Klonopin is a prescription medication used to help people with panic disorders and/or seizure disorders, says the National Alliance on Mental Illness. These are very serious disorders that can impact almost every part of a person’s life. Some teens have these disorders and have a valid need for the drug. However, medications like this aren’t always considered the best treatment for teens with mental illnesses. For some teens, therapy might be a better choice. In therapy, teens have the opportunity to explore unusual modes of thinking and come up with solutions that don’t involve drugs. But it’s not at all unusual for medical teams to provide very young people with drugs, even if those drugs aren’t specifically made for children.
For example, a study in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that Food and Drug guidelines restrict the use of anti-psychotic medications in people younger than 18, but tens of thousands of youths end with prescriptions for these medications. An environment like this, in which medications are pervasive, is ideal for a blossoming addiction. Teens become convinced that prescription medications are safe, simply because they’re readily available. In time, teens can take great amounts of these drugs in the mistaken belief that they cause no harm. They just can’t see it.
Unfortunately, Klonopin can be remarkably destructive. The Stanford School of Medicine suggests that the drug can be habit-forming in as little as two weeks, meaning that teens with a blossoming habit can become hooked on the medication long before they’re aware that there’s danger brewing. When teens develop these addictions, they can find it difficult to stop the abuse without help.
Klonopin dampens electrical activity inside the cells of the brain, and when the drug is removed rapidly and those sedated cells awaken, a number of serious side effects can take hold, including:
Teens who try to quit can become convinced that getting sober means feeling ill and perhaps dying. They can refuse to even attempt to overcome an addiction due to the experience they’ve lived through. That can keep them using when they should quit.
Thankfully, getting sober doesn’t have to mean feeling ill. In a structured detox program, treatment teams use a tapering schedule to help teens avoid some of the negative side effects associated with sobriety. Every day, they take a smaller dose of Klonopin or an equivalent benzodiazepine medication, allowing the brain to adjust to the new level of activity in manageable chunks. At the same time, teens have access to safe and sober spaces that don’t allow recreational drug use. Teens can really relax here, safe in the knowledge that they have the support and expertise they need in order to recover.
Teens with addictions can also develop what one expert quoted in Psychology Today calls an unreasonable expectation about what benzodiazepines can do. As this expert puts it, people with a history of abuse of drugs like Klonopin become convinced that they need the drug anytime they’re feeling even the smallest hint of stress. They’ve always used the drug to soothe stress, so they’ve forgotten about all the other things they can do when nervousness hits. That’s why therapy is so vital for teens with a history of Klonopin abuse. It’s here that they have the opportunity to examine why they use the drug and what they could do instead of taking Klonopin when the urge strikes.
For example, teens accustomed to Klonopin may struggle with feelings of nervousness in social situations. Klonopin seems to smooth the edges and soothe the worry, so these teens can head to parties with peers without worrying about saying something silly or doing something unusual. The drug seems to give them confidence. In therapy, teens might learn to use a variety of different natural techniques to bring about this same sensation of confidence. Instead of taking Klonopin, they might practice some positive self-talk before they walk through the doors of a party. They might meditate quickly and quietly in the bathroom of the party if they feel a rising sensation of unease. Or they might learn to talk about their feelings with friends, so they won’t feel the need to stuff those sensations down when they arise.
All of these skills may not come naturally to kids with a Klonopin addiction, mainly because they’re accustomed to leaning on drugs to handle feelings rather that tackling the issue directly. In counseling, teens have the opportunity to work with expert coaches and supportive adults who can give them the space and direction they need to build these skills. Teens who emerge from these programs may no longer have a Klonopin addiction issue, but they may have a raised awareness about substance abuse as a whole. That can help these teens to avoid dangerous habits that might strike their peers. As a result, these teens may not grow up to be recreational drinkers, habitual marijuana users, or mushroom hunters. The lessons they picked up in rehab can resonate, and that can translate into a much healthier life all around.
It’s not easy to admit to a Klonopin addiction, but those teens who do can get remarkably better. Next Generation Village can help. The treatment programs at Next Generation Village are specifically designed with teens in mind, and the results can be transformative. Counseling, medications, alternative therapy, and recreational therapy can all be part of a teen’s treatment package, and the program can be held on an acute or outpatient basis.
Just call the number at the top of the page to find out more about how Next Generation Village can help.