about 8 or 9 years ago for panic attacks. Stayed on it for a couple of years, then discontinued it. I did not have any problems getting off of this med - no withdrawal symptoms at all, so for me it was not a problem. Maybe it depends on the individual's body chemistry, but I found it to be a very helpful drug.

  3. UmiBear

    UmiBear New Member

    Hi Vicky. Good question. I wish I would have asked it before I went on Klonopin. I'm glad Anita had a good result with Klonopin, and I agree with her that it's different for each individual. First the good news (and this is just my personal experience, nothing else): Klonopin really helps me go to sleep and stay asleep. It also helps me relax and helps a bit with anxiety. I was prescribed Klonopin several years ago for Restless Leg Syndrome, which frequently goes with Fibromyalgia. Anyway, it really does help. Then I started noticing that when I changed doctors or pharmacists for insurance reasons I'd be questioned closely about my Klonopin use, and had to sign forms at the pharmacy because it's a controlled substance. That's when I first suspected that Klonopin might not be like my other Fibro meds. I did some research and found that it can be addicting. So I tried to cut back on it (I only take a .5 mg tablet) with the desire to get off of it and found that I just could not go to sleep without it. Period. No Klonopin, no sleep. This is not good. So I'm still taking it. When I see my doctor for refills he never writes as many refills for the Klonopin because the pharmacy won't accept it with any more than 2 refills before you have to go back to the doctor. All this is a lot of trouble, plus it's a bit distressing. Since I take such a small dosage I'm not too worried about it, but I must admit I've worried whenever my husband changed jobs and we changed insurance about whether I'd be able to get the Klonopin from new doctors/pharmacists. My suggestion is you talk to your doctor about other meds that might help your problem. I also take Amitriptyline for sleep, and it helps. Unfortunately though the combo of Klonopin and Amitriptyline helps me the most. But if I had to do it all over again I think I'd say no to the Klonopin. I hope you find the answers you're looking for.
  4. Bree

    Bree New Member

  5. lisjhn

    lisjhn New Member

    It's an anti-convulsant but also is a benzo like xanax and valium is. I had a friend that was on it and I witnessed her going through the withdrawal symptoms. It was awful. She was taking 4mg. a day though. I've heard getting off of it can be worse than heroin withdrawals, but that's just hear-say......I'm not messing with it.

  6. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    My insurance will pay for the Klonopin, I just wondered why my doctor would say it is addictive. I have never heard this before and wanted to know other people's experience with it. Thanks for the replys to the people that are on the medicine.
  7. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Addictive personalities can become addicted to anything: Sex, shopping, drugs, eating, etc., but the Klonopin itself is not addicting.

    It's unfortunate that even some docs don't understand the difference between physical dependence and addiction. If a diabetic stops taking her insulin, her blood sugar will soar and cause all kinds of physical problems. Would we say she is addicted to her insulin? Of course not.

    Dr. Cheney has written an excellent article on Klonopin and we have it in our library. It explains that many of us are in a constant slight state of seizure which causes inability to sleep, sensory overload, anxiety/panic attacks, and RLS. Klonopin moves one from this seizure state into a normal state.

    If one wants to quit taking the Klonopin, it is necessary to wean off of it very slowly under a doctor's supervision. This is because the patient develops a physical dependency on it, not because it is addictive. This is a very important distinction.

    It is dangerous to have the neurons of the brain misfiring and causing little seizures which, long term, can lead to brain damage. None of us likes to depend physically on medications, but we weigh the risks and the benefits and make our choices. Klonopin has helped me to finally get quality sleep, and greatly diminish my anxiety/panic attacks, tinnitus, and sensory overload.

    I'm not suggesting that Klonopin is the drug for everyone, but I do think we need to make our decisions based on knowledge and not some doctor's misinformation. Read Dr. Cheney's article; it really does a good job of explaining the reasoning behind how Klonopin works.

    Love, Mikie
  8. Annette2

    Annette2 New Member

    Vicky, my suggestion also is to talk to your pharmacist. They can let you know if a medication is "addictive" or not.

  9. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    Thanks to everyone for the replys. I am definetly confused about this medication now but I am glad I asked. I would much rather like to know what everyone here thinks rather than a professional because they do not have first hand knowledge of what a drug does like a person who has actually taken the medicine or knows of some that has taken it. Not that I don't value my doctor's advice.
    Thanks again, Vicky
  10. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    Especially among docs who fear controlled substances. This is also prevalent among many pharmacists, unfortunately. Again, read the article. Dr. Cheney deals with the myth of Klonopin's being addictive.

    If you ask enough docs and pharmacists, sure enough, some will tell you it's addictive. They will also tell you opiods are addictive, but less than one percent of people who have chronic pain become addicted to them.

    There is a huge difference between people who abuse medications and people who use those meds to address a physical condition.

    It is admirable that so many of us are cautious about what we put into our bodies. We should research any treatment we are considering. Unfortunately, there is still a lot of ignorance in the medical field and that makes it difficult to make informed decisions.

    Love, Mikie
  11. catgal

    catgal New Member

    Besides FM/CFS and other ailments, I was diagnosed two years ago with advanced degenerative disc disease (ddd) and restless leg syndrome (RLS). Among my medications, my physician put me on .5mg klonopin at night for the RLS, to help relax my back and reduce muscle spasms, and for sleep. Two weeks ago, I saw a Pain Specialist who also diagnosed me with nerve damage from the top of my neck, down my spine and legs to my feet. He upped my klonopin to 1mg at night and said I would actually benefit more by taking additional small doses of klonopin during the day.

    Overall, I have been on klonopin for two years without any problem. As my medical expenses run me $450 a month (no insurance), sometimes I have had to wait a week or so before being able to get the klonopin refilled, but have never had any withdrawal from it--just problems with sleep and RLS returning.

    However, my girlfriend was on klonopin 1mg 3x's a day for six months, never abused it, and had a horrible time getting off of it, and she does not have an addictive personality. The klonopin helped her alot, but she says she will never go on it again because of the "hell" she went through getting off of it.

    I'm a therapist at a chemical dependency treatment program, and occasionally we get people in for treatment who abused klonopin and became addicted to it--but we also get people in who did not abuse it, but simply took it for a long time and could not get off of it on their own and were sent to treatment by their physicians. And, I see them go through horrendous withdrawals that appear to last for several weeks.

    Medications affect people differently, and as with any medication with potential side affects--you have to weigh the benefits and risks. Plus, you never really know how a medication is going to affect YOU until you try it over a period of time. It is a decision you and your doctor have to make--because as you can see by the variations in posts here--you cannot judge your response by any of ours.

    It has helped me alot, and I have not had a problem with it, but I have seen people who have. Research for yourself, talk with your physician, and make your own decision. Blessings to you, Carol...
  12. layinglow

    layinglow New Member

    After trying many things including benedryl, flexeril, and amitriptyline (elavil) for sleep disorders, I noticed the number of people on this board that had good sucess with klonopin. (The elavil, I had tried had actually dramatically increased restless leg syndrome as well as being ineffective for me.)

    I asked my Doctor, about trying klonopin, and his reply was that it is a drug that often the body builds a tolerance to--requiring the dosage to be upped. This he said was a problem but with workable solutions, and if it benefitted my sleep, nerve pain, and restless leg syndrome, it would be worth giving a try. He would not let me exceed the recommended dosage. If the time occurred then we would carefully cut back, and then gradually re-up, or carefully cut back and try something in it's place for a period of time, and then return.

    I use to have racing brain, and difficulty going to sleep. I could not remain asleep and had 15-20 wake ups a night. I also had sensory overload. I am still on the small dose I started on---.5 mg before bed. I do seldom, take a dose if I am in a situation where sensory overload is a problem.

    I do have noticeable mini seizures, that mikie described, with neurological symptoms that go along with them, if I have attempted and overdone too much--that requires things such as spreadsheets, etc. The symptoms include involuntary movements of my head, trunk, arms, legs, etc., and also small muscle twitching. I, like Mikie believe that these neurological manifestations of FM, are detrimental to us.

    I have so greatly benefitted since starting my klonopin regime. I know treatment in these disorders is very much an individual thing.
    Please do not let someone confuse you with the terms addiction and dependence or tolerance, as it can so limit you, in possible treatments that will benefit you.
    Addiction refers to persons who exhibit drug seeking behavior, and do not follow the mandated regime, using a drug to acheive a high.

    Those using certain types of drugs which cause tolerance and dependence (drug cannot be withdrawn quickly) are quite another case. They are taken to resolve symptoms.

    My doctor told me...you have a chronic, lifelong illness, which will need lifestyle changes, supplements, and drugs, in order to give you the best quality life possible.

    Best wishes,LL
  13. ssMarilyn

    ssMarilyn New Member

    The thing to do is to NOT listen to us, do your own research online, and then make your own decision. I went to several medical sites, and found info on Klonopin addiction. I only ran into two sites that said it wasn't addicting, so guess I would go with the majority....assume it's addictive and leave it alone. I'll paste in below what I found out for you. Read through it and then go do some MORE research on your own, so you know in your mind and heart what the true facts are. The info below is pulled off several sites, not just one.

    Klonopin is the least addictive of the benzodiazepines.

    Abruptly stopping Klonopin can lead to irritability and even to seizures in some cases. Any drug of this class used on
    a regular basis can produce dependence.

    Klonopin is very useful, but also potentially addicting.

    Panic disorder tends to be lifelong;although some patients have episodic problems and not continual anxiety/panic.
    Of the two drugs, you would be better on the zoloft since it is not addicting. However, if you need klonopin so be it. The
    memory loss might be the klonopin and I would try to use the klonopin only occasionally and substitute the zoloft on an every day basis. Consult your doctor for the specific steps. Do not stop the drug "cold turkey".

    Stevie Nicks, the singer for Fleetwood Mac, went through a detox in-stay program that took over 40 days to discontinue her Klonopin addiction. She said it even turned her hair grey and was tougher to quit than her previous cocaine addiction.

    Klonopin may increase the incidence or precipitate the onset of grand mal seizures. Abrupt withdrawal should be avoided.
    Klonopin may produce psychological and physical dependence. Withdrawal symptoms are similar to those of alcohol or
    barbituate withdrawal: convulsions, psychosis,hallucinations, tremors, and abdominal cramps. Addiction-prone individuals
    (drug addicts or alcoholics) should either avoid this medication or be under close, careful surveillance when taking this drug.


    Murat Gemici M.D.
    Klonopin Destroys Lives

    I used to prescribe Klonopin often for my patients. The drug representatives make it sound wonderful: once a day dosing (54 hr half-life), well tolerated, very effective at treating anxiety. What they don't tell you is that it causes rapid tolerance, addiction, and severe post-acute withdrawl upon sudden cessation of the drug. I have seen many good people go through a living hell trying to discontinue this medication. I met a very nice middle aged, successful business man who had to sell his business so he could go to a detox/treatment facility for one year. Very rarely can you successfully taper of this drug in 28 days. Many patients need to taper off over 2-6 months. Some can never taper off the medication because the GABA receptors of the brain have been altered to such an extent that they have permanent changes in the brain's biochemical nature. The reason for the prolonged taper is simply the extremely long half life. Many people are suprised that once they quit the drug, they donot have any withdrawl symptoms for several days. If a patient was taking 20mg per day (I have seen this high of a dose with severe addiction), it would take over three weeks for the body to eliminate 93% of the drug. Even at three weeks he/she would have about a milligram's worth of Klonopin in their system. The withdrawl that I have personally seen are as follows: severe depression, suicide, insomnia, decreased cognitive ability, seizures, tremors, blurry vision, elevated blood pressure and
    pulse, panic attacks, fevers, restlessness, hallucinations, sexual arousal disorders, delusions, illusions, nausea, vomiting......... THE LIST GOES ON AND ON AND ON...... I feel that Klonopin should only be used for short term (<4 weeks) severe anxiety or in terminally ill/hospice patients where addiction and tolerance is not a concern. I hope that your prescribing physician has disclosed this information to you prior to starting you on this medication. If they haven't, I urge you to take the time to make an appointment as soon as possible to discuss if this drug is really appropriate for you. There are many effective alternatives to Klonopin. Anxiety is a crippling disease and I understand that you will do anything not to feel anxious or have panic attacks anymore. Klonopin is very effective for the treatment of anxiety and you might feel that it is a miracle drug.
    However, you might soon develop an even greater problem for yourself than you can ever imagine.....
  14. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    I have to ask you, since you did so much research for me (and I do appreciate it!!) What do you use to help you sleep at night. I am still up and in tears because I know tomorrow I will feel terrible and it will not only affect me but all the members in my family!! So please let me know what can you take that is not addicting when you cannot sleep and you feel sore all over.
    Thanks, Vicky
  15. Elvira

    Elvira New Member

    Hi Vicky,

    I personally am on Trazadone for sleeping. I take 100 mg. and I sleep through the night, where I used to sleep only 3 to 4 hrs. a night before it. This drug is said to be the least addictive of the prescription sleeping medications. If you are going to try a drug-free approach because of fear of dependency, I recommend taking Melatonin or Valerian Root. Both can be found in any health food store, or in vitamin sections of most other stores. They are all natural and non-addictive, however, they are not effective for all people. Good luck to you and I hope you get some good rest soon!

    Take care,
  16. Mikie

    Mikie Moderator

    It isn't so much the amount of sleep we get, but rather the quality of that sleep. Elavil and Flexeril made me very drowsy and I slept for 8-10 hours, but I was as tired upon waking as when I went to bed. In addition, each of these meds put 20 pounds on me very rapidly.

    With the Klonopin, I awaken feeling refreshed despite the studies which say Klonopin interferes with Stage IV sleep. Unless the seizure state can be brought to the normal range, one cannot get good quality sleep as we need to be able to slip into the slight coma stage in order to get good quality sleep.

    This drug may not be for everyone, but I do question all this info about addiction and withdrawal. Yes, withdrawal absolutely must be very slow and under a physician's supervision. But, my God, the size of the dose cited would be enough to make withdrawal a nightmare. This isn't tolerance; it's abuse. Again, the two should not be confused.

    I do not believe tolerance to be a problem because many of us are on the same dose for a prolonged period of time. An abuser would continue to increase the dose and any doc who would prescribe that high a dose is enabling a drug addict. Even the 3 mgs. a day is considered a very high dose. That's twice the recommended dose in Dr. Cheney's article.

    Again, I am not defending this medication or suggesting that anyone take it. We must all make our own decisions, but there is just too much scary misinformation out there and that makes it very difficult.

    Love, Mikie
  17. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    I am beginning to wonder if my doctor thinks that I am an abuser?? I use to be on a narcotic drug before prescribed by my pain specialist. My pain specialist told me not to tell my family practioner about the pain medicine because she would not prescribe anything for the pain. What is up with that, this was years ago but isn't it sad that we have to hide things from uncaring physicians? Plus to top it all off my family doctor did a drug screen on me without me knowing it to confirm that I was lying without asking me straight out. Does any of this make sense?? Maybe this is why I am labeled an abuser now or am I just being paranoid?
    Thanks, Vicky
  18. ssMarilyn

    ssMarilyn New Member

    I don't take anything for sleep because I believe in my heart that I would become dependent. I think I have an addictive personality, because when I smoked, I smoked non-stop, and when I eat chocolate, I eat it non-stop. That tells me that pills might have the same affect on me, so I steer clear. I go a different route for sleep aid. I take nice, long, hot, aromatherapy baths, I read Chicken Soup books, I fall to sleep with Nick at Nite on, etc.... I do "comfort" things for myself, that's the only thing that works. I know this won't work for some, but it clicks with me just fine! I also keep a fan on all night long for the "white noise". I can't sleep in silence!

    Oh, and be SURE you don't eat after 7pm at night, don't drink too much water and don't watch the news or a bad movie!

    Good luck!
    Marilyn :)
  19. ssMarilyn

    ssMarilyn New Member

    Sounds like catgal really has "hands on" experience with this drug, since not only does she take it, but she deals with others that take it. She offers sound advice.

    Again, I can't empathize enough that you should research this yourself on the net, and go with your gut instinct. For sure you don't want to take anything that might add an additional problem to your already too-heavy load!

    Marilyn :)
  20. VickyB

    VickyB New Member

    Are you sure you are not my mom because your advice sounds just like something she would say. I usually relax at night by looking at the messageboard instead of the TV. I am always afraid that I might miss some important information here.
    Thanks for the reply.