How Does Clonidine Help with Withdrawal Symptoms?

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If you have gone to the hospital for detoxification or overdose in the past, they probably gave you clonidine for some of your symptoms. Although this is not a miracle cure for withdrawal, it is described as taking the edge off many of the symptoms.

What is Clonidine?

According to the National Library of Medicine, Medline, clonidine is an alpha-agonist hypotensive agent, which is useful in treating high blood pressure and a variety of other conditions. It lowers the blood pressure which produces a calming effect on the mind and body. This is what makes it helpful for treating a variety of other disorders including withdrawal.

Clonidine, High Blood Pressure, and Withdrawal

One of the most deadly symptoms of withdrawal is extremely high blood pressure. Blood pressure issues are a symptom in many types of drug withdrawal. Clonidine is a fast acting medication that lowers your blood pressure within minutes if it is injected and within a half hour when it is taken in tablet form.

Clonidine Helps Common Withdrawal Symptoms

Withdrawal Symptoms

Clonidine can help fight withdrawal-induced insomnia.

Part of the reason why patients presenting with withdrawal symptoms are given clonidine it can reduce many of them.


According to the National Library of Medicine’s article Effects of Clonidine on Anxiety Disorders, clonidine reduces anxiety attacks in most patients. Although it does not appear to help with the physical symptoms of anxiety, it has a postsynaptic effect on the psychological feelings of overall panic and nervousness.


Most cases of insomnia due to withdrawal are corrected in one of two ways. The first is to use addictive hypnotic which is often undesirable to those wanting to get off drugs. The second is to reduce the patient’s blood pressure. When your blood pressure is low you naturally become sleepy, it is in this way that clonidine allows you to fall asleep.


Similar to insomnia, restlessness is often treated with a potentially addictive drug, but when clonidine is used there is no chance of addiction. The reduction in blood pressure makes you feel less restless.

Agitation and irritability

Due to clonidine’s ability to interrupt some synaptic pathways, it can reduce incidences of agitation in some patients. Patients in full withdrawal often become agitated and irritable while they are feeling the more physical symptoms. Both the calming effect that clonidine has and the reduction in blood pressure help to calm an agitated patient.

How Effective is Clonidine in Addiction Treatment?

How Clonidine Works Best for Withdrawal

According to Medscape, clonidine works best as a taper drug for withdrawal. You get all of the benefits of clonidine without the side effect of rebound blood pressure issues. Rebound high blood pressure is a condition that happens when you take clonidine for an extended period.

During a clonidine taper, you gradually reduce the drug you are addicted to while treating the break through withdrawal symptoms with clonidine. This allows for a more comfortable drug withdrawal.

Finding a Treatment Center that Uses Clonidine

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