Klonopin is the brand name of the benzodiazepine (BZD) clonazepam. Clonazepam is available as a generic drug. However, as with all the BZD’s, they are only legally available by prescription. In the beginning, the pharma marketed it as an epileptic seizure drug. Klonopin is most often prescribed for anxiety disorder and panic disorder. Some doctors prescribe it as a sleep aid. On the other hand, due to its highly addictive properties, they do not recommend it for that purpose.
Klonopin is a highly effective central nervous system depressant.Klonopin, like other benzodiazepines, enhances the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA. This way, you can calm the brain’s activity. For example, when someone experiences a panic attack, the CNS activates. As a result, the sympathetic nervous system goes into fight or flight mode. This comes at a time when that action is not necessary. The fight or flight response calms when the drug targets the parasympathetic nervous system. The neurotransmitter GABA is the target of the drugs like Klonopin. This way they can magnify the calming effect of GABA.
Most of the BZD’s operate in the same way. However, the different types tend to do something a little different than the others. The exact mechanisms of action are still unknown. In some ways, Klonopin seems to have the most effectiveness for small seizures. In addition, they are able to reducing panic attacks.
Xanax is the brand name of another type of BZD called alprazolam. This one is also a central nervous system depressant but works a little differently. They primarily use it for panic disorders and anxiety disorders. Furthermore, there is the added benefit of effectiveness for anxiety disorders with depression. It is also much stronger than Klonopin.
There are two types of Xanax: immediate release and extended release. The immediate release peaks in effectiveness within 1-2 hours. After, it declines in effectiveness over the next 11 depending upon individual physiology. The extended release results in more constant concentrations maintained for 5-11 hours.
Klonopin and Xanax provide relief for anxiety and panic symptoms quickly. Where Klonopin lasts longer in the body, up to 18 hours, Xanax is stronger and lasts up to 11 hours.
Which is better for anxiety and panic symptoms, Klonopin or Xanax?
Benzodiazepines like Klonopin and Xanax provide quick effective symptom relief. Klonopin lasts longer; Xanax is stronger and fast acting. Both are effective, though research shows Xanax to work well with anxiety with comorbid depression. Both are recommended for short-term use due to high risk of physical dependence risk and negative withdrawal symptoms. Overdose increases when used with alcohol, opioids or other depressants.
Klonopin and Xanax can be very effective for managing anxiety and panic. However, long-term use can be dangerous. There is almost a guarantee of potential for physical dependence. Also, the length of use required to become dependent varies by person. There is an ideal clinical recommendation for use of BZD. It is utilizing medication for 4-6 weeks to settle the nervous system. Meanwhile, it will engage in therapeutic treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy. As one learns skills to manage anxiety and panic symptoms, a gradual tapering off BZD can take place. As a result, it will test one’s new skills and weaning off the medication under physician supervision.People often use BZD’s for fun as a substitute for opiates. On the other hand, they may use it in association with withdrawal from opiate misuse disorders. The potential for overdose is high when these two drugs are used in combination. The number of Klonopin and Xanax related overdose deaths in 2015 that did not involve opioids was 1,306. This is according to data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Meanwhile, those BZD related overdose deaths associated with opioids were 7,485. Ten years earlier, those numbers were 655 and 2,429 respectively. To say these drugs, even when taken as a prescription, can be dangerous is an understatement.
Long-term use of Klonopin and Xanax can lead to unpleasant side effects. Some of the long-term health effects are still unknown. Withdrawal symptoms will show up within 1-3 days of discontinuing use. In fact, you can experience this after only one month of daily use.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Anxiety, insomnia
- Sensory hypersensitivity
- Autonomic instability
- Flu-like symptoms,
- Perceptual distortions of oneself or surroundings.
Withdrawal symptoms can last anywhere for 1 month up to 12 months or longer. Of course, it depends upon how long the use has been. Cognitive impairments may not resolve after discontinuance.
Use caution when taking benzo drugs such as Klonopin and Xanax. While there are benefits, prolonged use comes with risks and dangerous side effects. BZD’s are best used short term and in conjunction with behavioral therapy. When it’s time to stop taking the medication, do so under a physician’s care to lessen the withdrawal symptoms.