Klonopin is “Bad” and YOU are “Bad” for Even Thinking About It

Kelly writes in . . .

I have been on Klonopin .5 mg/day for 6 years. I was initially prescribed this benzo for post-partum anxiety I experienced with my daughter. I have tried many times over the past few years to be weened off and could not function with my anxiety level. I found a new psychiatrist recently who decided on a very slow tapering till I am completely benzo free. We’ll see how it goes…

I would like to say that the stigma associated with klonopin is mind blowing. I also have a new GP who I told about my RX. I felt like his demeanor completely changed after I told him about being prescribed klonopin. Instead of asking if I was employed, he said “you’re not employed right?” He made me feel like I was this nutjob roaming the streets looking for my next high, when actually I am employed in law enforcement. Which my psychiatrist also made a comment about…he said he was sure my employer would not appreciate the fact I was on a controlled substance. I told him actually my employer is aware of this and has no problem with it.

These reactions from DOCTORS make me feel like there is something so terribly wrong with me. I have NEVER EVER abused my prescription and hate that I have to take it. There is nothing worse than making someone with anxiety feel mentally ill.

Kelly–I, too, have a problem with overly judgmental “I Know Who You Are And What Your Problem Is” type of docs.  None of the medicines I prescribe (including Klonopin) is a “bad” medicine.  The people who benefit from the medicines are not “bad” people.  They are people who have a problem that need our professional help.  The attitude that you experienced is not unusual, unfortunately.  Your issue with anxiety is an issue with anxiety.  One option is to confront the docs who appear to be making these judgments about you.  You could ask them if they understand anxiety.  If they have ever used Klonopin successfully to treat someone with anxiety.  If they have not, they are not the docs that should be in control of your prescriptions.  Assuming that you MUST be weaned off the Klonopin is not necessarily a clinical decision regarding the treatment of your anxiety.  It might be a judgment of the Klonopin as “bad” and something that MUST be removed.  I am concerned that you have not faired well with previous tapers.  The past does tend to predict the future, and unless there is something dramatically different with you or your life circumstance, the likelihood is that you will become anxious again as the Klonopin is withdrawn.  It doesn’t mean you are an addict.  It doesn’t mean you are bad.  It doesn’t mean that you have a “problem” with prescription medicine.  It means that you are an anxious person.

There is (obviously) nothing about being on Klonopin that prevents you from doing your job.  Being overly anxious might.  I would think long and hard before consenting to an unwanted decrease in the medicine that has been consistently helpful for you.  I would have as long and in depth a conversation as you can with your (probably overworked) psychiatrist about weaning you off the Klonopin.  You sound like a knowledgable person who knows yourself.  If your doc feels strongly about his clinical opinion, he should be able to convince you of it.  If he is unable to convince you of his opinion, then either you are unreasonable . . . or his opinion is wrong for you. It doesn’t mean that either of you is wrong or bad.   If your needs and expectations don’t jive with your doc’s . . . get a new doc.

Dan Hartman, MD

1 comment to Klonopin is “Bad” and YOU are “Bad” for Even Thinking About It

  • LMR

    Kelly, I feel for you. We are in a similar situation. My husband is a business owner and was medically prescribed Klonopin (4mg/day for 6 years) and various other prescriptions (Ambien, Soma) to help him sleep and help with his anxiety and assit in the treatment of his fibromyalgia. He has only ever taken the medicines prescribed to him, as prescribed. Over the past year his anxiety has become unmanageable: resting rapid heart of 120 bpm for hours, adreneline rushes, nausea, high cortisol, etc. He believes that these symptoms may be related to the long term use of the medicines and has decided he wants to begin a SLOW withdrawal. It is hard to find the right support network that isn’t treating him like he’s “bad” or an abuser… instead, as someone who was following directions and wants to come off of a prescription that is difficult. We recognize there are underlying anxiety issues as well that need to be treated, but right now his focus is only on the Klonopin….and his anxiety is mostly centered on the Klonopin, and process of withdrawal.
    I am so sad that society and even medical professionals don’t think about the person without jumping to a conclusion about why they are on a drug or why they want to come off. Best of luck, in whatever you choose.