Clonidine Addiction Symptoms, Signs & Side Effects

Clonidine is a prescription medication, commonly sold under the brand name Catapres. It is used primarily for the treatment of high blood pressure and is sometimes used to treat symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Clonidine comes in different forms, including a patch, a tablet and an extended-release tablet.

Clonidine is classified as an alpha-agonist hypotensive agent. When someone uses clonidine, it can help decrease their heart rate and relax blood vessels. In doing so, blood can easily flow through the body. In terms of treating ADHD, clonidine can affect areas of the brain that control attention and impulsivity. Common clonidine symptoms can include dry mouth, tiredness, weakness, headache and nausea.

Along with the treatment of high blood pressure and ADHD, clonidine is frequently part of a treatment plan for people going through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol. Clonidine can help many different symptoms of withdrawal.

Side Effects of Clonidine

Clonidine side effects may occur, although they typically dissipate within a few weeks after someone starts taking it. Possible clonidine side effects are:

  •        Dry mouth
  •        Dry eyes
  •        Dizziness
  •        Fatigue
  •        Stomach pain
  •        Sedation
  •        Constipation
  •        Headache
  •        Upper respiratory tract infection
  •        Irritability
  •        Sleep disturbances
  •        Strange dreams or nightmares

Possible serious clonidine side effects are:

  •        A spike in blood pressure followed by a decrease
  •        Changes in heart rate
  •        Dizziness upon standing
  •        Passing out
  •        Slow breathing
  •        Difficulty breathing
  •        Hallucinations
  •        Chest pain

Clonidine side effects can be worsened if the drug is combined with certain substances and medications. For example, taking clonidine with opioids, benzodiazepines or alcohol can cause severe drowsiness or sedation.

Long-Term Side Effects of Clonidine Use

One of the potential long-term side effects of clonidine is dependence. When someone regularly takes clonidine, they can become physically dependent on it. If they were to stop taking clonidine suddenly, withdrawal symptoms could occur. Clonidine withdrawal symptoms can include rapid increases in blood pressure, tremors and headaches.

Long-term treatment with antihypertensive drugs can also lead to other symptoms. These include ongoing drowsiness, dry mouth and constipation. Male impotence can also occur with long-term clonidine or antihypertensive treatment.

Someone using long-term, high doses of clonidine may experience effects on the central nervous system. For example, anxiety, sleep disorders or depression may occur.

Signs of Clonidine Abuse

Clonidine is not a significant drug of abuse. However, this doesn’t mean misuse is not possible. People who show signs of opiate abuse may combine opiates with clonidine to increase the effects. Clonidine is also easier to obtain than opioids, which is why there can be a potential for misuse

Along with increasing the effects of opioids, clonidine can increase the effects of other psychoactive substances like alcohol or benzodiazepines.

Anytime someone uses clonidine without a prescription or outside of a doctor’s instructions, it’s considered misuse. For example, using clonidine only for certain desirable effects or using someone else’s clonidine can be considered signs of abuse.

Clonidine overdose can also occur. Signs of a potential clonidine overdose can include:

  •        Extreme weakness or drowsiness
  •        Decreased heart rate
  •        Problems breathing
  •        Slurred speech
  •        Confusion
  •        Hallucinations
  •        Loss of consciousness

If you or someone you love is showing signs of clonidine abuse, whether on its own or with other drugs such as opioids, the Orlando Recovery Center is here to help. Our admissions team can speak with you about the treatment options available and the different types of programs offered. Contact us and begin the path to recovery today.



MedlinePlus. “Clonidine.” May 15, 2017. Accessed April 25, 2019.

University of Illinois-Chicago, Drug Information Group. “Clonidine, Oral Tablet.” Healthline. April 21, 2015. Accessed April 25, 2019.

College of Psychiatric and Neurologic Pharmacists. “Clonidine (Kapvay and Catapres).” NAMI. January 2016. Accessed April 25, 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.