Clonazolam vs Clonazepam – Comparison of Uses & Side Effects

Clonazolam

Clonazolam is a novel depressant substance of the benzodiazepine chemical class. It works by interacting with a specific subset of GABA-A receptors in the brain. This increases the activity of the neurotransmitter – GABA.

This medication was first synthesized in the early 1970’s by scientists at The Upjohn Company.

Uses

Due to its sedating and relaxing effects, this drug is a very effective relaxant. Also, it is used to treat epilepsy but can also be used to support people who have sleep issues.

Dosage

Strong – 400 – 500 μg (0.4 – 0.5 mg)
Common – 250 – 400 μg (0.25 – 0.4 mg)
Light – 100 – 250 μg (0.1 – 0.25 mg)

Its effects last for about 10 hours. Full tolerance is reached within a couple of days of continuous use.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • lack of inhibition;
  • possible suicidal tendencies;
  • depression;
  • fatigue;
  • dizziness;
  • irritability;
  • weakness;
  • confusion;
  • amnesia;
  • disorientation.

Rare side effects may include:

  • vertigo;
  • blood disorders;
  • increased anxiety;
  • impaired cognition;
  • increased heart rate;
  • dream potentiation;
  • motivation suppression;
  • delusions;
  • increased libido;
  • thought deceleration.

Addiction

Some people may experience mild euphoria after taking this benzodiazepine. This sensation is extremely rewarding and pleasurable for the user.

This is why this drug has a high rate of dependence. Actually, approximately fifty percent of people prescribed are getting addicted to it.

Additionally, the best way to avoid withdrawal symptoms is by reducing the dose gradually preferably under your doctor’s supervision.

Alcohol

Do not consume alcohol while taking this drug since alcohol increases the activity of the inhibitory neurotransmitter gamma-aminobutyric acid and decreases the activity of excitatory neurotransmitters, like – NMDA.

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Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with other medications, especially:

  • muscle relaxants, sedatives, and drugs used for sleep;
  • monoamine oxidase inhibitors;
  • drugs used to treat fungal infections, such as – ketoconazole (Nizoral);
  • phenothiazines (drugs used for severe mental illness);
  • butatrans;
  • anti-seizure drugs, such as – phenytoin (Dilantin) and valproic acid (Depakene);
  • some heart medications, like – metoprolol (Lopressor) and digoxin (Lanoxin);
  • drugs used to treat Parkinson’s disease, such as – levodopa (Larodopa, Sinemet);
  • drugs used to treat heartburn, such as – ranitidine (Zantac) and cimetidine (Tagamet);
  • narcotic pain medications and barbiturates;
  • cough and cold drugs which contain antihistamines;
  • drugs used for anxiety, such as – fluoxetine (Prozac).

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

Before taking this medication, tell your healthcare provider if you are pregnant since it is not safe to use during pregnancy. Also, it passes into breast milk and negatively affects the infant, therefore, you should not breastfeed while on this drug.

Clonazepam                     

It is the generic name of a brand medication called Klonopin, a type of medicine called a benzodiazepine. It acts on nerve cells in the brain.

The US Food and Drug Administration originally approved it in 1975 for the Roche drug company.

Uses

This benzodiazepine is used for the treatment of:

  • posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD);
  • anxiety disorders;
  • mania;
  • social phobia;
  • epilepsy;
  • panic disorders.

Dosage

The usual recommended dose for panic disorder is 1.0 mg a day. Also, the medication is usually used in conjunction with fluoxetine.

The maximum recommended dose is 4 mg per day.

Side Effects and Precautions

Common side effects may include:

  • increased saliva;
  • dizziness;
  • loss of interest in sex;
  • confusion;
  • memory loss;
  • muscle aches;
  • nervousness;
  • frequent urination;
  • constipation;
  • blurred vision;
  • decreased appetite;
  • upper respiratory congestion or infection;
  • depression;
  • fatigue.
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Rare side effects may include:

  • chest pain;
  • severe rash or hives;
  • impaired motor function;
  • trouble breathing;
  • psychosis;
  • swelling of the lips, face, or tongue;
  • worsening depression;
  • mental confusion;
  • seizures;
  • personality changes;
  • liver damage;
  • thoughts of suicide;
  • aggression;
  • impulsivity and reckless behavior;
  • lack of motivation.

Addiction

Unlike other similar medications, clonazepam is less likely to promote long-term dependency.

However, when a person stops taking this medication abruptly, some withdrawal symptoms may occur. Therefore, the medication should be gradually discontinued by decreasing the dose by 0.125 mg every three days.

Drug Interactions

It may negatively interact with many other medications which work in your brain and nervous system, including:

  • muscle relaxants;
  • anti-anxiety medications;
  • eligard;
  • drugs to treat depression, including tricyclic antidepressants, monoamine oxidase inhibitors, and certain selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors;
  • narcotic pain medications;
  • drugs used to treat seizures, such as – phenobarbital (Luminal, Solfoton), carbamazepine (Tegretol), and phenytoin (Dilantin);
  • the irregular heartbeat drug amiodarone (Cordarone, Pacerone);
  • drugs used to treat mental illness, such as – thioxanthenes, phenothiazines, and butyrophenones;
  • St. John’s Wort;
  • sleeping pills;
  • temazepam;
  • cimetidine (Tagamet);
  • drugs used to treat fungal infections, such as – ketoconazole (Nizoral) and itraconazole (Sporanox);
  • HIV/AIDS medications, such as – nelfinavir (Viracept), indinavir (Crixivan), and ritonavir (Norvir, Kaletra);
  • calcium channel blockers, like – verapamil (Calan, Isoptin, Verelan) and diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor, Tiazac);
  • certain antibiotics, like – erythromycin (Erythrocin) and clarithromycin (Biaxin, Prevpac).

Pregnancy & Breastfeeding

This drug is not safe to take while breastfeeding a baby. Hence, talk to your healthcare provider about other options if you are breastfeeding.

Additionally, it is dangerous to take during pregnancy since there is strong evidence that this medication may increase the risk for birth defects.

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Bottom Line – Clonazolam vs Clonazepam

Clonazolam is a drug that belongs to the benzodiazepine class. These drugs are a class of psychoactive drugs which affect the neurotransmitter called gamma-aminobutyric acid. It is a drug with rapid onset of action and symptomatic relaxation. Its onset reaction takes about 20 to 60 minutes.

Clonazepam (brand name – Klonopin) is a drug that works by acting on receptors in the brain called GABA receptors. Gamma-aminobutyric acid is involved in transmitting messages between the nerve cells and acts as a natural nerve-calming agent. Unlike other benzodiazepines, this medication may trigger depressive episodes in people with a previous history of depression.

According to studies, clonazepam can be better used in functional situations, while clonazolam appears to be more sedating and more likely to produce recreational effects.

References

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27685473
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27121429
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4857865/

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