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The FDA allows for clonidine to be prescribed by doctors for one main reason, which is high blood pressure. While there may be other clonidine uses, doctors usually prescribe it for hypertension, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), or sleep disorder.

If a person overdoses on clonidine, it can lead to headaches and other side effects as well as clonidine addiction.

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Here’s a look at what clonidine is and what happens if you take too much. 

Understanding What Clonidine Is

When a person ingests clonidine, the drug communicates with the brain to boost the amount of adrenaline released.

Clonidine may be administered in conjunction with other prescription drugs. Many people ingest clonidine as a tablet while some prefer a transdermal patch or epidural injection. As a medicine, it does not cure high blood pressure but helps keep it under control. It’s common for people to take the drug for many years.

Sometimes clonidine is part of a medical treatment program for people who have difficulty paying attention to the details of their job tasks. It might also be given as a treatment for someone trying to overcome impulsive behavior.

Side Effects of Clonidine

The short-term effects of clonidine may vary among individuals and are generally minor.

Here are various side effects that can occur when a person ingests too much clonidine:

The long-term effects of clonidine are more troublesome. Patients can develop an addiction to the drug if they aren’t careful.

It’s important to only take prescription drugs as directed by your doctor. You should let your doctor know about any other health conditions you have such as an irregular heartbeat before using clonidine.

clonidine overdose

Symptoms of Clonidine Overdose

Clonidine Overdose: Signs and Possibilities

Taking too much clonidine can lead to various health concerns such as:

It may also:

  • Lower blood pressure
  • Slow down the heart rate
  • Cause breathing difficulties

Some individuals may experience an allergic reaction, swelling in the face, or breaking out in hives.

Other clonidine overdose cases may involve shortness of breath and swelling of the lips, tongue, and throat. Chest pains may also occur among individuals in more severe cases.

The sedative effects of clonidine [1*] usually wear off after a few hours. If a patient exhibits no warning signs after 4-8 hours following clonidine ingestion, the patient may be discharged.

Typical Signs and Symptoms of Clonidine Overdose

Some of the typical signs and symptoms of clonidine overdose include excessive sleep beyond normal hours and slurred speech.

The person might become irritable and treat friends in a cold manner. Another sign of too much clonidine in the system is exhibiting weak reflexes.

An overdose victim might feel light-headed or go into a seizure. Another risk from clonidine is the individual can feel dizzy, faint, fall down, and get injured. It’s important to get the victim to an emergency room right away.

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What Health Officials Say

According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), clonidine can lead to persistent but not life-threatening clinical effects. Deaths, however, can sometimes result when serious symptoms develop.

Many patients suffer a form of depression once they become addicted to the substance.

The American Psychiatric Association has identified several signs of addiction including the following:

  • Developing a craving for the addictive substance
  • Failing to meet regular obligations due to excessive drug use
  • Continuing to use a dangerous substance despite warnings
  • Building tolerance for the drug and taking larger doses
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when trying to reduce intake

Clonidine Overdose Treatment

People who are prescribed to take clonidine can fall into a similar addiction pattern as patients on opioids.

The sedative nature of the drug can lead patients to enjoy a relaxed state of mind so much they want to make it the norm. Clonidine withdrawal symptoms vary but generally point to an uptight personality.

In rare cases, it may be necessary for someone who knows first aid to provide advanced resuscitation for overdose or toxicity victims. But for the most part, they may just need time to relax. Toxic effects typically wear off after 24-72 hours.

clonidine overdose

How to Take Clonidine?

Dosage Limits

Talk with your doctor about your dosage limits to avoid overdosing on clonidine.

A typical daily dose for a child or adult is .01 mg. Some physicians believe toxicity can occur at a dose as low as .02 mg. The largest dosage given to a child due to a pharmacy error has been 50 mg, but the child was released after 42 hours.

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Although the NIH states on its website that clonidine is relatively safe, anyone taking the drug should guard against addiction and overdose.

Mortality is rare for the drug’s users but can occur with a combination of unfortunate factors.


+1 sources
  1. Clonidine in Adults as a Sedative Agent in the Intensive Care Unit. (2010)
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Evidence Based

This article is based on scientific evidence, written by experts and fact checked by experts.

Our team of experts strive to be objective, unbiased, honest and to present both sides of the argument.

This article contains scientific references. The numbers
in the parentheses (1, 2, 3) are clickable links to peer-reviewed scientific papers.