Hypertension – when left untreated – often leads to fatal outcomes such as heart failure or cardiac arrests. Stress-free living conditions, intake of healthy fats, working out or exercising regularly are considered as good practices to help control blood pressure levels. Along with such treatment approaches, medications – such as clonidine are prescribed to bring blood pressure levels under control. Owing to the calming effects of this drug, it is also used to bring about relief from anxieties, spells of panic, restlessness, etc. But, can you mix alcohol and drugs like clonidine? The effects can be harmful to your wellbeing. You need to understand the risks involved in greater detail.

Clonidine chiefly works to reduce high blood pressure levels; it enables this reduction by activating a few sensors / receptors in your brain. You need to know the active ingredients of clonidine directly control the making of a few neuro-transmitting chemicals. Key neurotransmitters such as norepinephrine, renin – to name a few, are brought under greater control. As a result, your body makes these substances at a much lesser quantity. But, how does a low secretion of these brain chemicals leads to a fall in your blood pressure level? The answer rests in the ability or renin or norepinephrine to control the vascular resistance or tension of arteries, in particular and blood vessels, in general. Once the peripheral tension or resistance level of blood vessels is lowered, you are likely to witness a drop in your pressure levels.

Not stopping with these actions, the drug stops or controls the functioning of a select group of neurons / nerve cells. This action – again – has a direct impact on the production of transmitters such as norepinephrine and a few other such brain chemicals. The combined effect of the aforesaid actions is – the eventual calming of your nerves; this in turn results in a greater control of confusion or anxiety levels.

Mixing of alcohol with clonidine

It is not a safe practice to mix clonidine with alcohol. This can cause more adverse reactions such as migraines, acute phases of drowsiness, severe level of dizziness, etc. Excessive intake of alcohol along with clonidine may lead to side effects such as erratic heartbeats, rapid changes in pulse rates, passing out or fainting. Due to a high level of dizziness, you are advised not to drive or operate heavy machinery. These actions may lead to accidents which can harm your as well as others near you. As an extended precaution, never pursue adventurous sporting activities – such as say, cycling, swimming or jumping.

Also, remember to tell your doctor or pharmacist about prior episodes of substance abuse or spells of addiction. In such cases, your caregiving team will advise not to use alcohol or other intoxicants while you are taking clonidine. Most of the discomforts listed above – especially, dizziness, a sharp change in heartbeats or an erratic pulse rate – may show up as soon as you mix alcohol along with this drug. You are advised to tell your treating physician about these discomforts immediately – i.e., without any delay. Your physician may recommend a few safety precautions – such as taking it slow while changing postures – i.e., when you are trying to stand up after lying down for a while, never shift postures quickly. It is a safe practice to alter postures in a steady manner.

Other precautions needed while you are taking clonidine

You must note that clonidine is also sold in an immediate release form. This form works differently from a sustained release form of the drug. It is not a good practice to consume two different forms of this drug at the same time. Also, never take meds which may contain ingredients that are similar to clonidine or other such antihypertensive drugs. Beware of a few allergies clonidine is capable of triggering. It is a good practice to share details about your prior allergies or hypersensitivity to specific chemicals / substances. In a small percentage of users, clonidine has caused allergic reactions such as rashes on skin, dizziness as well as a few respiratory disorders. Upon encountering one or more of these allergic reactions, it is highly recommended to seek needful advice from your treating doctor at the earliest possible time.

Your treating doctor will seek information about the meds you are presently taking. Make a list of all the drugs and treatment plans; while making this list, include prescription meds, over the counter (OTC) drugs, proteins, vitamins and dietary supplements. In order to avoid any possible allergies or undesired side effects, your doctor may start your medication plan at a bare minimal dosage level. This introductory dose of clonidine is administered for a few days; if your system does not respond adversely or develop any severe side effects, dosage values are then gradually raised. In general, you are advised to take the doses prior to bedtime. No two people with the same condition may be administered with same dosage levels. Your medication plan / dosages of clonidine depend on your age, pre-existing clinical conditions as well as on how well your body responds to the first few, low dosages.

You may also need to know that the aforesaid list of side effects of clonidine do not make a complete listing. Hence, you may – in some rare instances – develop a few unknown discomforts. Upon encountering such very rare or uncommon side effects, seek medical help on an urgent mode. If you are a resident of US, contact 911 or the helpline numbers of food and drug administration (FDA). FDA runs its own helplines to record incidence of side effects or unknown allergic reactions. Those who are residents of Canada may call the closest poison control center or can establish quick contact with Health Canada.

In sum, it can be harmful to mix alcohol and clonidine. You are likely to experience drowsiness, dizziness, rapid heartbeat, fainting or passing out. Moreover, tell your physician if you have had any prior experiences of substance abuse. It is important to inform your doctor upon experiencing any of the aforesaid discomforts as soon as they show up. Follow all the safety precautions listed out by your caregiving team – such as keeping away from activities that require a high level of focus. In general, it is unsafe to drive, work with heavy machinery or do cycling or swimming. For all other needful safety precautions, you are advised to talk to your treating doctor and / or a pharmacist.

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