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Disclaimer: This is not meant to be medical advice, and always discuss with your care manager, prescriber or other doctor before making any medication changes or taking action, unless otherwise indicated. Please refer to the package insert included with your medication.

What is Clonidine (Generic Catapres®)?

Clonidine is a medication that is best known for treating high blood pressure. It is also FDA approved in children with ADHD. It has strong clinical evidence for use in Adult ADHD, acute anxiety symptoms, and even opioid withdrawal. Clonidine is not a stimulant nor is it a controlled substance. 

How does Clonidine (Generic Catapres®) work?

The benefit is ADHD thought to be from its effects in the prefrontal cortex of the brain. Clonidine reduces symptoms of hyperactivity and impulsivity. Clonidine’s anti-hypertensive effect is thought to be due to its effect on receptors in the brain flow that ultimately work to decrease heart rate and blood pressure by impacting the sympathetic nervous system. This is also how clonidine reduces symptoms of anxiety. 

How long does it take Clonidine (Generic Catapres®) to work?

Clonidine’s blood pressure and anxiety lowering effects begin to occur about 30-60 minutes after the first dose and have their maximum effect after about 2-4 hours. 

For ADHD, it may take 2-3 weeks to see the benefits of the medication. 

How do I take Clonidine (Generic Catapres®)?

You can take clonidine with or without food. 

What if I miss a dose of Clonidine (Generic Catapres®)? 

If it is almost time for your next dose, skip the missed dose and go back to taking at your normal time. Do not take 2 doses at the same time or extra doses. If you find yourself consistently missing your medication, let your care manager or prescriber know. 

Can I take Clonidine (Generic Catapres®) while drinking?

It is generally best to avoid or, at least, limit alcohol consumption while on clonidine. One reason is that Clonidine can occasionally cause sedation in certain patients. Alcohol, since it is also sedating, can worsen this sedation. Additionally, excessive alcohol use can be a contributor to anxiety and depression, and may contribute to the symptoms you are trying to treat with Clonidine.

Important Safety Information

All medications have risks. While most of the side effects from Clonidine are either mild or very rare, you should discuss the risks and benefits of the medication. If you experience any side effects, please notify your provider immediately. If you have a serious side effect, contact your in-person health care provider immediately. If you are having an emergency, call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. 

 

How should this medicine be used?

Clonidine comes as a tablet and an extended-release (long-acting) tablet to take by mouth. The tablet is usually taken two times a day at evenly spaced intervals. The extended-release tablet is usually taken once or twice a day with or without food. Take clonidine at around the same times every day. Follow the directions on your prescription label carefully, and ask your doctor or pharmacist to explain any part you do not understand. Take clonidine exactly as directed. Do not take more or less of it or take it more often than prescribed by your doctor.

Swallow the extended-release tablets whole; do not split, chew or crush them.

Your doctor may start you on a low dose of clonidine and gradually increase your dose, not more than once every week.

Clonidine may help to control your condition but will not cure it. Continue to take clonidine even if you feel well. Do not stop taking clonidine without talking to your doctor. If you suddenly stop taking clonidine, it can cause a rapid rise in your blood pressure and symptoms such as nervousness, headache, and uncontrollable shaking of a part of the body. Your doctor will probably decrease your dose gradually over 2 to days for the regular tablet and 3 to 7 days for the extended-release tablet.

Before taking clonidine: 

  • Tell your Mantra-affiliated prescriber, doctor and pharmacist if you are allergic to clonidine, any of its ingredients, clonidine patches, or any other medications. Ask your pharmacist for a list of the ingredients.
  • tell your doctor if you have or have ever had a stroke, a recent heart attack, or heart or kidney disease.
  • tell your doctor if you are pregnant, plan to become pregnant, or are breast-feeding. If you become pregnant while taking clonidine, call your doctor.
  • talk to your doctor about the risks and benefits of using clonidine if you are 65 years of age or older. Older adults should not usually use clonidine because it is not as safe as other medications that can be used to treat the same condition.
  • if you are having surgery, including dental surgery, tell the doctor or dentist that you are taking clonidine.
  • you should know that clonidine may make you drowsy or dizzy. Do not drive a car or operate machinery until you know how this medication affects you.
  • ask your doctor about the safe use of alcohol while you are taking clonidine. Alcohol can make the side effects from clonidine worse.
  • you should know that clonidine may cause dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting when you get up too quickly from a lying position. This is more common when you first start taking clonidine. To avoid this problem, get out of bed slowly, resting your feet on the floor for a few minutes before standing up.
  • you should know that clonidine extended-release tablets should be used as part of a total treatment program for ADHD, which may include counseling and special education. Make sure to follow all of your doctor's and therapist's instructions.

 

Tell your Mantra-affiliated prescriber, doctor and pharmacist what prescription and nonprescription medications, vitamins, nutritional supplements, and herbal products you are taking or plan to take. Be sure to mention any of the following: antidepressants; beta blockers such as acebutolol (Sectral), atenolol (Tenormin, in Tenoretic), betaxolol, bisoprolol (Zebeta, in Ziac), carvedilol (Coreg), labetalol , metoprolol (Lopressor, Toprol XL, in Dutoprol), nadolol (Corgard, in Corzide), pindolol, propranolol (Inderal, Innopran XL, in Inderide), sotalol (Betapace, Sorine), and timolol; calcium channel blockers such as amlodipine (in Amturnide, Norvasc, in Amturnide, in Tekamlo, others), diltiazem (Cardizem, Dilacor XR, Dilt-CD, Taztia XT, Tiazac, others), felodipine (Plendil), isradipine, nicardipine (Cardene), nifedipine (Adalat CC, Afeditab CR, Procardia), nimodipine, nisoldipine (Sular), and verapamil (Calan, Covera, Verelan, others, in Tarka); digoxin (Lanoxin); medications for anxiety, mental illness, or seizures; sedatives; sleeping pills; tranquilizers; and tricyclic antidepressants such as amitriptyline, amoxapine, clomipramine (Anafranil), desipramine (Norpramin), doxepin (Silenor), imipramine (Tofranil), maprotiline, nortriptyline (Pamelor), protriptyline (Vivactil), and trimipramine (Surmontil). Your doctor may need to change the doses of your medications or monitor you carefully for side effects.

What special dietary instructions should I follow?

 Your doctor may prescribe a low-salt or low-sodium diet. Follow these directions carefully.

What should I do if I forget a dose?

Take the missed dose as soon as you remember it. However, if it is almost time for the next dose, skip the missed dose and continue your regular dosing schedule. Do not take a double dose to make up for a missed one.

What side effects can this medication cause?

Clonidine may cause side effects. Tell your doctor if any of these symptoms or those listed in the SPECIAL PRECAUTIONS section, are severe or do not go away:

  • dry mouth
  • tiredness
  • weakness
  • headache
  • nervousness
  • decreased sexual ability
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • Constipation

Some side effects can be serious. If you experience any of the following symptoms, call your doctor immediately or get emergency medical treatment:

  • rash
  • hives
  • swelling of the face, throat, tongue, lips, eyes, hands, feet, ankles, or lower legs
  • difficulty swallowing or breathing
  • hoarseness

Clonidine may cause other side effects. Call your doctor if you have any unusual problems while taking this medication.

If you experience a serious side effect, you or your doctor may send a report to the Food and Drug Administration's (FDA) MedWatch Adverse Event Reporting program or by phone (1-800-332-1088).

In case of emergency/overdose

In case of overdose, call the poison control helpline at 1-800-222-1222. Information is also available online at https://www.poisonhelp.org/help. If the victim has collapsed, had a seizure, has trouble breathing, or can't be awakened, immediately call emergency services at 911.

Symptoms of overdose may include the following:

  • fainting
  • slow heart rate
  • difficulty breathing
  • shivering
  • slurred speech
  • tiredness
  • confusion
  • cold, pale skin
  • drowsiness
  • weakness
  • smaller pupils (black circles in the middle of the eyes)

What other information should I know?

Keep all appointments with your doctor. Your blood pressure should be checked regularly to determine your response to clonidine.

Your doctor may ask you to check your pulse (heart rate) daily and will tell you how rapid it should be. Ask your doctor or pharmacist to teach you how to take your pulse. If your pulse is slower or faster than it should be, call your doctor before taking this medication that day.

To relieve dry mouth caused by clonidine, chew gum or suck sugarless hard candy.

Do not let anyone else take your medication. Ask your pharmacist any questions you have about refilling your prescription.

It is important for you to keep a written list of all of the prescription and nonprescription (over-the-counter) medicines you are taking, as well as any products such as vitamins, minerals, or other dietary supplements. You should bring this list with you each time you visit a doctor or if you are admitted to a hospital. It is also important information to carry with you in case of emergencies.

Tell your healthcare providers

Telemedicine does not replace your primary care physician. It is important to keep your primary care physician, other healthcare providers, and pharmacist informed of all medications you are taking, including those prescribed by your Mantra-affiliated provider, as they can interact with other medicines you may be taking.

Additional Resources

FDA Access Data: Clonidine

Medline Plus Clonidine