Clonidine Abuse and Addiction in Orlando

Though clonidine can be effective in the treatment of opioid and alcohol addiction, it can also be a catalyst for further drug misuse. Understanding how the drug works and the warning signs of clonidine abuse are important to understanding the risks of misuse and knowing when to seek treatment.

What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine is a prescription tablet sold under the brand names Catapres and Kapvay. It is most commonly used to control high blood pressure, but physicians may prescribe clonidine to treat other medical conditions, including:

  • ADHD
  • Hot flashes
  • Migraines
  • Pain
  • Tourette’s syndrome
  • Restless leg syndrome

Clonidine is sometimes prescribed to individuals seeking treatment for opioid and alcohol addiction. The drug increases blood flow, decreases heart rate and blood pressure, and relaxes the part of the brain that controls impulsive behavior. This effect can help regulate a person’s mood, control anxiety, and lessen opioid and alcohol cravings during a detox. However, clonidine is not as effective in managing other symptoms of withdrawal, such as body aches and difficulty sleeping.

Is Clonidine Addictive?

Those who are taking clonidine to control symptoms of withdrawal are at risk for becoming addicted to the drug. Though the United States government does not consider clonidine to have a high potential for misuse, research shows that clonidine addiction may be more common than anticipated. The drug intensifies and prolongs the euphoric effects of opioids, which can result in increased cravings and misuse of clonidine. Prolonged clonidine usage can lead to addiction and overdose.

Clonidine Addiction Statistics

The side effects of clonidine can be severe, especially when the drug is not taken as prescribed. Clonidine misuse may result in:

  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Kidney problems
  • Changes to heart rate

Less severe side effects of clonidine include:  

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Abdominal pain
  • Constipation
  • Headache
  • Weakness
  • Dry mouth
  • Anxiety

While it is unknown how prevalent clonidine misuse may be in the United States, one study concluded that 10 out of 15 individuals seeking treatment for heroin addiction misused clonidine to intensify the effects of the opioid. A person struggling with addiction should be closely monitored by their physician when taking clonidine to look for signs of misuse, including:

  • Prolonged usage
  • Taking more than what’s been prescribed
  • Fear of not being able to obtain more clonidine
  • Seeking clonidine outside of a physician
  • Experiencing symptoms of withdrawal

If you or someone you know live with a substance use disorder, contact The Recovery Village Orlando today. Seeking treatment is the first step toward making a full recovery and living a healthier life.



Yasaei, Rama & Abdolreza, Saadabadi. “Clonidine.” NCBI, February 19, 2019. April 4, 2019.

Dennison, SJ. “Clonidine abuse among opiate addicts.” Psychiatr Q, Summer 2001. April 4, 2019.

Seale, J. Paul; Dittmel, Trent; Sigman, Erika J.; Clemons, Holly; Johnson, J. Aaron. “Combined Abuse of Clonidine and Amitriptyline in a Patient on Buprenorphine Maintenance Treatment.” Journal of Addiction Medicine, November 5, 2014. April 4, 2019.

Medical Disclaimer: Orlando Recovery Center aims to improve the quality of life for people struggling with a substance use or mental health disorder with fact-based content about the nature of behavioral health conditions, treatment options and their related outcomes. We publish material that is researched, cited, edited and reviewed by licensed medical professionals. The information we provide is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. It should not be used in place of the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare provider.