Rivotril® (generically known as clonazepam) is a benzodiazepine medication that’s often prescribed to people who have epilepsy or some other kind of seizure disorder. Klonopin® is another common brand name for basically the same chemical formula. It is also prescribed for panic disorders.
Rivotril is usually prescribed for short-term use and does not “cure” any underlying medical issues.
In general, this medication is considered safe. Without Rivotril, some people with serious medical issues could die. On the other hand, serious health-related issues can occur for those who abuse this potent drug. Short-term misuse can quickly develop into a long-term problem.1
What Actually Happens in Your Body When Using Rivotril?
Rivotril works by increasing the activity of gamma aminobutyric acid (GABA). This is a chemical that sends signals throughout the nervous system. If there’s not enough GABA in the body, an excited state occurs. This may result in panic attacks or seizures. When taking this drug, more GABA is produced in the body, preventing these crises from occurring.2
The Effects of Rivotril Use Can Occur Almost Immediately
Sedation is a common side effect in people who take benzodiazepines like Rivotril. It can manifest as:
- Impaired coordination
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Memory impairment
- Decreased ability to concentrate3
Possible physical side effects include: an increased heart rate, shortness of breath, headache, abdominal cramping, constipation, frequent urination, diarrhea, muscle spasms, trembling limbs, muscle or joint pain, limited sex drive and sexual performance, and an increased number or intensity of seizures.
Some people have an allergic reaction to this type of drug. It may show up as itching or hives. There may be swelling in the face or hands. There could also be swelling or tingling in the mouth or throat. Chest tightness or difficulty breathing are also possible.The side effects from Rivotril may be severe. However, the feeling of bliss this drug can produce may cause users to ignore the ill effects it produces.4
Some who take this drug for improved sleep may experience strange behaviors. While asleep or not fully awake, they might sleep drive, make phone calls, or prepare or eat food. When awakened, they may have no memory of these events.
Health Concerns Increase with Continued Use
People who abuse Rivotril for long periods of time may find that they need to take a very high dose of the drug in order to experience the same sensation of euphoria they felt with earlier use. In time, they may take doses that are so large that they overwhelm the body’s nervous system. People who overdose might appear to simply be very sleepy. However,once asleep, they may not wake up.
Sadly, Rivotril users might also die trying to get sober. The chemical changes this drug can produce disrupt the signals the brain uses in order to regulate the body’s electrical activity. When the drug is removed abruptly, an electrical firestorm can take hold. Extreme anxiety, insomnia and/or seizures may result. Without professional help, this can prove fatal.5Those who do survive their abuse and “get clean” might experience dramatic personality changes. Rivotril has been associated with a form of emotional blunting. With this condition, people seem to be incapable of expressing a profound emotion. The ability to feel deep happiness and intense sadness are lost. They appear to be emotionally numb. This can cause a great deal of relationship distress.
Other people who abuse Rivotril develop a form of explosive anger, in which they lash out with violence.This can occur over even the most seemingly innocent of circumstances. Such behavior may result in an arrest. These individuals might harm themselves or others. Oftentimes, long-term guilt lies in the wake of their conduct under the influence of this powerful chemical.6
Rivotril may produce emotional dependence, physical dependence and addiction, even if used as prescribed. Consult the doctor concerning an appropriate length of treatment.
Likewise, patients should consult their doctor before ending use of Rivotril. A sudden stop can be dangerous to their health.4 If any strange thoughts or behavior occur while taking this medication, inform the doctor immediately.
Babies of women using Rivotril may be in danger of addiction and possibly deadly withdrawal symptoms. Effective birth control measures should be used while taking this medication. Female patients should notify their doctor if pregnancy is a possibility or if breastfeeding.
It is important that doctors check their patients’ progress at regular visits to see if the medicine is working properly. A change in dose might be appropriate. Blood tests may be needed to check for unwanted effects.2
Mixing Rivotril with Other Drugs Can Prove Disastrous
The FDA says that serious adverse reactions can occur when drugs like Rivotril are combined with opioid medications or other sedating medications. Reactions may include breathing irregularity, coma or death.
Immediate medical attention should be given if users start to show unusual dizziness or lightheadedness, extreme sleepiness, slowed or difficulty breathing, or unresponsiveness.
Avoid drinking alcohol and using illegal drugs while taking Rivotril. They may decrease the benefits (e.g., worsen your condition) and increase the adverse effects (e.g., sedation) of the medication. Alcohol increases the risk of accidental overdose with Rivotril.
Herbs and vitamin supplements may even mix poorly with Rivotril.4
Getting Off Rivotril After Dependence
When patients are on Rivotril for a significant length of time, dependence on the drug can occur.
If this happens, it’s dangerous to stop taking the drug “cold turkey.” Stopping abruptly may produce withdrawal symptoms, including: irritability, nausea, tremor, dizziness, rapid heart rate, blood pressure changes and seizures. It might also bring on convulsions, hallucinations,psychosis or behavioral disorders. Generally speaking, more severe withdrawal symptoms come with greater doses and longer use of a potent chemical, like Rivotril.
To prevent health endangerment, a gradual reduction in dose may be best. The doctor can advise.7
Treatment Options for Rivotril Abuse
Stopping the abuse likely requires a rehab treatment program for Rivotril addiction. But how does a person find one that’s reputable and offers world-class facilities and services?
Michael’s House integrates the services of various medical and mental health teams to help people make the transition to sobriety. We can provide the kind of comprehensive care that treats and begins to bring healing to the “whole person.” Contact Michael’s House anytime – day or night –using our toll-free line to find out more about Rivotril abuse recovery.
1“Prescription Depressant Medications.” NIDA for Teens. National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA). 13 July 2017. Accessed 4 August 2017.
2 “Clonazepam, Oral Tablet.” Healthline, 30 March 2017. Accessed 4 August 2017.
3 “Clonazepam.” MedlinePlus, U.S. National Library of Medicine. 15 June 2017. Accessed 4 August 2017.
4 “Clonazepam.” National Alliance on Mental Illness, Provided by the College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists. October 2016. Accessed 4 August 2017.
5 “Management of Status Epilepticus.” American Family Physician, Volume 68, Issue Number 3, Pages 469-476. 1 August 2003. Accessed 4 August 2017.
6 “Antianxiety Drugs: The Facts about the Effects.” Psychotropic Drug Series, Published by Citizens Commission on Human Rights. 2010. Accessed 4 August 2017.
7 “Clonazepam.” National Institute of Health. Accessed 4 August 2017.
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