Of the many drugs prescribed for the treatment of high blood pressure, clonidine is a widely used med. It is also known to trigger calming effects; owing to which, it is used as a sedative medication. This med is categorized under a class of drugs known as alpha-2 agonists. The various other uses of this drug include the treatment of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), anxieties as well as a few menopause-related symptoms. Can intake of drug make you dependent on it or addicted to it? Do people who take it regularly may soon develop a craving it to have a good night’s sleep? You need to know more on these possibilities prior to starting your treating plan for ADHD or hypertension.

Clonidine works as a sedative to calm your nerves and brain. It works by controlling the secretion of chemicals such as renin, norepinephrine, etc. As a result, your blood vessels experience lesser tension, and eventually you may find calmness. Owing to the drug’s calming effects, it is often abused or misused. Abusive intake of this drug is often accompanied by other drugs such as painkilling meds, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and / or a few other substances such as heroin as well as methadone. Unless such practices are checked at an early stage, they may soon turn into a daily habit, and can make you addicted to it.

Those who take clonidine need to know that you must never discontinue the dosages in a sudden manner. An abrupt ending of the treatment plan often results in withdrawal problems. Withdrawal may show up as severe spells of headaches, an increase in blood pressure level, tremors, etc. In some cases, sleep related problems may arise; in essence – you may find it difficult to fall asleep. In other words, you may experience deep sleep only if you take a dose of clonidine. If you are experiencing such sleep disorders, it is highly recommended to consult with your caregiving team without any further delay.

How to minimize withdrawal problems associated with clonidine?

Foremost of all precautions, never take clonidine as an over the counter (OTC) med. Intake of this drug needs to be accompanied by the prescription of a qualified medical practitioner. The safe dosage level is usually maintained at 0.1 milligram (mg) per day. This dose is often regarded as a safe level, especially while starting your medication plan. In order to make it safer, 0.1 mg dose is given prior to bed time. Though the drug may be taken either before or after a meal, it is a good practice to consume it after food. The initial doses and how your system responds to the starting doses are carefully studied. If your body does not respond adversely or no major allergic reactions are witnessed, your treating doctor may mildly increase the dosage value.

In general, the dosage – at the maintenance stage – is retained at 0.2 to 0.3 mg per day. In some cases, daily dosages are split into two. If one dose is larger than the other, the stronger one is taken during bedtime. It is very important to remember that this drug is never administered onto children aged below 7 years. In order to avoid insomnia or other sleeping problems, the dosages are tapered before taking your medication plan to a logical close. Sleep problems are more likely to arise among people who have been taking clonidine for a longer time; such people may experience excessive level of weakness, tiredness and persistent spells of fever accompanied by migraines. You may experience hallucination, anxieties, sleep related problems, etc. Some near-fatal outcomes may also arise – these include erratic heartbeat, heart arrest as well as palpitations.

Precautions users of clonidine need to be aware of

Apart from the onset of sleep related problems, you may also encounter lesser levels of accountability (both at office and at home), added levels of tolerance, urges to use the drug regularly, etc. Those who witness increased levels of agitation, frequent spells of shaking and staying nervous are recommended to seek medical attention on an emergency basis.

Same dosages are seldom given to two people – i.e., those showing the same types of symptoms of hyperactivity or hypertension. This is because – your dosages are influenced by your pre-existing illnesses / disorders, your age, gender as well as based on how acute is your anxiety or restlessness. Among older users, dosages are kept at a bare minimum of 0.1 mg (or at times, even lesser than that). This is intentionally kept at a lower level to avoid likely side effects like dizziness, falling, loss of coordination, etc.

The aforesaid symptoms do not constitute a full list of the drug’s side effects. It is hence possible to experience a few unknown discomforts. Upon encountering one or more of unlisted side effects, you are advised to call 911 as quickly as possible. You can also reach out to the 24 X 7 helpdesk of the food and drug administration (FDA); this helpdesk keeps track of the adverse effects of drugs FDA clears, and also renders needful clinical support on an urgent mode. Those who are residents of Canada need to contact Health Canada or go to a poison control center situated closer to your home.

Overdose of clonidine

People who consume an excessive dose of clonidine may also undergo a few acute discomforts; these include slowdown of pulse rate, slurring of the speech function, frequent spells of shivering, falling or slipping into coma. Upon taking a self-assessment examination, you can also take needful support from a local rehab center.

In sum, longer term use of clonidine may cause a few sleep related problems. This is often categorized as a withdrawal symptom. Other symptoms – such as weakness, tiredness, fever, headaches, abdominal problems (like vomiting or nausea), etc. are also observed. In a few cases, weird dreams or thoughts, hallucination, confusion, etc. have been reported. Upon witnessing inability to fall asleep, consult with your caregiver on a top priority basis. If the problems turn into severe conditions, talk to a local rehab centre, or call 911 (if you are in the US); those living in Canada can either call a poison control center or reach out to Health Canada as soon as possible.

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