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What is Clonazolam?

by Will Long

March 13, 2022
What is Clonazolam?

Imagine blacking out for days with no memory of what you were doing, just persistent brain fog and hazy images of disinhibited behavior. You wake up in your bed with no memory of how you got there, where you’ve been, and 18 missed phone calls. This is what it’s like to take a high dose of clonazolam, a very dangerous and understudied benzodiazepine, a classification of drugs primarily used to treat anxiety.

Clonazolam (known on the street as Clon, Clam, or C-lam) is more than twice as strong as Xanax (alprazolam). First synthesized in 1971, clonazolam is a potent combination of clonazepam and alprazolam, which are approved medications for treatment of panic disorders, insomnia, anxiety and occasionally seizure disorders. However, clonazolam is not FDA approved, and thus illegal to consume. Considered a “designer drug,” is solid through illicit retailers, often online.

Clonazolam Effects

Clonazolam can produce sedative and amnesiatic effects. The drug is usually dosed out via blotter paper since it’s so effective at a microgram level. One other method to accurately measure it is via a method called “volumetric liquid dosing,” which is where you measure by diluting a specific dose in a larger volume of neutral liquid to make dose measuring easier. A benzodiazepine overdose on clonazolam is much easier for individuals that lack experience and understanding of how to use the drug. Once taken, the drug takes between 15 to 30 minutes to take effect, with effects lasting about seven hours in an average adult human.

Risks of Taking Clonazolam

Taking just 0.5 milligrams of Clonazolam can put a person at risk of suffering effects of the drug for several hours. Health risks associated with taking the drug align with the risks that come with taking other potent opioids, like fentanyl. Taking doses higher than 0.5 mg can cause benzodiazepine overdose in some people. The effects include sedation or drowsiness, confusion, slow breathing and loss of consciousness. Long-term use of clonazolam was found to cause altered mental status, hypotension and changes in heart rhythms, according to a recent study. Other risks of taking clonazolam include slower cognitive response and coordination and brain damage.

Legal Status of Clonazolam

Only Minnesota and Virginia have the drug scheduled in the US, and it retains research chemical status in all other states. The effects are generally unstudied on a systematically wide scale. Like other benzodiazepines, sudden discontinuation of this drug can lead to fatal seizures that must be managed through tapered doses.

No dose is considered safe due to the lack of research on the potent substance, and therefore remains a drug that should only be handled by chemists and doctors. Addiction to the substance is very possible and can happen easily; some users have reported compulsive redosing when taking the drug on a recreational basis.

Characteristics of Clonazolam

The specific family of benzos that clonazolam falls in is called triazolobenzodiazepines. These drugs essentially have the same chemical base as benzos, but with the base compound fused with what’s called a “triazole ring.” Triazole rings consist of two carbon atoms and three nitrogen atoms. Clonazolam is also an analogue of clonazepam, which is a similar substance with similar effects.

Clonazolam was first synthesized in 1971, with a paper describing its synthesis published in the November ‘71 issue of the Journal of Medicinal Chemistry by Jackson B. Hester Jr., Allan D. Rudzik, and Bharat V. Kamdar.

Clonazolam Withdrawal

As with any repeated use of benzodiazepine medications, stopping frequent use of clonazolam with professional intervention such as medical detox can be dangerous. The drug can alter the brain’s chemistry, causing the body to behave abnormally. Abruptly stopping use of clonazolam can lead to dramatic shock to the nervous system. Withdrawal symptoms can include:

  • Seizure
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Constipation or diarrhea
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Delusions
  • Anxiety
  • Nightmares
  • Headaches
  • Irritability

Next Steps

If you’re dealing with a benzodiazepine addiction, give Landmark Recovery a call today at 888-448-0302. Landmark Recovery is equipped to deal with any substance use disorder through our evidence-based treatment that walks you through every step of the recovery process.

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About the Author

Will Long

Will Long

A graduate of Middle Tennessee State University, Long has been a writer for Landmark Recovery since 2021. He specializes in research and writing about substance abuse from a scientific and social perspective. Unearthing information from underexplored, far-flung corners of the Internet, Long’s passion is finding emerging trends in substance use and treatment that the public should know about.