Clonidine And Its Mechanism Of Action

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are an important tool for those who are addicted to opioids.

12/27/20222 min read

Medications for opioid use disorder (MOUD) are an important tool for those who are addicted to opioids. This pharmacological component's efficacy in treatment has been demonstrated in numerous studies. To date, the World Health Organization (WHO) has recommended and the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three drugs to treat opioid use disorder (OUD): methadone, buprenorphine, and naltrexone. One or more of these three drugs are included in all brand-name MOUD prescriptions. Bunavail, Belbuca, Subutex, Suboxone, Naltrexone (Vivitrol), Sublocade, and ZubSolv are some of the most well-known brand names. There are various other drugs that are used off-label to aid with rehabilitation in addition to these FDA-approved MOUDs. Clonidine is an opioid withdrawal medicine that is particularly effective at alleviating the unpleasant symptoms of withdrawal.

Clonidine was licensed by the FDA to treat hypertension (high blood pressure), attention deficit disorder (ADHD) in children, Tourette syndrome symptoms, and cancer-related discomfort. Clonidine is widely used "off-label" to treat a variety of different conditions. Off-label prescriptions are FDA-authorized drugs that doctors use to treat ailments other than those for which they were approved. Off-label prescribing is a widespread medical practice. Clonidine, for example, is used off-label to treat anxiety, sleeplessness, post-traumatic stress syndrome, and opiate, benzodiazepine, and alcohol withdrawal symptoms.

Clonidine has been used off-label to treat opioid withdrawal symptoms for more than 25 years. Clonidine is often administered to treat acute withdrawal symptoms rather than as a long-term maintenance medicine. Clonidine is not an opioid agonist, unlike other FDA-approved MOUDs such as methadone and buprenorphine. This means that clonidine has no effect on opioid receptors. Clonidine not only relieves withdrawal symptoms, but it also has an anti-craving effect on opioids. Clonidine is also beneficial to people who are getting ready to start Naltrexone treatment. Naltrexone is an MOUD that has been approved by the FDA. Naltrexone is an opioid antagonist as well. This means that patients must be free of opioids for 7-14 days before beginning Naltrexone treatment. This includes MOUDs containing opioids that have been approved by the FDA and are commonly used to aid recovery. Clonidine can aid with withdrawal symptoms in the 7-14 days before starting Naltrexone medication.

What is Clonidine's mechanism of action?

Clonidine belongs to the antihypertensive drug class. High blood pressure is usually treated with antihypertensive medicines. An overactive sympathetic nervous system is responsible for many of the unpleasant and painful symptoms associated with opiate withdrawal. Clonidine reduces hyperactivity, which helps to alleviate a variety of withdrawal symptoms such as hot flashes, sweating, muscle aches, runny nose, anxiety, and irritability. Clonidine is available as a pill and as a body patch. The dosage varies depending on the patient, the severity of the withdrawal symptoms, and the type of opioid the patient was taking previously.