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How Effective is Clonidine for Opiate Withdrawal?

By Jessica F. Black
Updated Mar 03, 2024
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Clonidine for opiate withdrawal is extremely effective because it relieves many secondary symptoms associated with opiate detoxification. This medication was originally introduced to treat hypertension and high blood pressure, but physicians found additional uses for the drug that were extremely beneficial, especially when using clonidine to treat opiate withdrawal. Some of the symptoms are an enhanced version of how hypertension affects the body, and this medication is prescribed to both types of patients with the intent of relieving discomfort and minimizing symptoms.

The symptoms usually include, but are not limited to, sneezing, watery eyes, anxiety, rapid heart rate, diarrhea, nausea, insomnia, sweating, and high blood pressure. Clonidine for opiate withdrawal can relieve some of these symptoms, but people often use over-the-counter drugs as well. Some of these medications are anti-diarrhea drugs, antacids, sleep aids, and fever reducers.

A patient should disclose all medical information to his or her physician before taking clonidine for opiate withdrawal, especially other medications being taken, pregnancy, and all known allergies. This medication may cause side effects including dry mouth, fatigue, constipation, and headaches. Antidepressants may also effect clonidine's usage and should be discussed with a medical professional.

Opiate withdrawal usually occurs after a prolonged use of opium based drugs has ended. The most common of these drugs are heroin, methadone, and pain medications that have high doses of opiates. Poppy plants produce a fluid in the underdeveloped seeds called opium, which can be converted into these various drugs. The rate that an opiate reaches the brain depends on how it is consumed, and it immediately affects the receptors that enhance pleasure and reduce pain. These drugs are able to generate a euphoric feeling that the body is naturally incapable of recreating, making it addictive.

Addiction occurs after continued use and the body forms a tolerance to the opiate, causing the person to increase his or her intake. This cycle enables a dependency to form, which is most noticeable when the body begins to experience various sicknesses after short breaks from the drug. The brain becomes adjusted to the opiates relieving pain and enhancing pleasure, which creates a full body dependency. The intensity of the detoxification is the primary reason that quitting is so difficult and why there are a variety of treatment options. Some patients find that they require additional treatment to clonidine for opiate withdrawal, such as hospitalization, in-patient rehabilitation, and sometimes even methadone maintenance programs.

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Discussion Comments
By fBoyle — On Dec 16, 2013

In my opinion, clonidine is the medication for opiate withdrawal. I don't think I would have been able to overcome my addiction without it. I had severe anxiety, insomnia and sweats during withdrawal. Clonidine reduced their intensity and made it manageable.

I do know someone though, who did not have a good experience on clonidine during opiate withdrawal. He said that it made him feel worse. So maybe, everyone reacts differently.

By serenesurface — On Dec 15, 2013

@ddljohn-- As far as I know, clonidine is not addictive. Plus, the doses used for opiate withdrawal are very, very small. We're talking about 0.1mg and 0.2mg doses. So I don't think dependency or tolerance is an issue.

Clonidine can cause side effects like low blood pressure though. So it's a good idea to use it under doctor supervision. I know that it is commonly used in opiate detox centers. If someone were to experience low blood pressure because of it, there would be someone to help them.

Clonidine can definitely be used for opiate withdrawal at home, but a doctor should prescribe it and determine the dose and the treatment period.

By ddljohn — On Dec 15, 2013

Clonidine is not addictive, right?

If it's addictive, I see a danger in using it for opiate withdrawal. What if that individual starts abusing clonidine during an opiate addiction withdrawal?

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