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Clonidine Addiction: Side Effects, Detox, Withdrawal, and Treatment

clonidine pills

What is Clonidine?

Clonidine is a type of medication known as an antihypertensive and it is used to treat high blood pressure. It may also be prescribed in combination with other drugs to treat ADHD, anxiety disorders, severe menstrual cramps, and Tourette’s syndrome. Common brand names for clonidine include Catapres, Kapvay, and Nexiclon.

Clonidine is often also prescribed to help with alcohol, nicotine, or opioid withdrawal symptoms. When used in this way, it works to reduce excessive sweating, watery eyes, hot flashes, and anxiety. In some cases, it may also even reduce the total amount of time it takes to detox from opioids.

During detox, clonidine is usually prescribed as a tablet or transdermal patch and is usually administered every few hours for the first day of opioid detox. After that, the dosage and frequency of use are adjusted based on the severity of the client’s withdrawal symptoms.

Clonidine is most often used in an inpatient treatment setting when it is prescribed for opioid detox because it can sometimes cause unwanted side effects like vomiting or constipation. In addition, some people may abuse clonidine or misuse it, which can be life-threatening.

Although clonidine is less addictive than many other drugs and clonidine abuse isn’t very common, it still has the potential to cause dependence and addiction, especially due to its availability and low cost.

About Clonidine Abuse and Addiction

Clonidine abuse and addiction are uncommon, it can happen, especially when clonidine is used in conjunction with other drugs. In fact, most people who abuse it use it with alcohol or other drugs like methadone, heroin, or prescription opioid drugs. Often, they will use clonidine with their drug of choice, as it reduces the amount of the other drug that is necessary to get high and makes the high last longer.

One study found that 80 percent of drug detox programs use medications like clonidine and when used under medical supervision, it is a completely safe prescription drug. However, prolonged misuse of clonidine can cause serious physical dependence and withdrawal symptoms. Some clonidine withdrawal symptoms can even become so severe as to cause death.

Just like the abuse of other prescription drugs like Valium, Sonata, or Adderall can also be dangerous, any misuse of clonidine also comes with negative and sometimes long-lasting consequences.

Side Effects of Clonidine Abuse

If someone uses clonidine regularly or abuses it, he or she may experience the following side effects:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Drowsiness
  • Hot flashes
  • Mood swings
  • Dry mouth
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Constipation
  • Symptoms of a cold
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Rapid or irregular heartbeat

Signs and Symptoms of Clonidine Abuse and Addiction

Someone who has a history of substance abuse or who is detoxing from opioids may have a higher risk of developing clonidine addiction. Some common signs and symptoms of clonidine abuse and addiction include:

  • Taking greater or more frequent doses of clonidine than originally planned.
  • Trying to stop using clonidine but being unable to.
  • Spending a lot of time figuring out how to get more clonidine or abusing it.
  • Having strong urges to use clonidine.
  • Experiencing problems at home, school, or work due to clonidine abuse.
  • Continuing to abuse clonidine despite the risks and the damage it has already caused.
  • Forfeiting hobbies and activities to use clonidine.
  • Needing higher doses of clonidine to achieve the same effects.
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop using clonidine.

Clonidine Detox and Withdrawal

If a person is physically dependent or addicted to clonidine, he or she may experience withdrawal symptoms if they drastically reduce their use of it or try to quit entirely. Common clonidine withdrawal symptoms include:

  • Nervousness
  • Agitation
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Tremors
  • Chronic headaches
  • Insomnia
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • High blood pressure

In some instances, symptoms of clonidine withdrawal can become so severe that they can be life-threatening. Although lingering withdrawal symptoms can be treated with ongoing therapy, they may cause problematic issues if they are left untreated. Additionally, polysubstance abuse (which is common with clonidine abusers) can produce very complex and dangerous withdrawal symptoms. For these reasons, medical detox is often the safest way to detox from clonidine.

Medical detox treatment for clonidine addiction is safer and more effective than detoxing on your own at home. Professional treatment staff provides round-the-clock medical and clinical care to ensure you are comfortable and safe at all times. Medical treatment also reduces your risk for relapse and your care team is available to help you take the next step in your recovery process after detox.

Clonidine Withdrawal Timeline

Clonidine Withdrawal Timeline
12 hours after the last dose: Early withdrawal symptoms begin to appear.
1-7 days after the last dose: Clonidine withdrawal symptoms will increase in intensity throughout the first week of detox, which can sometimes last for several weeks.

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Treatment for Clonidine Addiction

Overcoming clonidine addiction will require several episodes of treatment, including detox, rehab, and aftercare. Research shows the longer a client stays in treatment, the more likely he or she is to sustain a lifestyle of sobriety.

After completing medical detox, many clients choose to continue their addiction treatment with a rehab program. Long-term rehabilitation can be extremely beneficial for people with moderate to severe addictions, as it can help them uncover the cause of their addiction and make positive changes that will help them prevent relapse and sustain lasting sobriety.

It’s normal to feel nervous, unsure, or resistant to rehab, but knowing what to expect can help ease any anxiety. During a rehab program for clonidine addiction, clients work closely with peers and addiction treatment specialists to:

Depending on the rehab center, a treatment program will utilize various treatment methods to achieve the above objectives, such as behavioral therapy, educational lectures, and/or specialized therapies like music therapy, art therapy, or pet therapy.

Inpatient Drug Rehab vs. Outpatient Drug Rehab for Clonidine Addiction

Choosing a rehab center isn’t always easy, as there are many options and types of programs. However, generally speaking, a treatment program will either be an inpatient rehab program or an outpatient rehab program. Each type of rehab provides high-quality treatment for addiction and although neither one is better than the other, there are certain qualities that may make one a better option for you.

Here is a side-by-side comparison of residential treatment programs and outpatient treatment programs.

In residential rehab, clients:

  • Live at the rehab center while in treatment
  • Adhere to a structured treatment schedule
  • Participate in daily therapy sessions
  • Participate in various types of specialized therapies like art therapy, music therapy, or pet therapy
  • Have immediate access to treatment professionals and medical care

In outpatient rehab, clients:

  • Live in a sober living facility, at home, or in another safe, sober environment while they are in rehab
  • Attend outpatient sessions for several weeks of intensive treatment
  • Maintain personal obligations like work, school, or family responsibilities while in treatment
  • Have limited access to treatment professionals and medical care

Whether you determine that a residential program or outpatient program is for you, the cost of the treatment program will vary depending on several factors, including:

  • The location
  • The amenities
  • The treatment services offered
  • Your health insurance coverage and benefits

There are several different options to consider when paying for rehab, such as:

Continued Care Options for Clonidine Addiction Treatment

After rehab, you may continue your treatment for clonidine addiction by enrolling in a continuing care program like sober living or aftercare. These types of programs are designed to help people in early recovery establish a sober support system outside of rehab and gradually transition back into “everyday life.”

Sober Living Programs

Sober living programs are a great resource for anyone who is newly sober and looking for support. Sober living houses may be residential homes or apartment complexes and offer drug-free, safe, and supportive living environments for people in recovery. They are generally gender-specific and provide recovery support services in addition to safe living spaces.

Many sober living homes provide some or all of the following recovery support services, which are particularly advantageous for people who have recently completed rehab or need help getting back on track after a relapse:

  • Regular drug and alcohol testing
  • Education/employment assistance
  • Volunteer placement
  • Family involvement
  • Tiered recovery programming
  • Individual peer-led recovery support

The cost of a sober living home will vary, depending on the type of facility, its amenities, rooming options, its location, and the recovery support services that are offered.

Aftercare Programs

A person may enroll in an aftercare program after completing a residential or outpatient rehab program. Aftercare offers ongoing peer support with regular weekly meetings that are held at a safe and secure location.

Meetings are designed to be a safe place where clients can gather, share life experiences, struggles, and successes, and encourage one another in their pursuit of sustained sobriety. Aftercare isn’t just for people who recently got sober—it’s ideal for anyone who is sober and seeking support during a transitional time in their life.

Clonidine addiction is a treatable condition and you have the ability to overcome it with the right support. Call Nova Recovery Center today to learn more about our addiction treatment services.



  1. https://www.everydayhealth.com/drugs/clonidine
  2. https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/treatment-approaches-drug-addiction
  3. https://www.accessdata.fda.gov/drugsatfda_docs/label/2009/017407s034lbl.pdf
  4. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/report/2017-nsduh-annual-national-report
  5. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK459124/
  6. https://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/drugInfo.cfm?setid=841e761e-5238-4f29-a533-e82d1637201b
  7. https://www.projectknow.com/prescription-drugs/clonidine/
  8. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4227908/
  9. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11433883


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