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Dangers of Mixing Clonidine and Alcohol

Authored by Granite Recovery Centers    Reviewed by James Gamache    Last Updated: September 4th, 2021


James Gamache Medical Reviewer
Jim is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LICSW) and Licensed Masters Level Addictions Counselor (MLADC). He has been working in the field of mental health/addiction treatment since 1995. Jim earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Services from Springfield College in 2000, and a Masters Degree in Social Work from Boston University in 2002. In 2002 Jim was hired by the Mental Health Center of Greater Manchester holding the position of Clinical Case Manager. From 2004-2019, Jim was employed at WestBridge Inc. During his time at WestBridge, Jim held the following positions; Clinician, Team Leader, Director, & Chief Operations Officer. In 2019 Jim transitioned employment to GateHouse Treatment Center as the Clinical Director for 10 months. In October of 2020 Jim transitioned to Granite Recovery Centers and is currently serving as the Senior VP of Clinical Services and Quality Assurance.

Mixing alcohol with medications can have serious side effects. You might experience nausea, headaches, drowsiness, and a loss of coordination. Other symptoms include vomiting and fainting. You are at a greater risk of heart problems and difficulties in breathing in addition to internal bleeding. Alcohol is also known to make the medication less effective or useless. In other cases, alcohol can cause the drug you combine with drinking to become more toxic and harmful to your body. Clonidine is one such example of a medication that is abused with alcohol.

What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine is an antihypertensive medication used for treating high blood pressure. It can also treat pain and anxiety disorders, panic attacks, and ADHD. Common dosages of the medication include 0.1 milligrams, 0.2 milligrams, and 0.3 milligrams.

The drug is classified to be a centrally acting alpha-agonist. This means that the drug affects the alpha-adrenoreceptors in the brainstem. As such, it can reduce the systematic outflow from the central nervous system (CNS). It is also known to decrease peripheral resistance, blood pressure, vascular resistance, and heart rate.

This drug is sometimes prescribed to people who are experiencing withdrawal from opiates. Though it will not reduce the cravings, it will help to manage symptoms of opiate withdrawal. These symptoms include a running nose, agitation, muscle aches, and anxiety. Additional symptoms include sweating and cramping. People undergoing alcohol withdrawal may also be prescribed the drug to manage alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Why People Use Alcohol and Clonidine Together

People who abuse clonidine and alcohol often do so because it amplifies the effects of alcohol. It increases the duration in which the high feeling from the alcohol lasts. When used in combination with alcohol, clonidine can cause a zombie-like effect.

Users who have abused clonidine together with alcohol report experiencing a lightheaded feeling or dizziness. Others claimed to hallucinate. The main challenge in the abuse of these two drugs together is that they are easy to obtain.

Clonidine is not a controlled substance and is not expensive. Due to the lower abuse potential of the drug, doctors are willing to prescribe clonidine. Getting a prescription from the doctor makes it easier for the abusers to obtain the drug. As such, they are more likely to abuse it and use it in combination with alcohol.

Who Are the Abusers of Clonidine and Alcohol?

Those with an addiction to opiates are often the ones who abuse clonidine with alcohol. They do this to produce feelings of euphoria more quickly and reduce the amount of heroin they require to get high. Combining the two drugs enables them to extend their high and stay in a euphoric state for much longer. The attenuation of opiate withdrawal symptoms happens by the process of reduction in catecholamine activity in the brain.

Elderly individuals are also among the groups that use clonidine and alcohol in combination. What’s concerning is that older individuals tend to have more severe side effects when they combine these two substances. If an older person has been using clonidine and alcohol together for a significant period of time and decides to quit using, they will likely need close monitoring to manage the effects of withdrawal.

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol and Clonidine

When alcohol and clonidine are abused together, their combination causes a change in blood chemistry. Changes in blood pressure are expected, and in some cases, people become unconscious. Combining clonidine with alcohol has the potential for stroke, coma, heart attack, or death. People who use the two substances together are also more likely to experience seizures.

People taking clonidine, including by prescription, should limit their alcohol usage. The blood pressure medication is known to affect the central nervous system and enhance effects such as drowsiness. The drug can cause someone to faint if they mix it with alcohol. Headaches are another side effect, and heart rate and pulse are slowed.

Alcohol and Clonidine

Additionally, using alcohol and clonidine together for a long time can cause significant problems with the liver. Alcohol metabolizes in the liver and brings about the damage that can be transient or become permanent with continued use.

If taken alone, clonidine by itself has the potential to cause side effects. Weakness is one of the common symptoms, with others experiencing headaches and fatigue. The drug also increases the sensitivity to alcohol. Other side effects of clonidine include:

  • Nervousness
  • Dry mouth
  • Constipation
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Nightmares
  • Heart palpitations
  • Muscle and joint pain
  • Decreased libido

Combining the drug and alcohol can worsen these effects. Overdosing on clonidine is likely to cause these symptoms in as short as 30 minutes.

Can One Get Addicted to Alcohol and Clonidine?

Clonidine is rarely the sole substance of abuse. For most people, the addictive behavior results from using clonidine and alcohol or clonidine and another drug together. One addiction causes another addiction to develop. Individuals who abuse alcohol with the drug have greater chances of getting addicted.

Individuals suffering from poly-drug addiction that involves clonidine and alcohol have withdrawal symptoms similar to the withdrawal symptoms that occur from alcohol alone. They include tremors, agitation, anxiety, irritability, confusion, headaches, and insomnia.

Addiction to both alcohol and clonidine requires a comprehensive and effective treatment plan to overcome it. Alcohol withdrawal can lead to seizures and death, while clonidine withdrawal can lead to hypertension. As such, individuals need close monitoring in a medical facility while they are recovering.

Medication can help in detox and recovery, but therapy is the most effective form of treatment. It enables an individual to identify issues that caused the initial substance abuse. With these dealt with, relapse will be less likely to occur.

Granite Recovery Centers

Being treated for addiction to both alcohol and clonidine is very difficult and requires a more intense approach. Patients may not fully recover without the proper support, and the side effects can still linger in their system. They will also have a higher likelihood of relapsing to drug use even after various treatment programs.

The best way to effectively address combined clonidine and alcohol use is by getting a supportive treatment program. Such a treatment program should place the patient in an environment insulated from the outside world. With strong support and a serene environment, these patients can recover better. They also get to form a stronger mindset that will enable them to stay away from the drugs.

Granite Recovery Centers provide comprehensive treatment for those living with a substance and/or alcohol use disorder. Many people have found a transformation of their lives here. They have been able to overcome addiction and move forward free from the bonds of drugs and alcohol.

At our centers, every patient is adequately supported physically, psychologically, and socially. There is always social support to guide their healing process and ensure that they grow stronger.

The resolve to stop consuming drugs is always in the patient seeking treatment, and all we do is cultivate this resolve and make it stronger. A person’s willingness to recover is one thing we look for and encourage in our patients.

At Granite Recovery Centers, professional counselors are at your disposal. They are readily available and experienced in supporting those recovering from addiction. Through individual and group therapy sessions, they help patients understand the root causes of addiction and learn to change the behaviors and thinking patterns that lead them to use. By helping you understand why you use drugs and/or alcohol, our counselors can help you avoid relapse as you continue with your recovery.

Detox for Alcohol and Clonidine Recovery

Detox is another service available at Granite Recovery Centers. Our medically supervised detox program is intended to eliminate all toxic elements and chemicals in your body. Detoxing from drugs and alcohol is an essential first step in the recovery process. During the detox phase, our patients are closely monitored to manage the severity of withdrawal.

In some cases, medication is provided to make patients more comfortable as their bodies work to rid themselves of toxins. Granite Recovery Centers provides medical detoxification for people who do not need immediate medical intervention, are not a danger to themselves, and are capable of self-evacuation in the event of an emergency.

Properly detoxing is also an essential part of recovery because it helps prevent you from relapsing early in your treatment program. Without the drugs in your system, individuals will have reduced cravings, and you can more easily focus on moving ahead with your recovery. It also allows your mind to recover from the effects of prolonged drug and/or alcohol use. Once the drugs are out of your system, your mind is in a better position to fight off the urge and transform you into a better person who does not have to use to get through their day.

In addition to receiving professional support from medical doctors and therapists, Granite Recovery Centers provides each patient with the social support they need to recover. At our facilities, you will be among other individuals who are also on the road to recovery. With support from others who understand what you are going through, you can tackle the common temptations and cravings among all individuals recovering from drug and/or alcohol use.

Recovery Environment for Alcohol and Clonidine Abuse

The environment at each Granite Recovery Centers facility is perfect for recovery. It gives those in recovery a break from their pasts and a look at a brighter future. The serenity is also enhanced with holistic programs that complement therapy sessions. Patients at Granite Recovery Centers can participate in regular exercise, meditation, and other programs that strengthen the mind and reduce the stress that can sometimes enhance cravings for drugs and alcohol. Our team also provides patients with stress-reduction training and other complementary programs, including therapeutic writing.

At Granite Recovery Centers, the healing does not stop once you complete your inpatient or outpatient program. Those who need additional support on their path to recovery can also access it through offerings such as our sober living program. Sober living homes provide a supportive and structured environment that can promote lifelong sobriety. Those in sober living also get to rebuild basic skills and form bonds with others in recovery as they transition to a life of independence.

If you or someone you love is living with an addiction to drugs and/or alcohol and looking to break free, Granite Recovery Centers can be your ticket to a brighter life. While the road to recovery is always difficult, getting away from drugs and alcohol for good is entirely possible with the right support. We specialize in treating all types of substance use disorders, and we can help you. Contact our team today, and make the first step toward a better future.

At Granite Recovery Centers, we want to provide accurate information about health and addiction so that our readers can make informed decisions.

We have credentialed medical doctors & clinicians who specialize in addiction treatment review the information on our website before it is published. We use credible sources such as government websites and journal articles when citing statistics or other medically related topics.