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How Long Does Clonidine Stay in Your System?

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Before you use any prescription medication, you should take the time to educate yourself about its benefits and potential side effects, as well as how often and how long you should take it. In the case of clonidine, other important questions include is the medication addictive, is it dangerous, how quickly does it begin to work, and how long does clonidine stay in your system?

What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine is a prescription medication that is typically used to treat hypertension (high blood pressure). The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has also approved clonidine to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children, to ease the symptoms of withdrawal from certain substances, to help suppress tics that are symptomatic of Tourette’s Syndrome, and to relieve pain related to cancer.

Clonidine is categorized as a sedative and an antihypertensive drug. It is usually taken in tablet form, though it may also be administered via a transdermal patch or by injection.

Clonidine is sold under several brand names, including Catapres, Clonigen, Nexiclon XR, and Kapvay.

How Long Does Clonidine Stay in Your System?

When someone first receives a prescription for clonidine, their initial concerns often relate to how soon they will feel relief from their symptoms. They may also want to know, how long does clonidine stay in your system?

First, let’s address how long it takes for clonidine to start working:

  • Depending on which form of oral clonidine a person takes, they should begin to feel the effects of the medication within one to two hours. The drug typically achieves maximum potency within four hours.
  • If someone receives clonidine via injection, the medication should begin to work within about five minutes, peak within half an hour, and continue to be effective for up to seven hours.

Next, let’s answer the question of how long does clonidine stay in your system: 

  • The average half-life of clonidine is about 7.7 hours (or seven hours and 42 minutes). Half-life is the length of time it takes for 50% of a dose of clonidine to be eliminated from the body. 
  • Most sources say it takes four to five half-lives for a medication to be below the level at which it is still effective. So, to determine how long you will have an effective amount of clonidine in your system, you would multiply 7.7 hours by four or five half-lives.
  • Using these numbers, we can estimate that clonidine will remain in your system for about 30.8-38.5 hours.

This doesn’t mean that your body will contain no detectable traces of clonidine 38 and a half hours after you’ve taken your last dose. It just means that, by that point, there will likely be such a small amount left that it will not have any effect.

It is also important to understand that questions such as “How long does clonidine stay in your system?” don’t have one answer that applies to everyone. Factors such as your body weight, your metabolism, and how efficiently your kidneys are functioning can all influence the time it takes for a medication to be eliminated from your system.

Is Clonidine Dangerous?

When a person uses clonidine as directed by their physician, it can be both safe and beneficial. However, as with all medications, clonidine may produce certain side effects, even when a person follows their doctor’s orders. Common side effects of clonidine include the following:

  • Fatigue
  • Headache
  • Abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Diarrhea
  • Dizziness
  • Constipation
  • Sexual dysfunction

If a person abuses clonidine, either in an attempt to self-medicate or to achieve a recreational high, they may expose themselves to greater harm. Potential negative effects of clonidine abuse include the following:

  • Depression
  • Low blood platelet level
  • Slowed heart rate (bradycardia)
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Heart failure
  • Loss of consciousness

As we will discuss in greater detail in the next section, clonidine abuse can also lead to addiction. 

What Are the Signs of Clonidine Addiction?

The following signs and symptoms may indicate that a person has developed an addiction to clonidine:

  • Developing intense urges to use clonidine
  • Trying to buy or borrow clonidine that has been prescribed to someone else
  • Attempting to acquire clonidine via illicit sources or by making false claims to multiple doctors (a practice that is commonly referred to as “doctor shopping”)
  • Becoming agitated or irritated when they cannot acquire and use clonidine
  • Needing to use larger amounts of clonidine to achieve the desired effects
  • Hiding their clonidine use from friends and family members
  • Having sudden, dramatic changes in energy, mood, and attitude

Untreated clonidine addiction can lead to myriad negative outcomes. It can negatively impact a person’s physical and mental health. It can also cause damage to their relationships and undermine their academic and occupational performance. Chronic compulsive clonidine abuse can even be fatal.

But when a person receives proper care from a reputable provider, they can stop using this drug and learn how to respond to future challenges in a healthy manner, without resorting to clonidine abuse.

Find Clonidine Addiction Treatment in Atlanta, GA

Peachtree Recovery Solutions offers personalized outpatient services for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area who have become addicted to clonidine and other prescription medications. Our center is a highly supportive, nonjudgmental environment where you can take significant steps toward a healthy drug-free future. Visit our admissions page or call us today to learn more or to schedule a free assessment.