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Is Clonidine Addictive?

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Is clonidine addictive? If a doctor has prescribed this medication to you, this is one of the first questions you should ask before you begin to take it. Other valuable questions to ask include what are the side effects of clonidine, how does this drug interact with other medications, and what should I do if I have a negative reaction? Virtually every prescription medication has both benefits and drawbacks. Take the time to ensure you have all the information you need before you use clonidine or any other medication. 

What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine is a prescription medication that is categorized as an alpha-2-agonist. Other substances in this category include methyldopa, tizanidine, guanfacine, and lofexidine.

In the United States, clonidine is marketed under the trade names Catapres and Kapvay.

This medication can lower a person’s heart rate, reduce their blood pressure, and have an overall calming effect. Clonidine is most commonly prescribed to people who have hypertension or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Other uses for clonidine include alleviating migraines, easing symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome, relieving severe pain due to cancer, and helping people get through opioid withdrawal.

Clonidine is usually taken orally in pill form or absorbed through the skin via a transdermal patch. When it is prescribed to people who are experiencing cancer-related pain, it may also be administered via IV injection.

What Are the Side Effects of Clonidine?

Clonidine use has been associated with both mild and potentially severe side effects.

On the mild side, possible clonidine side effects can include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness and lightheadedness
  • Blurred vision
  • Dry eyes
  • Headache
  • Stomach ache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Constipation

Examples of the more severe side effects of clonidine include:

  • Extreme dizziness
  • Breathing difficulties
  • Irregular heart rate
  • Precipitous drop in blood pressure
  • Blood in urine
  • Loss of consciousness

Is Clonidine Addictive?

Clonidine poses a low risk of abuse and addiction. Is Clonidine addictive? It’s possible that someone could become dependent on this drug, but the likelihood that this will happen is not high.

However, that does not mean that clonidine is a harmless substance. As noted in the previous section, clonidine can cause a variety of negative side effects, even among people who take this medication as directed by their physician. The intentional misuse or abuse of clonidine can increase a person’s risk for severe negative effects.

Also, while clonidine isn’t often abused on its own, some people abuse it in combination with opioids. People who engage in this behavioral do so in an attempt to intensify the effects of their recreational opioid abuse. 

Combining drugs in this manner, which is referred to as polysubstance abuse, is a clearly dangerous behavior that can lead to devastating outcomes. Polysubstance abuse may be a sign of addiction, as it can indicate that the individual has developed tolerance to opioids, and needs to combine them with clonidine in order to achieve the effects they are seeking.

So, to summarize: Is clonidine addictive? Yes, it can be, but this is a rare outcome. Is clonidine abuse dangerous? Absolutely.

How Is Clonidine Abuse Treated?

Someone who engages in polysubstance abuse involving clonidine should be assessed by an addiction treatment professional. If their clonidine abuse is related to an addiction to alcohol, opioids, or other prescription medications, an assessment and an accurate diagnosis can be two vital steps on the path toward treatment and recovery.

Treatment for substance use disorders (addictions) can take many forms. Depending on which drug a person has become dependent upon, they may need to begin with detoxification, or detox. This is a short-term program that can help them get through withdrawal safely.

Following detox, many people transition into a partial hospitalization program, or a PHP. This level of care can also be a good starting place for individuals who don’t need detox. 

In a PHP, patients usually take part in about six hours of treatment per day, five days per week. In the evenings and on days when the PHP isn’t in session, patients can return to their homes or to alternative supported residences. Group therapy is usually one of the main methods of care in PHPs, with a variety of other therapies and services incorporated into treatment as needed. 

The next level of care below a PHP is an intensive outpatient program, or an IOP. IOPs usually offer about three hours of care per day, two to five days per week. IOPs can be ideal environments for those who need step-down support after completing a PHP. Individuals whose needs aren’t severe enough to warrant full days of care may also enter treatment directly at the IOP level.

Finally, a traditional outpatient program, or an OP, offers maximum scheduling flexibility while still connecting you with structured clinical services. In an OP, patients may attend treatment on a weekly or monthly basis, or on whatever other frequency is right for them. Continued participation in an OP can be an essential component of a person’s long-term recovery support plan.

Begin Addiction Treatment in Atlanta

Peachtree Recovery Solutions is a premier provider of comprehensive outpatient addiction services for adults in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. In addition to offering customized care at the PHP, IOP, and OP levels, we also offer specialized gender-specific programming for men and women. 

If you have become dependent upon clonidine, opiates, or any other addictive substances, our team can help you find the path toward a healthier drug-free future. To learn more or to schedule a free assessment, please visit our Contact Us page or call our center today.