Vista Taos Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment: Uncovering the Long-Term Side Effects of Clonazepam

In this article, we discuss clonazepam long term side effects. We explore the risks, the impact on the body and brain, and ways to mitigate potential harm.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: What is Clonazepam?

Clonazepam is a prescription medication often used to treat seizures, panic disorder, and movement disorders, such as akathisia. There are many clonazepam long term side effects to be aware of while taking the drug.1

Clonazepam belongs to a class of drugs known as benzodiazepines. It works by calming your brain and nerves. It does this by enhancing the effects of a chemical in the body called gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA).2

clonazepam long term side effects

What Is GABA?

GABA is a neurotransmitter chemical in the brain. It helps regulate the activity of nerve cells, calming down the brain and reducing anxiety.3

Clonazepam enhances the effects of GABA. It binds to specific receptors in the brain, increasing the activity caused by GABA. This results in relaxation, sedation, and reduced anxiety. Clonazepam helps boost GABA’s calming influence on the brain.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: How Does Clonazepam Affect the Brain and Body?

Because of its effect on GABA, clonazepam impacts the brain and body. The medication helps to reduce activity in the nervous system, causing a relaxing or calming effect.4

Effects On the Brain

Clonazepam addresses various concerns in the brain and body. These effects can include:

Reducing Seizure Activity

Clonazepam increases the activity of GABA, reducing the communication between nerve cells. This action helps to prevent the excessive electrical nerve activity that may cause seizures.

Calming Anxiety

By enhancing the effects of GABA and reducing brain activity, clonazepam helps to ease feelings of anxiety and panic.

Inducing Sleep

The calming effect of clonazepam can also help induce sleep. This is why it’s also sometimes used for insomnia.

Effects on the Body

Some physical effects of clonazepam on the body include:

Sedative Effects

Clonazepam’s effects on the central nervous system can cause a general slowing of bodily functions. This can lead to drowsiness and decreased coordination.

Muscle Relaxation

By decreasing nerve activity, clonazepam can also lead to muscle relaxation.

Clonazepam Should be Monitored by a Doctor

Clonazepam can be beneficial in treating certain conditions, but it should be used under the guidance of a healthcare provider. This is due to the potential for clonazepam long term side effects and dependency.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: Common Side Effects of Clonazepam

Most medications have some side effects. Clonazepam is no different. Not everyone who takes clonazepam will experience these side effects. However, if they do occur, you may need medical attention.

What Are the Side Effects?

Some of the common side effects of clonazepam can include:5
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Problems with coordination or motor functions
  • Dizziness
  • Depression
  • Memory problems
  • Body aches or chills
  • Slurred speech or difficulty speaking
  • Dry mouth
  • Problems with focus or concentration
  • Trouble sleeping

What to Do If You Experience Side Effects

This is not a comprehensive list, and other side effects can occur. If you notice any side effects, it is important to speak with your healthcare provider.

Some side effects may go away during treatment as your body adjusts to the medicine. However, others can be more serious and may need medical attention. If you experience any of these symptoms, seek medical care immediately.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects

Prolonged use of clonazepam may lead to the risk of developing side effects and other symptoms.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects on the Brain

Prolonged clonazepam use may lead to long-term effects on the brain, including:


With long-term use, the brain can adjust to the presence of clonazepam. This can lead to tolerance. This means that higher doses are needed to achieve the same effect. Tolerance can increase the risk of overdose and other serious side effects.

Dependence and Withdrawal

Chronic use can also lead to dependence. This is a state in which the brain becomes used to functioning with the drug present. Then, when the medication is suddenly stopped, withdrawal symptoms can occur. 

Some withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • In severe cases, seizures

Cognitive Impairment

Serious clonazepam long term side effects can lead to cognitive impairments. This can include difficulties with memory, attention, and decision-making. Some research suggests that these effects may persist even after the medication is stopped.6

Mood Changes

Chronic use of clonazepam can also lead to changes in mood. This can include the potential for increased symptoms of depression and anxiety. Some people may experience mood swings or feelings of agitation.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects on the Body

Prolonged clonazepam use can lead to drowsiness, lack of energy, coordination problems, and slowed reflexes.

In rare cases, it may also lead to significant health issues such as respiratory problems or liver damage. Other long term side effects can include:


Chronic use of clonazepam, especially at high doses, can lead to a state of constant sedation. This can interfere with daily activities and quality of life.

Risk of Falls

The long-term side effects of clonazepam can have a particular effect on older adults. The coordination problems associated with clonazepam long term side effects can increase the risk of falls and injuries.7

What to Consider

It’s important to note that everyone’s body responds differently to medication. These side effects may not occur in everyone. The potential for these side effects often depends on the dosage and the duration of use.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: Risks of Prolonged Clonazepam Use

The most significant risks of prolonged clonazepam use include the potential for dependence and withdrawal, the development of tolerance, and the possibility of cognitive and mental health issues. These risks tend to increase with higher doses and longer durations of use.

Clonazepam must be used under the supervision of a healthcare provider. You should always consult with your doctor about the risks and benefits of any medication.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects on The Body’s Organs and Function

Clonazepam primarily affects the central nervous system. This includes the brain and spinal cord. Clonazepam’s long term side effects have the potential to impact several organ systems and functions, including:

  • Nervous system: Alterations in movement and coordination
  • Psychological health: Mood swings or worsening mental health
  • Respiratory system: Slowed breathing rates
  • Gastrointestinal system: Nausea or constipation
  • Muscular system: Physical weakness and increased risk of injury
  • Liver: Though quite rare, prolonged use can impair liver function

Remember, the potential for clonazepam long term side effects often depends on the dosage and duration of treatment.

Rare Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects

Common clonazepam long term side effects may include drowsiness, coordination problems, and cognitive effects. 

However, there are some lesser-known long term side effects that individuals should be aware of as well, including:8

Changes in Libido

Clonazepam can sometimes cause changes in sexual desire or performance. This might be an increase or decrease in libido.

Vision Changes

Some individuals may experience vision changes, such as blurred or double vision.

Gastrointestinal Issues

While not common, some people may experience chronic gastrointestinal issues. This might include constipation, nausea, or changes in appetite.

Skin Reactions

Some individuals may experience skin reactions. Although rare, there have been reports of individuals developing rashes or hives.

Changes in Weight

Some people may experience weight gain or weight loss when taking clonazepam over the long term.

Psychological Changes

Rarely, people may experience unusual mood or behavior changes. This can include hyperactivity or feelings of agitation.

These side effects are not common, and they do not occur in everyone who takes clonazepam. But it’s important to always consult with a healthcare provider when using clonazepam.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: Potential Risk Factors

Not everyone who uses clonazepam will experience side effects. However, several factors can increase the likelihood or severity of clonazepam long term side effects.

Significant Risk Factors

Some significant risk factors that can increase the severity of clonazepam long-term side effects include:

High Dosages

Higher doses of clonazepam increase the risk of side effects. This includes both the amount taken at each dose and the total daily dosage.

Duration of Use

The longer a person takes clonazepam, the greater their risk of developing clonazepam long term side effects.

Your Body’s Composition

Each person’s body responds to medication differently. This is influenced by factors like age, sex, weight, physical health, genetics, and metabolism.

Use of Other Substances

The use of other substances can increase the risk and severity of side effects. This might include alcohol or other central nervous system depressants. 

Other medications can also interact with clonazepam. This could increase clonazepam long term side effects or alter its effectiveness.

Pre-Existing Health Conditions

Certain health conditions can increase the risk of clonazepam long-term side effects. Some such conditions include liver disease, respiratory conditions, kidney disease, and substance use disorder.

Not Using the Medication as Prescribed

Suddenly stopping clonazepam after long-term use can lead to severe withdrawal symptoms. It’s always recommended to gradually reduce the dose under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Using the medication in a way not prescribed by a healthcare provider can increase the risk and severity of clonazepam long term side effects, including overdose.

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: Clonazepam vs. Other Benzodiazepines

Clonazepam shares many similarities with other benzodiazepines, but also acts differently.

Clonazepam belongs to a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. This class also includes drugs like alprazolam (Xanax), diazepam (Valium), and lorazepam (Ativan).

These medications work in similar ways. They enhance the effects of gamma-aminobutyric acid (GABA). Because of their similar mechanisms of action, the long-term side effects of these medications are also quite similar.

Difference Between Clonazepam and Other Benzodiazepines

One major difference between these drugs is their half-life. Half-life refers to how long a substance stays in the body. Short-acting benzodiazepines like alprazolam (Xanax) are metabolized more quickly.

But long-acting benzodiazepines like clonazepam (Klonopin) and diazepam (Valium) stay in the body longer. This can influence the onset and duration of side effects. The half-life can also influence the risk of dependence and withdrawal symptoms.9

Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects: Strategies to Reduce the Potential for Long Term Side Effects

If you are using clonazepam, it is important to reduce the potential for clonazepam long term side effects. There are various strategies and alternatives that can help reduce the side effects. These strategies include:

Using the Lowest Effective Dose

The lower the dose of clonazepam, the less likely you are to experience clonazepam long-term side effects. Your healthcare provider can help you find the smallest dose that still provides the necessary therapeutic benefits.

Short-Term Use

Whenever possible, it’s best to use clonazepam for short periods. The risk of clonazepam long term side effects increases with long-term use.

Regular Monitoring

Regular check-ins with your healthcare provider can help detect side effects early on. This is important for individuals taking clonazepam over a long period of time.

Gradual Discontinuation

If you and your healthcare provider decide that it’s time to stop using clonazepam, it’s important to do so under the supervision of your provider. This helps to reduce the risk of withdrawal symptoms.

Consider Alternatives

If clonazepam isn’t working well for you or the side effects are interfering with your daily life, talk with your healthcare provider about possible alternatives.

Other types of medications that may be effective for treating anxiety disorders include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs).

Non-medication treatments, like cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), can also be very effective for anxiety and panic disorders.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can help to reduce side effects and enhance the effectiveness of clonazepam. 

To achieve a healthy lifestyle, you may consider incorporating these things into your daily routine:

  • Regular exercise
  • A healthy diet
  • Adequate sleep
  • Avoiding alcohol and other substances that can interfere with the medication

Monitoring Drug Interactions

Make your healthcare provider aware of any other medications you’re taking. This is important because some medications can interact with clonazepam and increase the risk of side effects.

To get the most benefit and decreased risk of clonazepam long term side effects, it’s important to consult your healthcare provider.

clonazepam long term side effects

How Vista Taos Can Help Manage Clonazepam Long Term Side Effects

Vista Taos is a treatment center that specializes in substance use disorder. We provide support to individuals seeking help with clonazepam-related issues. We give you tools to help you regain control of your life.

What We Offer

With our experienced and compassionate staff, we offer a range of services aimed at addressing the challenges associated with clonazepam use. We provide a safe and healing environment for you to overcome your dependence and reduce the potential long-term side effects.

At Vista Taos, we combine evidence-based therapies with holistic approaches to promote your well-being. We focus on your unique needs and aim to restore your mental and physical health. Our center focuses on a whole-person approach.

Begin Your Journey Today

With our expertise, Vista Taos can guide you towards a healthier and more fulfilling life, free from the struggles or symptoms of clonazepam dependence. For the support you need and deserve, call us at (575) 471-2121 or click here to contact-us online.
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