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Clonidine and Alcohol

December 18, 2020

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Clonidine is a prescription sedative and anti-hypertensive drug. Common brand names include Catapres and Kapvay. It is commonly in a pill or path form frequently in use to treat high blood pressure or ADHD. While the side effects are not typically severe, it is possible for negative interactions to occur in use with other drugs. When people mix drugs, also sometimes known as polysubstance abuse, they often mix alcohol and another substance. If someone mixes alcohol with clonidine this is a potentially dangerous combination. Both drugs are sedatives and mixing heightens the sedative effects.

What is clonidine?

Clonidine is most frequently in use as an antihypertensive – a class of drugs to treat high blood pressure. However, clonidine can work for a variety of other symptoms and disorders. As a sedative drug, it is also sometimes in use to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and similar disorders. Clonidine works through relaxing blood vessels and lowering the heart rate, which enables blood to flow more freely. This helps treat ADHD through calming the body and this is helpful in managing overactivity often seen in ADHD patients.


In certain cases, clonidine is helpful in drug withdrawal including opioids, alcohol, benzodiazepines, and nicotine through the hypertensive management and calming effects. Other uses include treating sleep and anxiety disorders. Though insomnia isn’t part of approved use, the relaxation aspects help some people fall asleep faster. Further, the calming side effects may alleviate anxiety attacks. 

Side effects of clonidine

For any person, it is always important to take any prescription drug under the guidance of a doctor. Doing so helps minimize any negative side effects, though it is important that patients always communicate with doctors. However, like any drug, negative side effects are possible. These include:  

  • Drowsiness 
  • Fatigue
  • Dry mouth
  • Dizziness
  • Upper abdominal pain
  • Irritability
  • Nightmares

More intense and serious side effects possibly include:

  • Irregular heartbeat or blood pressure
  • Fainting/passing out
  • Headaches
  • Poor balance
  • Difficulty breathing

Again, normal use minimizes the risk of any negative side effects. However, the risk increases when combining clonidine with other drugs like alcohol or improper use. A clonidine overdose is rarely deadly on its own. Still, mixing with another substance increases the chances of serious health problems and death. With any suspected overdose, immediate treatment is essential and it is important to call emergency services right away.


Mixing clonidine and alcohol

The risks from clonidine increase with either improper use or mixing with another substance, like alcohol. Clonidine and alcohol are both sedatives drugs which slow down brain processes and other body functions.

It is possible that some knowingly mix the two hoping to enhance the sedative effects, though others likely do not realize the danger in doing so. Other that increase the danger when mixed with clonidine include opioids, tricyclic antidepressants, and heart medications.

While some mix substances to enhance seemingly “positive” effects, it also enhances negative effects. It is possible for clonidine and alcohol to both cause light-headedness, drowsiness, and haziness. Additional negative side effects possibly include irregular heartbeat, rapid drops in blood pressure, strokes, heart attacks, and even death. Sedation and dizziness are serious side effects and more dangerous many might consider. It is possible it will cause someone to faint and injure themselves or be suddenly unfit to drive. 


Is clonidine addictive?

Addiction to clonidine alone with proper use is not a significant risk. However, improper use increases the risk of dependence.  While there are not definitive studies on the addictive nature, the sedative class of drugs (which include clonidine), rank above LSD and ecstasy in how addictive they are. Though the risk of abuse is not high, it is important to watch out for the potential especially if in use with other substances.

Long-term misuse can have drastic effects on users. The risk for harm increases if use is suddenly stopped. With improper use, clonidine might cause problems like low blood pressure, low heart rate, and withdrawal symptoms. It is important to taper use with medical guidance. If someone fails to do so, it is possible to experience spikes in blood pressure, agitation, tremors, and headaches. Though abuse is not typically high, it is best for a patient to always follow the recommended dose, check in regularly with a doctor, and avoid taking clonidine in combination with other drugs including alcohol.


Clonidine alone is not highly addictive, but it is possible for anyone to develop an issue especially with improper use or through combining with other substances. Alcohol, opioids, some antidepressants, and heart medications are all substances that have unsafe interactions with clonidine. A number of these substances are highly addictive with dangerous side effects alone and with other substances, like clonidine. Addiction is a complex issue to treat and it is important to get proper help. A medical professional is able to help  identify underlying issues and give you direction and the best tools to help fight addiction. If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction or substance abuse of any kind, contact us to help start the journey to a healthier life.