Clonidine comes under the brand name Catapres and it is a medication used in drug withdrawal, especially opiates, smoking, and alcohol withdrawal. However, it comes with several other benefits in treating cancer pains, painful menstrual cycle, high blood pressure, attention deficit hypersensitivity disorder (ADHD), as well as diarrhea. Mode of ingestion will vary to suit different preferences.
Mode of ingestion
Clonidine offers different modes of ingestion to suit the different needs and preferences of different individuals. The mode of ingestion is also determined on the desired effect of the drug. The possible methods include oral ingestion, injections, as well as a skin patch.
A skin patch is more popular amongst patients seeking to stay clear of substance abuse in the long-term. However, in this form, it is best used after counseling and treatment with the aim of preventing a relapse. Oral and injecting methods are best used when you desire sooner and a faster effect as it goes straight to the bloodstream. This said oral medication and injections are common when the patient is beginning treatment for withdrawal symptoms.
Common Clonidine Side effects
The use of clonidine comes with some side effects. However, it is important to note that the side effects are normally mild. It affects different parts of the body. Some more tolerable than others, but none will last to harm the individual. When used to treat withdrawal symptoms from substance abuse, the side effects are as follows.
- Gastrointestinal effects: Despite the different modes of ingestion, you are likely to experience some of the following: abdominal pain, constipation, hepatitis, anorexia, nausea, salivary gland pain, as well as vomiting. This is however common for individuals who ingest the drug orally in pill form.
- Effects on the central nervous system: Many people abusing drugs will experience effects that are mentally related as well as behavioral effects. The use of the drug will lead to agitation, anxiety, hallucinations, insomnia, as well as mental depression. Other less common effects on the central nervous system include nervousness, behavioral changes, sleep disorder, the presence of nightmares, as well as vivid dreams. Long-term use of the drug in high doses may worsen these effects.
- Physical effects on the body: The body will clearly relate to the intake of the drug. You may experience fever, persistent headaches, pallor, constant fatigue, and increased sensitivity to alcohol. This is the reason it works to help individuals to stay away from alcohol. After all, it can be difficult to keep taking alcohol if you feel like it is constantly making you ill.
- Effects on your metabolism: Many individuals suffering from alcohol and drug addiction will seem to lose weight. When abusing these drugs, the drugs suppress their appetite. Clonidine attempts to reverse this effect leading to weight gain while at the same time elevating blood glucose in the body.
- Other related effects: There is the possibility to experience mouth and eye dryness, leg cramps, muscle or joint pain, blurred vision, decreased sexual activity, low libido, urinary retention, rashes, hives, urticaria, as well as dizziness.
Clonidine dosage will differ from one individual to another depending on the substance being abused, whether they are on other medications, as well as on the intensity of the drug amounts in the body. The dosage will also differ depending on the age of the individual.
The dosage for adults will be different as compared to the more elderly. The elderly will receive a lower initial dose and with time, the doctor will make the right adjustments. The initial dose for many will not be the same as their later dosage. This is because; the drug affects the blood pressure of the individual. Depending on the individual’s response, the doctor will then adjust the dosage.
After the treatment of withdrawal symptoms, the individual will receive clonidine as a maintenance drug to prevent relapse. The dosage here will also differ as compared to the dosage in the treatment stage.
Patients with renal impairment cannot take standard doses, especially as an initial dose. Their initial dose is lower and they must be monitored. Keep in mind that you can only remove a minimal amount of the drug during hemodialysis.
The tablet will come in tan, orange, or peach color variations. The different colors have different doses. Tan has 0.1mg; orange has 0.2mg, whereas the peach tablet comes with 0.3mg.
Despite its diverse benefits as withdrawal medication, it comes with some drug interactions that patients must observe. This drug has the ability to potentiate the CNS-depressive effects of alcohol as well as other sedating drugs. Clonidine intake with tricyclic antidepressants has the potential to reduce the hypotensive effect that clonidine has on the individual. Due to this, people tend to increase the drug’s dosage to bring about the desired effects.
Clonidine and neuroleptics when combined come with undesired side effects such as dizziness, hypotension, and persistent fatigue. An individual may not experience all the orthostatic regulation disturbances but they will experience a majority.
Use of clonidine while at the same time using medication that is known to affect sinus node function or AV nodal conduction can be fatal leading to effects that may hospitalize the patient. This means that you should never mix clonidine with drugs containing digitalis, calcium channel blockers, or beta-blockers. Clonidine is said to alter the heart rate. In this scenario, individuals experiencing alcohol withdrawal symptoms and experience delirium may increase arrhythmogenic potential.
With the above interactions, it is best that you disclose the use of any drugs to your doctor before starting its use. The doctor will be able to determine whether the drug is safe for you to use or not.
In conclusion, Clonidine as a drug for treating withdrawal symptoms from alcohol and drug abuse has been accepted over the years. It comes in tablets (oral ingestion), liquid (injecting), and skin patches. The initial dosage provided for patients normally comes in tablet form, which has different doses. It has proven reliable and when taken in the provided dosage, it is harmless with simple side effects that do not last.