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Is Klonopin A Controlled Substance?

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Richard Foster, LICDC-CS

March 13, 2019

Klonopin is labeled as a controlled substance because it has the potential to be abused. Drug abuse increases the chances of an individual becoming addicted and developing many severe side-effects.

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a Schedule IV controlled substance, which means that it has a low potential for abuse and addiction, but is still considered dangerous.

The Controlled Substances Act was put in place in 1970 to protect the people of the United States from harms caused by drug trafficking. This act was created to prevent the importation, manufacture, possession, and distribution of drugs that have the potential to be abused.

Though some people abuse prescription drugs, many of these drugs are considered safe to use as directed and can be beneficial to health and wellbeing. In an effort to find a balance between mental health and public safety, the U.S. government passed the Controlled Substances Act to categorize drugs of abuse and make clear regulations.

Why Is Klonopin A Controlled Substance?

Klonopin (clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to individuals who suffer from seizures or panic disorders. It works by depressing the central nervous system, slowing brain and body function so that a person can relax and feel a sense of calm.

Many people abuse Klonopin because of its sedative effects. Drug abuse increases a person’s risk of overdose, adverse side effects, and long-term health consequences. It can also lead someone to develop a physical dependence and addiction.

Like many benzodiazepines that are also Schedule IV controlled substances, Klonopin is generally prescribed for short-term use. This is because most individuals develop a tolerance to the drug within a few weeks that requires them to increase their dosage. The higher and more frequent the dose, the greater the risk of physical dependence.

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Klonopin also changes brain structure, which causes addiction, a debilitating mental disease that is very difficult to overcome alone.

Benzodiazepine drugs like Klonopin are involved in thousands of overdose deaths in the United States each year. Many of these deaths are from polysubstance abuse of benzodiazepines (“benzos”) and opioids.

How Are Controlled Substances Classified?

There are five schedules, or classifications, of controlled substances based on the frequency of abuse and likelihood of addiction. They are:

  • Schedule I: drugs with no medical use that have a high abuse potential (heroin, ecstasy)
  • Schedule II: drugs with a high abuse potential, high risk of dependence and addiction, and considered dangerous (Adderall, OxyContin)
  • Schedule III: drugs with “moderate to low” abuse potential, less risk of dependence and addiction (Tylenol 3)
  • Schedule IV: drugs with low abuse potential, low risk of dependence and addiction (Klonopin, Xanax)
  • Schedule V: substances low abuse potential that do not contain much of the active drug (cough medicines with codeine)

Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs For Klonopin

There are currently prescription drug monitoring programs (PMDPs) in 49 states. These programs require physicians to enter prescriptions into a shared database to prevent people from obtaining drugs like Klonopin from multiple doctors (“doctor shopping”).

Unfortunately, the system is not flawless. Not all medical professionals participate in these programs, and some receive incentives from pharmaceutical companies to increase prescriptions.

Still, prescription drug monitoring programs have reduced access to drugs of abuse. PMDPs allow better regulation of controlled substances, which may prevent some people from becoming dependent on Klonopin.

Dangers Of Illegally Obtained Drugs

With the lower availability of prescription drugs, individuals who abuse benzodiazepines like Klonopin may turn to street drugs like heroin. This is especially common among people who have developed an addiction. Illegal drugs on the street are much less safe because they are often laced with toxic substances such as laundry detergent or potent drugs like fentanyl and carfentanil.

Even if a person buys Klonopin tablets on the street, they do not know if they are getting actual clonazepam pills. There have been reports across the country of fentanyl-laced OxyContin pills, fake Xanax bars, and counterfeit Klonopin.

Treatment For Klonopin Abuse And Addiction

If someone is struggling with Klonopin (clonazepam) abuse and addiction, a comprehensive treatment program may be the best option. Many individuals begin abusing Klonopin because it promotes relaxation. A major focus of addiction treatment is finding natural ways to cope with stress rather than substance abuse.

Reputable drug rehab programs use a variety of evidence-based therapies in order to ensure a well-rounded treatment plan. This may include counseling, meditation, yoga, nutrition, and fitness. Some programs offer dual diagnosis treatment, which addresses underlying mental disorders that contribute to addiction.

PDMP TTAC—Prescription Drug Monitoring Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) - http://www.pdmpassist.org/content/prescription-drug-monitoring-frequently-asked-questions-faq

U.S. Department of Justice—Title 21 United States Code (USC) Controlled Substances Act - https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/21cfr/21usc/801.htm

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration—Drug Scheduling - https://www.dea.gov/drug-scheduling

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