The high from drug use can often seem attractive in the moment, but can also cause less pleasant effects as you come down. Especially if they are used habitually over a long period of time, trying to stop substance abuse can often be a very painful process, as your body tried to adapt to going without something it had become dependent upon.
The physical effects of withdraw is one of many things that makes starting the process of recovery from addiction so difficult for many. As a result, scientists and doctors are working to uncover a variety of treatment plans and medicines that may lesson the symptoms of withdraw, and make it more bearable, so that the person in recovery is able to focus on other things related to his or her healing.
One of the options currently being explored is Clonidine, a medication that works on the nervous system to reduce blood pressure. Off-label, many people have found clonidine to be useful in a wide variety of conditions, including lessening the symptoms of withdraw.
Hailed by some as a wonder drug, but more testing is going to be needed before we can be sure about its benefits and possible risks. Here is some more information that can help you and your health care provider make an informed decision about whether or not to make clonidine part of your recovery plan.
How Clonidine works, and its promise
Available as a pill, patch, or injection, clonidine controls nerve impulses to slow down your heart rate, relaxing blood vessels and making blood flow more easily through the body.
Clondine has been shown to be especially effective for alcohol withdraw, reducing blood pleasure, slowing down an elevated heart rate, which in turn brings down tremors, sweeting and anxiety. Controlled studies have also been shown that it can help people withdrawing from heroin and opiate painkillers, effects roughly equivalent and effective as methadone.
By controlling the part of your brain that regulates blood flow, Clondine works in both the brain, and in the body as a whole, to lessen some of the more severe symptoms of alcohol and opioid withdraw. This means that not only will the feelings of sickness go down, but you will probably feel less anxiety, as the fear center of the brain is calmed down.
Common side effects include constipation, dizziness, drowsiness, dry mouth, headache, fainant, nausea, nervousness, vomiting, and weakness. It is a sedative, and therefore can make driving dangerous. Many people who take Clondine do not report any bad effects at all.
Like all sedatives, alcohol or other sedatives can create dangerous interactions with Clondine. This means that relapsing while on Clondine could be extremely dangerous. For that reason, cautionary use of Clondine needs to be part of a holistic recovery plan that also treats the psychological causes behind your addiction.
Things to consider about Clonidine use
While current tests have shown some promising results, there is a lot more work that needs to be done to make sure Clondine is helpful. For that reason, it is usually used a second-choice or additional medication after other treatment plans aren't effective or can't be used.
When talking to your doctor, be sure you are considered all possible drug and non-drug options, being open to whatever would help you have a successful recovery.
Also, if you do choose to use Clondine, make sure you remain under the supervision and instructions of a doctor. Simply choosing to stop Clonidine rapidly on your own can produce its own harmful effects, including elevated blood pressure, shaking, and headaches.
When you feel the withdraw period has passed, your doctor will probably decrease the dosage under a phased withdraw, to decrease these risks.