Benzodiazepines are a type of medication that essentially mimics the effects of alcohol. Not only do benzodiazepines result in approximately the same degree of relaxation as a couple of alcoholic drinks, they utilize the very same chemical pathway as alcohol does to produce their effect. Clonazepam is a type of long-acting benzodiazepine used to treat panic attacks, social phobias and generalized anxiety disorders. In most sufferers, using clonazepam for anxiety is an effective tool for managing their distress and much more productive than self-medicating with alcohol. Due to the similar effects, alcohol should never be used in combination with clonazepam for anxiety under any circumstance.
An anxiety disorder is not simply worry. It is an intrusive mindset of obsessive thoughts or flashbacks, coupled with varying physical symptoms of fear, such as a rapid heart rate, sweating and tension. The efficacy of clonazepam for anxiety disorders and panic attacks has been demonstrated in clinical studies to decrease their incidence and severity. Regular doses of clonazepam for anxiety may help those who take it avoid the mounting discomfort and increasing emotional pressure that culminates in a full-blown panic attack.
Side effects of using clonazepam for anxiety range from a false sense of well-being to difficulties with coordination, walking and speech. Short-term memory may be affected and amnesia has even been reported. Rarely, a rapid deterioration in expressed emotions is noted, with accompanying thoughts of suicide or self-harm. The prescribing physician should be notified immediately of any such changes. Drowsiness is to be expected and headaches, nightmares and gastrointestinal complaints may also be present.
Clonazepam and other benzodiazepines can interact with many different types of drugs, supplements and even food. Patients should inform any new doctor, ophthalmologist or dentist of their prescription. Additionally, patients should avoid taking clonazepam with St. John's Wort, erythromycin, calcium-channel blockers and selective serotonin re-uptake inhibitor (SSRI) medications, among other drugs.
Taken regularly, this benzodiazepine is habit-forming and a physician must supervise patients when stopping the medication. Clonazepam should never be abruptly discontinued if the medication has been taken regularly for longer than six weeks. Rather, a supervised taper program should be instituted wherein the dosage is slowly decreased over a period of many weeks. This form of discontinuing the medication can help avoid the rather unpleasant side effects of stopping the medication cold turkey such as visual hallucinations, uncontrollable shaking, stomach complaints and difficulty sleeping.