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Clonidine (Catapres): Abuse And Addiction Potential

clonidine prescription

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Clonidine is a prescription medication used for a wide variety of chronic and acute conditions. Sold under numerous names, including Catapres, it can be taken by mouth, injected, or through a skin patch. Users should fully understand the clonidine medication, from the forms it takes to its potential for addiction.

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Learn About Clonidine Prescription & Misuse:

Clonidine: General Overview

Catapres is a prescription medication. The medication has had FDA approval for use in the United States since 1974. It is made by multiple manufacturers, including Actavis Elizabeth, Alembic Pharms, and Mylan. The clonidine uses are numerous, from treating high blood pressure to helping with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. The clonidine drug class is centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agent.

Catapres comes in numerous forms. The right clonidine dosage will depend on the form taken, the purpose it is used for, and variables within the patient. Patients taking the medication should carefully follow the instructions given to them by their doctor.

Can One Buy Clonidine Over The Counter?

Some individuals might want to access Catapres without a prescription, especially those looking to use it to manage withdrawal. However, clonidine HCL is not available over the counter. One must have a clonidine prescription to access the medication legally.

Clonidine Ingredients

Catapres medication contains both active and inactive ingredients. The active ingredient in all formulations is clonidine HCL. The inactive ingredients will vary between manufacturers and formulations.

Some inactive ingredients found in the medical formulas on the market include:

  • Lactose monohydrate
  • Microcrystalline cellulose
  • Pregelatinized starch
  • Sodium starch glycolate
  • Magnesium stearate
  • FD&C Yellow No. 6

However, this is not an exhaustive list of those found in all formulations of the drug.

Patients should research the inactive ingredients in Catapres before taking the drug, especially if they have demonstrated an allergic or adverse reaction to inactive medication ingredients in the past. Despite being inactive, for those with sensitivities, these could contribute to clonidine side effects.

Clonidine Generic And Brand Names

The medicine goes by many different names based on its product forms and who manufacturers it. The most well-known clonidine brand name is Catapres (immediate-release). Kapvay is similar in that it is a brand-name option in tablet form in the same doses. However, it is the extended-release formulation.

The clonidine generic name is its active ingredient – clonidine hydrochloride. Other clonidine names include Nexiclon, which has been discontinued, Duraclon, and Catapres TTS. In addition to tablet forms, there are also patch, injection, and suspension versions of clonidine available.

Users should be aware that the version of Catapres they are taking will change how long it remains in the system. Patients should be educated on potential interactions, as well as the clonidine half-life.

Clonidine Abuse Potential

On the surface, there shouldn’t be much, if any, abuse potential for a drug that was designed to treat high blood pressure. However, Catapres is actually a relatively common drug of abuse. Those addicted to opiates have the greatest potential for developing a Catapres addiction. This is mostly because opiate addicts gain access to it as an option for treating withdrawal.

In any case, anyone could potentially abuse clonidine hydrochloride. The medication is easy to access, and depending on how it is taken, it can produce a sense of euphoria. However, it is not a DEA controlled substance, even if the patients sometimes report clonidine high feelings.

While the medication is safe when used as prescribed, Catapres abuse is dangerous. It greatly increases the risk of clonidine overdose and even death from the medication. In order to abuse the medication, it is generally taken in unapproved ways. Another tactic used by those abusing it is to exploit clonidine interactions that can produce a high-like sensation.

Clonidine Addiction

Catapres is not considered to be an addictive substance. However, that does not mean that users cannot become dependent on it. Physically, the body can come to heavily rely on the medication for certain functions, especially in the case of ADHD treatment, which means that stopping it can cause problems similar to what is seen when someone ends the use of a substance they are physically addicted to.

Clonidine addiction is more easily seen in the mental dependence on the medication. Many users who abuse the drug, or even take it as directed, may fear to stop the medication. It can become a significant source of comfort in their lives, and they may worry about being unable to function without it. In these cases, even if it is not officially labeled an addictive substance, it can still feel like one to some users.

how much Catapres costs

Clonidine Price

Another concern for anyone taking Catapres medication or generic formulations is the cost of the drug. The price varies based on a dose, a number of doses ordered at a time, and formulation chosen. Below are price tables showing how much different versions of the medication may cost.

Clonidine Price (Brand Name)

Dose30 tablets60 tablets90 tablets

Catapres Price (Generic)

Dose30 tablets60 tablets90 tablets

Kapvay Price (Generic)

Dose30 tablets60 tablets90 tablets

Catapres-TTS Price (Generic)

Dose1 patch12 patches1 carton (4 patches)
0.1mg per day$19-$33$113-$390$45-$120
0.2mg per day$25-$52$164-$624$63-$235
0.3mg per day$31-$74$212-$890$81-$297

Duraclon Price

Duraclon is an injectable formulation. The average price is $55 per 10ml of the drug. However, because it is rare for this form of the medication to be prescribed, patients might struggle to find it at their local pharmacy.

How To Save On Clonidine

The best way to save on Catapres is to start with maximizing insurance benefits for those who have coverage. Depending on the terms of their policy, users could save hundreds of dollars each month on the medication.

If someone does not have insurance coverage or it has gaps, seeking online coupons for the medication is a good route to take. Many in-person pharmacies will accept these coupons. Users should also check to see if their pharmacy of choice has some sort of a savings plan to make their medication more affordable.

alternative medications to Catapres

Clonidine Alternatives

For some users, Catapres ends up not being the right medication for them. This could be due to side effects, worries about addiction, or even the price.

Some clonidine substitutes are as follows:

  • Guanfacine: Looking at clonidine vs. guanfacine, the second is perhaps the best alternative to Catapres for blood pressure, as it works similarly but has been demonstrated to be more effective.
  • Propranolol: Considering clonidine vs. lisinopril, the second is considered a strong alternative to Catapres as it has minimal impact on the kidneys and fewer side effects.
  • Lisinopril: It works as an alternative for blood pressure regulation but requires yearly testing to make sure it is not damaging the body and can produce a dry cough, making it difficult to determine which is best between clonidine vs. propranolol.
  • Losartan: Helps to control blood pressure with fewer side effects. However, it does require a yearly check to ensure it is not harming the body.
  • Norvasc: This medication can lower blood pressure but is known for causing swelling. Missing a dose can be dangerous.
  • Toprol XL: This medication can control blood pressure and heart rate. It is not considered the first line of treatment.
  • Tenormin: This medication can control blood pressure and help in heart attack recovery. It is generally only used for blood pressure if it presents with heart disease.
  • Coreg: This medication is primarily used to prevent chest pain but can also lower blood pressure. It is typically only used in patients with heart failure or heart disease.
  • Microzide: This medication is just a water pill but can lower blood pressure. However, it is not good for those with reduced kidney function.
Before a user switches to drugs similar to clonidine, they need to consult with their doctor. Clonidine withdrawal may need to be managed and the user may need a period without medication to adjust.

Recovering From Abuse

If someone has been abusing clonidine, it is possible to recover. Drug addiction rehab centers can help those suffering from addiction get clean and find safer medications to use. With the right treatment of addiction, it is possible to live a sober life.

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  1. Highlights Of Prescribing Information: Kapvay. Shionogi Pharma. 2010.
  2. Dennison SJ. Clonidine abuse among opiate addicts. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2001; 72(2): 191-5.
Isaak Stotts

About Author

Isaak Stotts, LP

Isaak Stotts is an in-house medical writer in AddictionResource. Isaak learned addiction psychology at Aspen University and got a Master's Degree in Arts in Psychology and Addiction Counseling. After graduation, he became a substance abuse counselor, providing individual, group, and family counseling for those who strive to achieve and maintain sobriety and recovery goals.


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