Is clonazepam a short or long acting benzo?
Clonazepam is part of a class of drugs known on the street as benzos, downers, nerve pills, or tranks Benzos, or benzodiazepines, is a prescription medication commonly used in a number of medical settings. Most commonly used as anti-anxiety medications, benzos are also used as sedatives, as anticonvulsant medications, and as muscle relaxants. Benzos are relatively safe and well-tolerated in the short term if used as directed by a medical professional. In illicit use, benzo’s are used for their euphoric effect, and to enhance the effect of other drugs, like alcohol and opiates. The combination of benzos with other drugs can be deadly.
Benzo use can be both physically addicting and habit forming. Even when taken as prescribed, long term benzo use can result in physical dependence and withdrawal. When used recreationally benzodiazepines are administered orally, intranasally, or intravenously. They are the most commonly misused pharmaceutical drug in the United States.
Lorazepam (Ativan), clonazepam (Klonopin), alprazolam (Xanax) and diazepam (Valium) are the most commonly prescribed benzos and thus the benzos most frequently encountered on the illicit market. Benzos are classified as short acting, intermediate, or long acting depending on their duration of action. Lorazepam and alprazolam are both short acting. Diazepam is intermediate and clonazepam is a long acting benzo.
Clonazepam is a long acting benzo because it has a slow onset with a peak four hours after ingestion. Clonazepam also has a very long elimination half-life (the time it takes for half of the medication in the system to be eliminated from the body). Its half-life is between 18-20 hours, which is another reason clonazepam is a long acting benzo.
Short acting benzos, like alprazolam, kick in faster and are eliminated from the body more quickly. Some medical experts believe that a short acting benzo is more likely to result in abuse and dependence than a long acting benzo like clonazepam. However, if tolerance (or addiction) does develop, a long acting benzo stays in the system longer, so when you try to quit, withdrawal tends to last longer than with a short acting benzo.
Long term benzo use requires medically supervised withdrawal management, especially when the user has become dependent on a long acting benzo like clonazepam. Whenever possible, benzo use should be tapered slowly. Benzodiazepine withdrawal syndrome can result when a long-term benzo user abruptly stops taking benzos. Symptoms can be severe and include severe antisocial behavior and drug seeking tendencies. Benzo withdrawal has even been known to cause seizures and death in some cases.
Some common benzo withdrawal symptoms include: depression, shaking, appetite loss, muscle twitching, memory loss, motor impairment, nausea, muscle pains, and dizziness. Acute withdrawal symptoms can last up to a few months after stopping benzo use, but about 10% of long term benzo users experience post-acute withdrawal. Post-acute withdrawal can last up to a year after stopping benzo use. Symptoms of post-acute withdrawal are similar to the symptoms of acute withdrawal, but they are less severe. Post-acute withdrawal is more common when the user has been addicted to a long acting benzo like clonazepam.