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Mixing Clonidine and Alcohol Withdrawal, Interactions, & Effects

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Clonidine and alcohol interactions can be serious. People who use clonidine and alcohol run a higher risk of fainting when they combine this medication with alcohol. Clonidine and alcohol can cause other adverse effects.

Clonidine and Alcohol Interactions

Mixing prescription medications like Clonidine and Alcohol can have serious negative side effects. This is particularly the case if the drug used and alcohol have similar effects. An example of a medication that can be abused along with alcohol is clonidine.

What Is Clonidine?

To treat high blood pressure, clonidine pills (Catapres) can be taken alone or in conjunction with other drugs. Children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have more difficulty focusing, controlling their actions, and remaining still or quiet than children of similar age. Clonidine extended-release (long-acting) tablets (Kapvay) are used alone or in combination with other medications to treat these symptoms. Clonidine belongs to the group of drugs known as centrally-acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agents. Clonidine lowers blood pressure and improves blood flow throughout the body by lowering heart rate and relaxing blood vessels. By influencing the area of the brain that regulates attention and impulsivity, clonidine extended-release pills may be used to treat ADHD.

High blood pressure is a common illness that, if left untreated, can harm the kidneys, brain, heart, blood vessels, and other organs. Heart disease, heart attack, heart failure, stroke, renal failure, eyesight loss, and other issues may result from damage to these organs. Making lifestyle modifications will help you control your blood pressure in addition to taking medication. These adjustments include quitting smoking, drinking alcohol in moderation, eating a diet low in fat and salt, keeping a healthy

Other conditions that can be treated with clonidine include dysmenorrhea (severely painful cramps during the menstrual cycle), hypertensive crisis (high blood pressure), Tourette’s syndrome (the need to make repetitive movements, sounds, or words), menopausal hot flashes, and alcohol and opiate (narcotic) withdrawal. Additionally, clonidine is used to diagnose pheochromocytoma and as a tool in treating smokers who want to quit (a tumor that develops on a gland near the kidneys and may cause high blood pressure and fast heart rate). Discuss the potential dangers of using this medicine for your illness with your doctor.

How Should Clonidine Be Used?

Clonidine is available as a tablet and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to be used orally. Typically, two regularly spaced doses of the tablet are taken each day. Typically, one or two extended-release tablets are taken daily, with or without food. Therefore, take clonidine every day at roughly the same time. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain instructions on your prescription label that you need clarification on following. Use clonidine as instructed by your doctor. Never take it in more significant or fewer amounts or more frequently than directed by your doctor.

Do not split, chew, or crush the extended-release pills; instead, swallow them whole. Your doctor might prescribe you a low dose of clonidine to start and then progressively increase it up to once per week.

Your illness won’t be cured with clonidine, but it might help regulate it. Even if you are feeling fine, keep taking clonidine. Without consulting your doctor, do not discontinue taking clonidine. When you abruptly stop taking clonidine, your blood pressure may spike quickly, and you may have symptoms including anxiety, headaches, and uncontrollable shaking of a body part. For the standard pill, your doctor will likely gradually lower your dosage over 2 to days; for the extended-release tablet,

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Is Clonidine Addictive?

Although clonidine is a medication frequently used to treat the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction, it also has the potential to be misused and should therefore be closely monitored.

Because it is a prescription drug, most abusers of clonidine do not believe they are breaking any laws. Hence their use frequently does not meet the traditional definition of addiction. According to the US authorities, clonidine is not a drug with a high potential for abuse. It has fewer limitations and abusing it carries less danger. Unfortunately, clonidine abuse often begins in rehab facilities because it is a common drug used to treat alcohol and opioid withdrawal. Clinicians should assess their worries about the possibility of trading addictions because it aids in reducing withdrawal symptoms and cravings.

Additionally, the synergistic effects of clonidine might make someone feel more drowsy and detached from reality when used with other benzodiazepines, opioids, or alcohol. It is critical to alert the patients and look for the following clonidine dependency warning signs:

  • Having a strong desire for clonidine
  • feeling the urge to take clonidine frequently
  • seeing that the same result requires taking more clonidine
  • A patient who constantly wants to make sure that there is always a supply of clonidine on hand
  • spending more money than one can afford on clonidine
  • The patient is unable to imagine stopping the clonidine.
  • When attempting to discontinue using clonidine, you can have withdrawal symptoms such as nauseousness, vomiting, headaches, dizziness, insomnia, restlessness,

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Clonidine and alcohol should not be mixed.  Although Clonidine will not reduce cravings for addictive substances, it can treat the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, such as anxiety, runny nose, agitation, sweating, muscle aches, sweating, and cramping. Additionally, it’s prescribed to people who are going through alcohol withdrawal.
Clonidine and alcohol should not be mixed. Although Clonidine will not reduce cravings for addictive substances, it can treat the symptoms of opiate withdrawal, such as anxiety, runny nose, agitation, sweating, muscle aches, sweating, and cramping. Additionally, it’s prescribed to people who are going through alcohol withdrawal.

Can You Drink Alcohol While Taking Clonidine?

Even when using clonidine as directed, it is advised to minimize alcohol intake because the blood pressure medicine has a central nervous system effect and will worsen side effects like sleepiness. People who use clonidine run a higher risk of fainting when they combine medication with alcohol. Clonidine can cause fainting. Additionally, combining the two drugs frequently results in headaches. While taking clonidine, drinking alcohol can alter the pulse.

Clonidine Alcohol Interaction

While clonidine is not commonly thought of as a habit-forming substance, it is possible to become addicted to both clonidine and alcohol. Some people may find it alluring to combine these two medicines due to their potent synergistic effects. The occasional drowsiness and faintness associated with clonidine use are made worse by alcohol. However, combining these two medications increases the risk of arrhythmia or alteration in heart rhythm.


Clonidine and alcohol addictions can be quite dangerous over time. Your blood chemistry changes when you take clonidine. Thus, it must always be taken as directed by a doctor. You might unintentionally overdose on clonidine while intoxicated. You might even say or do something that you later regret saying or doing but can’t recall.

The CNS-depressive effects of alcohol, barbiturates, or other sedative drugs may be amplified by clonidine. The hypotensive impact of clonidine hydrochloride may be diminished in a patient who concurrently takes tricyclic antidepressants, necessitating an increase in the clonidine dose.

How Long After Taking Clonidine Can I Drink Alcohol?

Clonidine is quickly absorbed orally and has 100% bioavailability. Its half-life is between 5 and 13 hours, and its blood concentration peaks 2 to 4 hours after intake. Half of the dosage is eliminated in urine unaltered. Although less frequent, toxic exposure via clonidine transdermal patches is more likely to cause noticeable symptoms in those exposed. If swallowed, patches may have a more prolonged release of clonidine in the gastrointestinal (GI) tract. Patches can contain up to 9 mg of clonidine.

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Can You Overdose on Clonidine and Alcohol?

Alcohol might intensify some clonidine side effects, including depression, nausea, vomiting, and a decline in sexual activity. A clonidine overdose can result in hypotension, bradycardia, hypothermia, respiratory depression, weakness, miosis (contraction of the pupils), irritability, confusion, and a reduction in or absence of reflexes. Apnea, coma, and dysrhythmias can occur when dosages are increased. Clonidine overdose symptoms typically appear between 30 minutes and 2 hours after the overdose; however, as alcohol intensifies the effects of the drug, symptoms may occur sooner in abusers.

Clonidine and Alcohol Withdrawal

The opiate withdrawal experience is lessened by clonidine through a decrease in catecholamine activity in the brain, most likely at the locus ceruleus. In animals with alcohol dependence, clonidine and locus ceruleus lesions, similar to opiates, affect alcohol withdrawal. Catecholamines in humans and animals are altered by alcohol loading and withdrawal from chronic alcohol usage. The ability of clonidine to assist alcoholics going through withdrawal is discussed. In comparison to a placebo, clonidine or its analogs appeared to be slightly more effective in treating acute alcohol withdrawal in several double-blind studies. The composite alcohol withdrawal scores, blood pressure, and pulse all experienced significant improvements.

Clonidine for Alcohol Withdrawal Symptoms

Minor side effects mostly comprised postural hypotension or moderate sedation. In the single published trial currently available, clonidine performed comparably to a typical sedative in the treatment of alcohol withdrawal and significantly impacted plasma catecholamine levels. There is no evidence that clonidine affects other aspects of alcohol withdrawal, such as seizures and hallucinations-delirium tremens. Alpha-2-adrenergic agonists appeared to be moderately effective in treating some aspects of alcohol withdrawal during alcohol therapy. They represent an innovative but still exploratory approach. Before their potential in therapeutics can be evaluated, more research is required, especially in comparison to benzodiazepines.

Clonidine for Alcohol Cravings

Taking Clonidine for alcohol cravings can help lessen discomfort while detoxing from alcohol. By reducing many withdrawal symptoms that can make early alcohol abstinence challenging, clonidine can help treat alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Depression


By preventing brain chemicals that activate the sympathetic nervous system, clonidine can help treat depression, another indication of substance dependence.
Now, the release of neurotransmitter proteins and hormones is only sometimes directly impacted by clonidine’s action in the locus coeruleus.

However, the medication’s anti-anxiety impact may assist patients in maintaining a state of calm that is typically lacking due to the effects of alcohol-induced chemical imbalances.

Tremors


Tremors are one of the most prevalent signs of alcohol withdrawal and may be caused by a brain chemical and hormonal imbalance related to stress.

One of the most dangerous adverse effects of quitting drinking is delirium tremens (DTs), characterized by these tremors as a symptom.

This condition may result in trembling, shaking, bewilderment, irritation, hot flashes, and nausea.

Sweats


Heat flashes and breakthrough sweats are uncomfortable but non-lethal signs of stopping drug use while undergoing alcohol withdrawal treatment.

The chemical imbalance in the brain that controls things like body temperature, hormone production, appetite, blood pressure, and more can be lessened with clonidine.

Clonidine Patch for Alcohol Withdrawal

In a prospective, double-blind study, we compared the effectiveness of transdermal clonidine and chlordiazepoxide in treating moderately severe acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome. Fifty hospitalized men were randomized to receive transdermal clonidine or chlordiazepoxide throughout a 4-day study period while experiencing significant withdrawal symptoms. Daily medical and psychological evaluations of the outcome were conducted, with measurements for the dependent variables being objective and subjective. In neither research group did any patients experience seizures or delirium tremens. According to the Alcohol Withdrawal Assessment Scale, the transdermal clonidine group responded more significantly to the signs and symptoms of alcohol withdrawal overall.

Additionally, clonidine reduced high heart rate and systolic and diastolic blood pressure more successfully. According to the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale and its somatic anxiety subscale, the patients receiving transdermal clonidine saw a markedly more significant reduction in the primary target symptom of anxiety. Both research populations responded in terms of cognitive function. Patients taking clonidine reported fewer symptoms of constipation, vertigo, headaches, and exhaustion, while those taking chlordiazepoxide reported fewer symptoms of nausea and vomiting. We conclude that transdermal clonidine works well for treating acute alcohol withdrawal syndrome.

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Clonidine for Alcohol Detox

The symptoms of detox and withdrawal from opioid use disorders can be relieved by clonidine. However, the symptoms of alcohol or benzodiazepine withdrawal are less well treated by this method. In recent years, other, more efficient medications have essentially taken the place of clonidine in treating withdrawal symptoms. Clonidine still has a function, nonetheless, in the treatment of withdrawal symptoms.

Clonidine helps control withdrawal symptoms such as elevated blood pressure, sweating, and tremor and lessens the desire for drugs. Since clonidine seldom leads to addiction, it is prescribed to patients who would otherwise be in danger of continuing to abuse drugs like buprenorphine.

Clonidine and Alcoholism Treatment

Detoxing in a rehab center where you can access experienced professionals who can manage alcohol detox and withdrawal complications is advisable.  The medically supervised detox processes allow the body to process the alcohol in the system and gently enable the body to be unaccustomed to its dependence.  It is the first stage of alcohol treatment and one you should seek before your addiction gets more acute.

In conclusion, those suffering from addiction for long periods at high use rates usually encounter more severe withdrawal symptoms, making the process more difficult.  Also, the symptoms may seem to get worse through the detox process.  They need constant care and attention to help manage the symptoms. Detoxing from alcohol and addiction treatment is within your reach to ensure your recovery starts on a healthy and safe step.

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Sources:

[1] National Library of Medicine – Clonidine

[2] National Library of Medicine – Clonidine

[3] Food and Drug Administration – Catapres® (clonidine hydrochloride, USP)

[4] National Library of Medicine – Clonidine and alcohol withdrawal

[5] SAMSHA – Alcohol Use Flyer

[6] National Library of Medicine – Transdermal clonidine versus chlordiazepoxide in alcohol withdrawal: a randomized, controlled clinical trial

[7] National Library of Medicine – Clonidine Toxicity

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