Understanding Clonidine

Clonidine belongs to a class of medicines known as Antihypertensives. It is frequently prescribed to help with the symptoms of Opioid withdrawal.

Clonidine works by blocking chemicals in the brain that trigger sympathetic nervous system activity. This reduces uncomfortable symptoms of Opioid detoxification, such as sweating, hot flashes, watery eyes, and restlessness. Additionally, Clonidine has been known to help lower anxiety and may even cut time off the detox process.

Clonidine can help reduce symptoms of Opioid withdrawal, but it is not a cure for Opioid addiction by itself.

Medication offers the highest chance of recovery when used in combination with inpatient or outpatient treatment, support groups and professional counseling. Most licensed treatment facilities will offer a recovery plan that includes multiple facets of treatment.

Uses Of Clonidine

Compared to other treatments for an Opioid withdrawal, several advantages of Clonidine include:

  • It is not a scheduled medication.
  • You can stop using Opioids immediately to prepare for Naltrexone induction which will assist in preventing relapses.
  • It does not produce the same euphoria as Opioids, meaning your need for drugs is reduced.

In the case of alcohol dependence, Clonidine is typically combined with Benzodiazepine Tranquilizers such as Librium, Valium, or Xanax.

The science is clear: Medication-assisted treatment works. There is no easy way.

- Paul Coleman, president and CEO at Maryhaven

How Does Clonidine Help Addiction Treatment?

The thought of intense drug cravings and uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms can be intimidating for people with an Opioid addiction. Some even start treatment but quickly fall back into old habits at the first signs of withdrawal.

When taking Clonidine, however, you are able to better tolerate any withdrawal symptoms you may experience. The medication helps make the process easier to get through, ultimately increasing the chances of continuing past the detoxification stage. After successfully eliminating Opioids from your system, you can move on to lasting recovery.

Medication helps you break free from the ‘hijacking of the brain’ caused by Opioids…There’s no wrong door to recovery. This is a highly deadly disease. We need to offer everything that works and not try to dictate the precise recipe for every individual.

- Dr. Alexander Walley, director of Addiction Medicine at Boston Medical Center

How Is Clonidine Administered?

Clonidine is offered in 2 forms: a tablet and a patch. Your doctor should be able to determine which will be included in your treatment plan.

Clonidine in a tablet form is usually given every few hours on your first day of taking the medicine. Over the next several days, your doses may adjust depending on the withdrawal symptoms you are experiencing. By the end of the week, any signs of withdrawal from your Opioid addiction will start to subside. Once this happens, you’ll be tapered off of your Clonidine doses until it’s no longer needed.

A treatment program using a Clonidine patch will require it to be placed on your skin, generally an area with little hair such as the upper outer arm or upper chest. After it’s applied on the body, the patch will deliver a constant amount of medication. To accommodate different body sizes, each patch is offered with varying strengths of Clonidine. It will take approximately 2 days for the patch to reach a steady state, so the first couple days of detoxification may entail using the patch and taking a tablet. Medication will be administered over a period of 7 days through the patch; however, if withdrawal symptoms continue, your doctor may recommend staying on the patch longer.

It will take roughly 7 days to complete the entire detoxification process while on Clonidine.

Both the tablet and patch versions of Clonidine require check-ins with your doctor frequently to have your blood pressure and pulse monitored. Because of this, it’s most effective when used in an inpatient setting so side effects can be observed under close supervision.

Side Effects Of Clonidine

Although Clonidine helps many people through the Opioid detoxification process, it can sometimes lead to unwanted effects. It’s important to notify your doctor if symptoms last longer than they should or become severe.

Some of the side effects you may experience from taking Clonidine include:

  • Vomiting
  • Weakness
  • Headache
  • Constipation

Rarer side effects of Clonidine include:

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

Some individuals have also become either addicted to or dependent on Clonidine. It’s often looked at as an appealing drug due to its low cost and availability. It’s important to use Clonidine as part of a comprehensive treatment program. This helps ensure you don’t fall back into old patterns or rebound to a new addiction.

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Clonidine Interactions

Some drugs may cause adverse effects when used with Clonidine. Clonidine can also negatively impact some of the drugs you may currently be taking.

Before Clonidine is administered, talk with your doctor about any medications you are on. Some of the drugs known to interact with Clonidine include:

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

Many drugs can cause adverse effects when taken together. Always check with your healthcare provider about possible interactions between medications.

Where Is Clonidine Available?

A prescription is needed to obtain Clonidine. Consult your doctor about proper dosing information, potential harmful side effects, and frequency before taking Clonidine.

Clonidine has been around for more than 40 years and has many uses for different health conditions. Along with treating Opioid withdrawal symptoms, it is also commonly used for:

  • Migraine
  • Diarrhea
  • Pain conditions
  • High blood pressure
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Anxiety disorders

If you or someone you care about is struggling with an Opioid addiction, Clonidine can help minimize the withdrawal symptoms from quitting.

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Clonidine Statistics



Medications are used in nearly 80% of detoxifications in treatment facilities.



The detoxification stage lasts approximately 7 days while taking Clonidine.



There are 4 treatment steps to sobriety: intake, detoxification, rehabilitation, and ongoing recovery.

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Learn More About Clonidine Addiction Treatment

If you are interested in investigating the possible benefits of Clonidine in treating your substance use disorder, or that of a loved one, the time to start is now. Contact a treatment provider today to talk about available rehab options.



Jeffrey Juergens

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  • Jeffrey Juergens earned his Bachelor’s and Juris Doctor from the University of Florida. Jeffrey’s desire to help others led him to focus on economic and social development and policy making. After graduation, he decided to pursue his passion of writing and editing. Jeffrey’s mission is to educate and inform the public on addiction issues and help those in need of treatment find the best option for them.

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Reviewed by Certified Addiction Professional:

David Hampton

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  • A survivor of addiction himself, David Hampton is a Certified Professional Recovery Coach (CPRC) and a member of the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselors (NAADAC).

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