Last Updated on June 7, 2024 by Dr. Alberto Solà

There are many prescription drugs out there that can be addictive. Chances are that you haven’t even heard of many of them; there are so many different prescription drugs on the market today. However, for every drug you haven’t heard of, there are people out there who think of nothing else. Drug dependency and addiction is common in our world today, and so many people are suffering. Fortunately, there is help available and people do break free from addiction; so many go on to enjoy healthy, happy, drug free lives for the rest of their time on this earth after seeking help.

One addictive drug which you probably have not heard of is clonidine. Even if you have heard of it, you likely know of it because of its medical uses, not because of its addiction potential. This drug is primarily used to lower blood pressure, and with the vast number of Americans who struggle with high blood pressure and heart disease today, it’s not surprising that it’s prescribed frequently. It is also prescribed for many other health issues as well.

However, when used recreationally, clonidine can be addictive and people can become dependent on it quickly. Clonidine addiction is much more common than you might think. Read on to learn more about this drug, the signs and symptoms of addiction to it, and the ways that dependent users can break free.

What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine has been around for a long time. This drug was invented and approved over four decades ago. It is primarily prescribed to lower high blood pressure and it is very effective in achieving that goal. It’s approved for that purpose by the FDA and that was the condition it was developed to treat.

Over the years, doctors have found many other uses for clonidine as well. It’s a drug that is very frequently prescribed for a wide variety of reasons – some FDA-approved and some not.

How Does Clonidine Work?

The way that this drug works is very simple. It works by lowering blood pressure and heart rate by relaxing the arteries and increasing blood supply to the heart. It works on alpha-adrenergic and imidazoline receptor agonists to achieve this result. Clonidine half-life is between six and twenty hours.

Clonidine can be administered in a number of different ways. Both immediate and extended-release tablets are the most common form; transdermal extended-release patches are also available. In a hospital setting, sometimes an injectable solution is used.

Therapeutic Uses of Clonidine

What is clonidine used for besides high blood pressure? Hypertension may have been the condition for which clonidine was developed, and it may still be what it’s prescribed for most often, but there are many other uses for this drug as well. The FDA has also approved clonidine for the treatment of ADHD in children and for the management of tics commonly found with Tourette syndrome. It is sometimes also used as therapy for cancer-related pain, and it is also used to help babies suffering from neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome.

There are also quite a few off-label uses that are common that have not been approved by the FDA. Some doctors prescribe clonidine for anxiety, and others offer clonidine for sleep or PTSD. Some addiction recovery doctors also prescribe it to help their patients manage withdrawal symptoms from opioids, benzodiazepines, or alcohol.

This drug can be helpful in all of the above situations, but it also has some serious side effects, and clonidine also can be addictive.

Clonidine Interactions and Contraindications

There are no severe and dangerous drug interactions listed for clonidine, but there are some drugs that, when combined with clonidine over a long period of time, can be dangerous. Doctors must be vigilant when prescribing clonidine to people taking other medications and need to be on the lookout for an increase in side effects.

Also, users should not quit clonidine cold turkey. They need to taper off it slowly, or else there can be some serious rebound hypertension that can cause further health problems.

What is the Most Common Side Effect of Clonidine?

Clonidine has many side effects. Some are mild, but some can be quite severe and dangerous.

Common clonidine side effects include occasional abdominal pain, headaches, fatigue, nausea, constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, sedation, fever, and sexual dysfunction.

Serious reactions to the drug might include depression, hypersensitivity, slow heart rate, skipped heartbeats, and angioedema. Heart valve blockages are also possible.

Other issues that may arise in severe cases can include congestive heart failure, which is life-threatening.

Managing Clonidine Side Effects and Overdose

The best way to manage side effects of clonidine or any other drug is to take it only as directed by your doctor. If you begin to experience any side effects when taking clonidine as directed, speak to your doctor immediately. He or she may adjust your dose to decrease these side effects in the future.

People who use clonidine recreationally or differently from the way it was prescribed to them will certainly have a much higher chance of experiencing side effects and a higher chance of experiencing severe side effects in particular.

Someone struggling with addiction to clonidine may exhibit increased agitation, nervous behavior, or tremors. They may use the substance uncontrollably and may become less responsible or accountable, and their tolerance will increase over time.

Withdrawal from clonidine abuse can be deadly, and overdose can be deadly as well. Someone who is withdrawing from or overdosing on clonidine may have a slow heart rate, may faint, and may shiver. They may feel tired or weak, and their speech may sound slurred. They may become drowsy. In a worst-case situation, they may even slip into a coma. These clonidine withdrawal symptoms can be very dangerous.

If someone you know is addicted to clonidine and is exhibiting any of these symptoms, seek medical attention right away.

You Can Break Free

As with any drug, it is possible to break free from addiction to clonidine. Again, it’s crucial that any user of this drug does not quit abruptly; tapering off it is necessary for safety and to decrease withdrawal symptoms. Addiction recovery centers can treat people who are addicted to clonidine and can help them begin to take their first steps on a drug free, healthy life and a better future.

If you are struggling with dependency or addiction to clonidine, we can help. At our ibogaine treatment center, we are standing by to help you break free from your addictions and to find the root of the problems that led to them in the first place. Our facility in Cancun, Mexico, is staffed with people who are experienced in addiction recovery services, and our innovative ibogaine treatment has helped many before you. We are standing by to answer any questions you have and we can’t wait to hear from you. Please contact us today.


What is clonidine used for?

Clonidine is primarily used to treat high blood pressure and can also be used for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and certain pain conditions.

How long does clonidine stay in your system?

Clonidine has a half-life of about 12 to 16 hours, meaning it can stay in your system for approximately 2 to 3 days.

What does clonidine do?

Clonidine helps lower your blood pressure by taking it easy on your heart rate and giving your blood vessels a break, so your blood flows smoother.

How long does clonidine make you sleepy?

Clonidine can cause drowsiness or sedation, especially when initiating therapy; this may diminish after a few days to a few weeks as your body adjusts to the medication.

What drug class is clonidine?

Clonidine belongs to a class of drugs called centrally acting alpha-agonists.

How does clonidine lower blood pressure?

Clonidine lowers blood pressure – by reducing levels of certain chemicals in the blood, allowing the heart to beat more slowly and with less force, and relaxing blood vessels so that blood flows more easily.

How much clonidine is dangerous?

The dangerous dose of clonidine can vary depending on individual factors, but generally, doses greater than 6 mg per day are harmful.

What does clonidine look like?

Clonidine typically comes in the form of small, round tablets, which can be white, yellow, or pink, depending on the dosage and manufacturer.