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Addiction Treatment Medications


Clonidine is used to treat patients with a Benzodiazepine use disorder. It works by blocking sympathetic nervous system activity, reducing the length of the detox process.

Understanding Clonidine

Clonidine is a prescription drug that falls under the category of antihypertensives, which are medications that lower blood pressure by helping blood vessels relax and decreasing chemicals in the blood. It is most commonly prescribed for treating high blood pressure and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) but has been effective in medicated assisted treatment for alcohol and drug addiction. This medication can help with managing withdrawal symptoms, as well as shortening the time of the detox process.

Clonidine reduces uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms by blocking chemicals in the brain that trigger activity of the sympathetic nervous system. This minimizes symptoms such as anxiety, sweating, hot flashes, watery eyes and restlessness. According to research, recovery is best achieved by combining medication with inpatient or outpatient treatment, support groups, and professional counseling.

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Uses Of Clonidine

Clonidine has been used for over 40 years to treat many different health conditions. It is offered in 3 forms: a tablet, a patch, and an injectable solution. However, the injectable version is rarely used for treatment of withdrawal symptoms. This drug requires your blood pressure and pulse to be monitored, making it most effective when used in an inpatient setting so side effects can be observed. Both versions will involve regular check-ins with your doctor or addiction treatment medical provider.

Tablets are usually prescribed to be taken every few hours on the first day, with doses adjusting over the next several days. Clonidine does not relieve all withdrawal symptoms, but it can help relieve some symptoms (such as anxiety, hypertension and restlessness). For some people, using Clonidine, as well as other medications, can better assist in relieving withdrawal symptoms.

Clonidine patches are placed on the skin, typically on the upper, outer arm or upper chest where there is less hair. Once applied, the patch will deliver a constant amount of medication and take about two days to reach a steady state. It is not recommended to take the tablet and patch at the same time but depending on the severity of withdrawals, both may be used during the first few days of detox. Medication is administered through the patch over the course of a week but, if withdrawal symptoms continue, a doctor may recommend staying on the patch longer.

How Does Clonidine Help Addiction Treatment?

Clonidine has been shown to be most effective for patients in withdrawal from Opioids; however, it can also help relieve anxiety, restlessness, and hypertension in patients experiencing withdrawal from Benzos and alcohol. For Opioid addiction, it is used while the body eliminates all Opioid chemicals from its system to then move on to lasting recovery. Clonidine is considered one of the best treatments for an Opioid withdrawal because:

  • It is not a scheduled medication
  • It does not cause the same euphoric effects as Opioids
  • It enables transition to Naltrexone which assists in preventing relapses.

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Side Effects

Clonidine helps many people with managing withdrawals during detox, but like any other drug, it can cause some unwanted side effects. Always notify your doctor if symptoms last longer than normal or become severe.

Common side effects people experience include:

  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation

Other, but more rare side effects include:

  • Hives
  • Swelling
  • Rashes
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Mood swings
  • Breathing problems

It is possible to become addicted or dependent on Clonidine when taken long term or misused. This medication should only be used as prescribed and as a part of a comprehensive treatment program. It’s important not to fall back into old patterns or rebound to a new addiction.

Drug Interactions

Before deciding to take any new medication, talk with your doctor about any medications you are currently on. Some drugs may cause adverse effects when used with Clonidine or it may negatively impact the drugs you are taking.

Some of the drugs known to interact with Clonidine are:

  • Blood pressure medications
  • Heart medications
  • Antidepressants
  • Sleeping pills
  • Anxiety medications
  • Seizure medications

Where To Get Clonidine For Addiction Treatment

Clonidine is only available through prescription, consult your doctor or medical treatment provider about the benefits and potential side effects of taking this medication. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse, Clonidine can help relieve symptoms of withdrawal. Contact a dedicated provider for more rehab-related information related to Clonidine.

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Last Updated:


Ginni Correa

Sources Cited

Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional

Clinical Reviewer

Theresa Parisi