What is Clonidine?

Originally developed as a nasal decongestant, Clonidine has been found to work very well for patients experiencing withdrawal symptoms from opiates. According to the JamaNetwork, Clonidine produces a rapid and statistically significant decrease in opiate withdrawal signs and symptoms. Clonidine administration for 14 days enabled all patients to be successfully detoxified from chronic opiate administration. In all patients studied, clonidine was a safe and effective non-opiate treatment of opiate withdrawal that suppressed the effect, signs, and symptoms of opiate withdrawal.

Withdrawal Symptoms

When someone becomes addicted to a substance, such as opioids, their brain becomes chemically rewired to require the substance. This is why people suffering from addiction go through great lengths to obtain their substance of choice. When the substance is no longer being supplied to the brain, the body experiences the absence and goes through a painful period of time, called withdrawal.

Once the brain rewires and learns it doesn’t actually need the substance to survive, the withdrawal symptoms subside and the substance is out of the system. However, getting to the other side of withdrawal symptoms is very difficult for someone experiencing them alone.

There are many withdrawal symptoms that come along with detoxing from opiates. They include:

  • Muscle pain
  • Diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Restlessness
  • Insomnia
  • Sweating
  • Anxiety
  • Abdominal pain
  • Increased heart rate
  • Tremors

How Clonidine Manages Them

Since detox and its associated withdrawal symptoms can be extremely uncomfortable, one of the advantages of receiving medical detox is that you can ease these symptoms. Taking advantage of clonidine can help alleviate a host of withdrawal symptoms, making the detox period much more comfortable and manageable. This will allow you to more clearly focus on your therapy, building new coping skills and working on learning tools to help manage your triggers for when you exit treatment.


In the early stages of detox, people may experience a wide range of emotions. They can be easily agitated, irritable, experience anxiety or even feel depression. Since opioids have worked for so long to “numb” these negative emotions, it can be pretty overwhelming when the first come to the surface in detox. Clonidine works to help reduce these negative emotions and bring an overall sense of calm to the body.


When someone first begins detox, cravings are at an all-time high. This is when many people might give in and relapse if not in a treatment setting. This is especially dangerous, because usually a person will binge to “compensate” for the time they were not using. This often leads to overdose, and even death in some cases.

Clonidine helps these cravings by modifying the brain so that cravings may become less frequent or noticeable. The alpha-2 adrenergic agonism in Clonidine has been shown to prevent opiate cravings when the client is presented with a trigger they would not otherwise be ready to overcome yet.

Physical Symptoms

Clonidine helps to alleviate many uncomfortable physical symptoms of withdrawal, such as diarrhea, fever, headaches, skin flushing, hot flashes, restlessness and other physical pains. Depending on the length and severity of the addiction, these physical pains can vary rather widely. Some people experience only a few, while others are left debilitated. When clients are free from these distracting pains, they are more easily able to recover from detox and focus on their ongoing therapy treatment.

Medical Detox

Going through opiate detox alone is very risky. Not only are there uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms, but there is a very high likelihood that a person could relapse. Constantly being surrounded by old triggers and knowing how to quickly obtain opiates might prove to be overwhelming, and drive a person to relapse. This, combined with all the painful withdrawal symptoms, is a lot for someone suffering from addiction to manage all on their own.

Why experience all of that when you can comfortably and safely detox? Clonidine, among other medications, can be administered to help you through this period of time. In addition to the comfort that medical detox brings, it will also help to ensure your long-lasting sobriety. You will be cared for around-the-clock by our on-staff addictionologist and medical staff, and you will be far away from triggers that could damage your recovery. Relaxing and detoxing at an inpatient center and taking away as many stressors as possible will help you with putting yourself and your health first.

About Cliffside Malibu

Detox from opioids does not have to be an uncomfortable, unpleasant thing. Chances are, you have tried to become sober (or slow your use) on your own with no luck. Try it differently this time, and see how clonidine can work to manage your withdrawal symptoms.

Each patient is then matched with one of these five stages of the Transtheoretical Model: Precontemplation, Contemplation, Preparation, Action and Maintenance. An individualized treatment plan is created based on their current stage of change. This process is in place to ensure that all our patients receive the best treatment path possible for their own specific need. Our goal is to move individuals through their treatment by assessing their readiness for change and formulating stage-matched interventions in order to move them through their respective stage.

It is the policy of Cliffside Malibu to ensure that all individuals who present with chemical dependency issues are assessed for the appropriate level of care. We strive to provide continuum of care including medically supervised detox, residential treatment, day treatment and outpatient services. Services are provided to individuals with a primary diagnosis of substance abuse and/or alcohol addiction. Individuals seeking treatment are assessed by qualified staff to ensure program criteria are met and that each individual admitted is placed in the appropriate level of care for treatment. The program is designed and structured for individuals who are in need of a supportive environment in order to maintain Sobriety.

For more information on Cliffside Malibu, visit cliffsidemalibu.com