In addition to treating high blood pressure and symptoms of attention deficit, clonidine is sometimes used to help manage withdrawal symptoms from opioid and alcohol use disorders. Abuse of clonidine can also occur in individuals searching for opioid-induced euphoria.
Types of Treatment for Clonidine Addiction
Abuse of clonidine happens when taken alone and in combination with other substances, such as benzodiazepines, methadone, codeine, and heroin.
It is often misused by individuals hoping to increase and prolong the sense of euphoria experienced with opioid abuse. As the opioid overdose epidemic remains a major concern across the United States, healthcare providers are encouraged to closely assess for clonidine abuse if patients are taking the drug to manage opioid or alcohol withdrawal.
If you are addicted to clonidine, it is important to speak with a doctor before suddenly stopping use, as it can cause a sudden dangerous increase in blood pressure as well as withdrawal symptoms.
Fortunately, there are many treatment options available for clonidine addiction. Programs with varying levels of support and services are available to meet the individual needs of the person in recovery.
Crisis Intervention Services
Crisis services are designed for people currently incapacitated by substance use. Medical and mental withdrawal symptoms are managed through the detoxification process, in a hospital or clinic setting. Once stable, individuals are connected with further treatment services that are appropriate for their situation.
Inpatient treatment programs offer a highly structured program with continual medical supervision for individuals who can live on-site for the duration of the treatment program. In this intensive setting, care is available 24/7, with professionals monitoring physical, mental, and emotional withdrawal symptoms. Additional rehabilitation services, such as counseling and education on substance use, are also provided.
Inpatient treatment may be appropriate for people who are addicted to clonidine as well as other substances of abuse, such as opioids or alcohol. It may also be the best solution in cases of co-occurring disorders.
An outpatient treatment setting may be appropriate for an individual with a stable and supportive home environment who can commit to attending multiple meetings daily or per week as long as the treatment program lasts. Like inpatient programs, outpatient programs also provide medical supervision as well as education and counseling for the individual and their family.
Outpatient treatment is the most common choice for clonidine addiction. There are varying levels of intensity with outpatient treatment, allowing people to customize the frequency and duration of treatment to their needs.
Sober Living Environment
Sober living homes are substance-free environments for people who have completed the withdrawal process but are not yet ready to live entirely on their own. Counseling and group support services are typically offered, as are services to connect people with jobs and opportunities to reintegrate into their communities.
People who begin with inpatient treatment for clonidine addiction may choose to live in a sober living home after they exit their formal treatment program. The supportive environment can help them to avoid relapse during the early phase of recovery when they are often most vulnerable. People in outpatient treatment may also live in a sober living home if their home environment is not safe, supportive, or sober.
Treatment experts agree that behavioral therapy is an essential component of substance abuse treatment. The goal of therapy is to help individuals recognize and understand their patterns of substance use and why they turned to clonidine abuse in the first place. They can then begin to develop new healthy behaviors to prevent relapse.
Evidence shows that psychological and behavioral therapies are effective in treating addiction and are most effective when used in combination with medication. Psychological interventions including cognitive behavioral therapy, motivational interviewing, and relapse prevention are evidenced-based approaches to treating addiction to a variety of substances, including clonidine.
Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
As clonidine can be prescribed to manage withdrawal symptoms from opioid use disorder and alcohol use disorder, someone struggling with a clonidine addiction may have a co-occurring opioid or alcohol addiction.
Many individuals with substance use disorders also struggle with mental health problems. In such cases, any mental health problem, such as depression, must also be treated. Someone with severe depression may have started self-soothing with substances. If depression is left untreated, it will likely lead to relapse.
Peer support groups offer the opportunity to share and receive nonclinical support from others with similar challenges and experiences. Mental and substance abuse challenges can be discussed in support groups, which may or may not be led by a medical or mental health professional. In a treatment setting, group therapy is led by a professional.
Peer-led support groups offered around the world include the following:
No medication alone can treat a substance use disorder, but when used in combination with behavioral therapies within a comprehensive treatment program, they can be highly effective.
Several medications for substance use disorders have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration. Withdrawal symptoms and psychological cravings can be greatly reduced. When used appropriately, clonidine itself helps relieve opioid withdrawal symptoms.
There isn’t a medication designed to treat clonidine addiction like there is for alcohol use disorder or opioid use disorder. But medications may be used to address specific symptoms of withdrawal or co-occurring mental health issues.
Life After Rehabilitation
Sustaining and maintaining a life of sobriety after addiction treatment requires ongoing effort and care. Addiction is a chronic disease that can be successfully managed.
Completing a treatment program is one of the first steps toward living a life free of addiction. Components of an ongoing recovery plan after treatment include the following:
- Continued participation in therapy
- Continued use of medications, as needed, to manage drug cravings and support mental health
- Avoiding people, places, and things previously associated with substance use, so you are not triggered to use again
- Continued participation in community support groups, such as 12-step or other peer support meetings
Life after rehabilitation will look and feel much different than life before it. Allow yourself time to establish a new routine, including a healthy living situation, exercise, diet, and work habits. As you adjust to that routine, you’ll find a stronger footing in recovery and reduce your relapse risk.
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