Clonidine is a prescription medication commonly sold under the brand name Catapres. It is used primarily for high blood pressure treatment and is sometimes used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) symptoms. Clonidine comes in different forms, including a patch, an immediate-release 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, allowing blood to easily flow through the body. In terms of treating ADHD, clonidine can affect areas of the brain that control attention and impulsivity. In addition, clonidine is frequently used in treatment plans for people going through withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.
Although clonidine is a helpful drug, it can create a number of uncomfortable and potentially dangerous side effects. If you or someone you love is taking clonidine, it’s important to understand the different side effects and risks related to this medication.
Clonidine Brand Names
Clonidine is available in a variety of brand names. Each brand name refers to a different formulation of the product, but each of these brands contains clonidine as the active ingredient. Clonidine brand names include:
- Catapres-TTS (weekly patch)
- Duraclon (epidural)
- Nexiclon XR
Forms of Clonidine
Clonidine is available in a variety of dosage forms, and some forms are more useful for treating certain conditions. The immediate-release oral formulation is available as Catapres. The extended-release formulations are Kapvay (12-hour) and Nexiclon XR (24 hours). A person who has been stabilized on the oral formulation may be converted to the weekly patch, Catapres-TTS.
Clonidine is also available for injection directly into the spine. This formulation, available under the brand name Duraclon, is only found in the hospital and is given via epidural injection.
Once someone has found an appropriate daily maintenance dose of oral clonidine, their doctor may convert them to a clonidine patch. The clonidine patch (Catapres-TTS) is a weekly patch that is used for seven days at a time. This formulation is useful for the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension) and opioid withdrawal.
When you are converted from oral treatment to a patch, your doctor will overlap oral and patch treatment to make sure your clonidine levels do not get too low. The patch takes approximately three days to start working, which is why an overlap with oral tablets is needed.
Oral tablets are the most common formulation of clonidine. This form can be used to treat:
- High blood pressure
- Opioid withdrawal
- Symptoms of menopause
- Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (children only)
- Tourette syndrome (children only)
The oral tablet should be dosed twice daily. Do not stop taking this medication without speaking to your doctor, as quitting without medical guidance can cause rebound high blood pressure.
Clonidine Side Effects
Every prescription medication has the potential for side effects. The human body is complicated, and when a person uses a drug to treat certain conditions, the drug will often affect unintended parts of the body and lead to side effects.
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.
Clonidine side effects can occur, but they typically dissipate within a few weeks after someone starts taking the medication. Possible clonidine side effects are:
Common side effects are usually mild and will go away on their own. Talk with your health care team if you have side effects that impact your daily life or do not go away.
The clonidine patch can create the same side effects as oral clonidine. In addition, the patch can affect the skin where it is placed, creating potential side effects that include:
- Burning sensation
- Contact dermatitis
- Localized blanching
- Localized swelling
- Skin rash
Some clonidine side effects are rare. These side effects usually go away on their own but can include:
- Decreased sexual ability
- Dry mouth
- Restless sleep
- Trouble sleeping
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. Male impotence can also occur with long-term clonidine or antihypertensive treatment.
Serious clonidine side effects can include:
- Difficulty swallowing or breathing
- Rebound hypertension
- Slowed heart rate
- Swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles or lower legs
Tell your health care provider if you have any of these side effects, as they are serious and can be life-threatening. You may need to stop taking clonidine if you experience any of these side effects.
Clonidine Overdose Symptoms
When someone uses clonidine without a prescription or outside of a doctor’s instructions, it’s considered abuse. For example, using clonidine only for certain desirable effects or using someone else’s clonidine can be considered prescription drug abuse.
Clonidine overdose can also occur. Signs of a potential clonidine overdose can include:
- Dangerously low blood pressure
- Miosis (constricted pupils)
- Slow heart rate
- Slowed breathing
- Somnolence (extreme tiredness)
A clonidine overdose is a medical emergency that can be fatal if left untreated. If you notice signs of a clonidine overdose in yourself or a loved one, immediately dial 911 and request emergency assistance.
Get Help for Clonidine Addiction in Orlando, FL
Clonidine is not a significant drug of abuse. However, this doesn’t mean misuse is not possible. People who struggle with opioid abuse may combine opioids with clonidine to increase the effects. Clonidine is also easier to obtain than opioids, which is why there can be a potential for misuse. Clonidine can also increase the effects of other psychoactive substances, such as alcohol or benzodiazepines.
If you or someone you love is showing signs of clonidine abuse, whether on its own or with 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 today to learn more about recovery approaches that can work well for your situation.
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