Substance Use

Clonidine and Alcohol Substance Abuse

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Mixing Alcohol With Clonidine: What Are the Dangers?

Clonidine is not a controlled substance, but that doesn’t make it safe to use off-label. The primary medical use of clonidine is to treat high blood pressure (“hypertension”). However, clonidine is also prescribed for anxiety disorders, panic attacks, pain disorders, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

While clonidine is not abused as often as opioids and other drugs, it is still abused, and its misuse can be deadly. Mixing alcohol with clonidine is the most common way to misuse the drug. However, clonidine can also be taken with various other substances, like heroin. The purpose of combining clonidine with another drug is to experience a stronger, more intense feeling while using less of the primary substance. 

Are you currently struggling with a substance use disorder? You don’t have to walk the path alone. Contact Zinnia Health on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information.  

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What Is Clonidine?

Clonidine has a few legitimate medical uses. It is most commonly prescribed to treat high blood pressure, anxiety disorder, panic attacks, pain disorders, and ADHD. Clonidine is also sometimes prescribed for people experiencing opioid withdrawal symptoms.

While clonidine cannot reduce drug cravings, it can reduce some symptoms commonly experienced during withdrawal. These include muscle aches, cramping, sweating, and anxiety. Clonidine has also been shown to have a strong positive impact on individuals recovering from alcohol use disorder when used under clinical supervision. 

The danger of providing clonidine to an individual recovering from alcohol use disorder is that the combination of the two can be dangerous. Clonidine is not associated with a euphoric “high” feeling like most addictive drugs, but how it alters the blood chemistry can worsen addictive behaviors. 

The Dangers of Mixing Alcohol With Clonidine

The ease with which people can obtain clonidine and alcohol can leave some to believe that the combination isn’t dangerous. However, that’s far from the truth. Mixing alcohol and clonidine can lead to a down or “zombie-like” effect. This is where a person feels highly impaired, sedated, or even lethargic.

Some people use the combination of clonidine and alcohol to help them sleep. This combination is particularly dangerous due to its ability to suppress respiratory function. If breathing becomes too slow or irregular, it could lead to loss of consciousness or oxygen deprivation.

It can also slow the heart rate, contributing to these risks. By amplifying the depressant effects of alcohol, clonidine can also impact mental health.

Why Do People Mix Alcohol With Clonidine?

Alcohol is readily available, and Clonidine can be purchased cheaply as a prescription is not required. Alternatively, an individual could lie to their doctor about symptoms to get a prescription relatively easily. 

Clonidine is often considered a safe drug because it is not a controlled substance and has little risk of addiction. However, while clonidine may not be addictive, it is commonly abused. People who abuse clonidine will take it with another drug, such as alcohol, to experience more potent effects.

Clonidine amplifies the depressant and sedative effects that alcohol induces. This means a person taking clonidine feels more significant effects after just a few drinks. Likewise, some people also take clonidine with other drugs, such as heroin, to feel stronger effects without taking more of the drug.

While this might sound like a safer alternative to drinking more alcohol or taking more of any given drug, it’s far more dangerous.

How clonidine amplifies the effects of other drugs has to do with its ability to alter the blood chemistry and increase drug absorption. This means that clonidine can put an individual at risk of overdose, even if they’re taking a dose they’ve taken many times before.

It’s this hidden danger that can make mixing alcohol with clonidine life-threatening. It’s also why you should take any known instances of clonidine abuse seriously.

Zinnia Health can offer guidance and support if you or a loved one needs help recovering from a substance use disorder. Contact Zinnia Health on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information.  

Side Effects of Mixing Alcohol With Clonidine

The side effects of mixing alcohol with clonidine include:

  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth
  • Extreme drowsiness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Anxiety
  • Pain throughout the body

The sedative effects of alcohol are only amplified with the ingestion of clonidine. This effect can reduce oxygen in the body, further intensifying the feeling of tiredness. 

Shortly after taking alcohol and clonidine, most people experience intense dizziness and lightheadedness, as you may experience after a few drinks. Some individuals even experience hallucinations while taking alcohol and clonidine together. However, these are only the mild side effects of mixing alcohol with clonidine.

The more serious side effects of clonidine and alcohol together include:

  • Stroke
  • Heart attack
  • Coma
  • Risk of fainting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Headaches
  • Seizures
  • Liver problems
  • Death

Long-term use of clonidine and alcohol consumption can contribute to alcohol dependence, leading to alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, substance abuse alongside drinking alcohol makes the addiction treatment process more difficult. A customized treatment program is usually necessary.

Zinnia Health Can Help

Getting help with clonidine abuse is important because it’s often just one sign of a bigger problem. Whether you’ve only tried clonidine and alcohol once or are habitually mixing clonidine with other substances, it’s essential to seek help and get on the road to recovery as soon as possible. 

Inpatient, outpatient, and residential treatment centers can all help in the recovery process. However, figuring out which option best suits your needs is crucial. If you’re ready to explore your treatment options, contact Zinnia Health on our website or call us today at (855) 430-9439 for more information. 

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