Clonidine Drug Class And Its FDA Classification

Last Updated: March 16, 2020

Authored by Isaak Stotts, LP

The clonidine drug class tells us a lot about the medication, from how it works to what it might treat. The clonidine classification is something that every user of the drug should know, despite the fact that few do. It is time to clear up misconceptions about the Catapres classification.

Is Clonidine A Controlled Substance?

When thinking about drug classification for Catapres, the first thing to look at is if it is a controlled substance or not. Keeping it simple, clonidine is not a controlled substance. At the same time, the patients are often confused with the term “controlled” and misunderstand it. This is because the way people use the term “controlled substance” varies. Therefore, the discussion below sheds light on the troubling issues related to clonidine classification as a drug.

Catapres is a prescription medication. As such, some might think that the clonidine classification is, in part, a controlled substance.

However, “controlled substance” is also an official term created by the Drug Enforcement Agency. When it is used by the DEA or by others referring to the DEA Drug Schedule, it specifically references medications and street drugs that are on the list of controlled substances.

Catapres is considered to be a drug with abuse potential, and all drugs on the DEA list of controlled substances are drugs of abuse. However, the potential for Catapres is so low that it does not make the DEA list.

Is Clonidine A Benzodiazepine?

Benzodiazepines are psychotropic medications that can be used for the treatment of anxiety, muscle tension, and even certain types of pain. These medications function by increasing the inhibitory neurotransmitter GABA in the brain. They are known for being highly addictive and are often abused.

Some might think the Catapres drug class is benzodiazepine because the medication can be used to treat pain and also has certain effects on the psychology of some users – especially those being treated for ADHD.

However, the Catapres classification is not a benzodiazepine. This is because the clonidine mechanism of action has nothing to do with increasing GABA in the brain. Given that this action is central to medications being classified as benzos, this cannot be the Catapres class.

clonidine classification

Is Clonidine A Narcotic?

Opiates are substances made from opium, synthetic opium, or actual opium. These medications are generally used to treat pain due to their ability to occupy the opioid receptors in the brain. One use of Catapres is the treatment of certain types of pain, which might lead individuals to believe it is a narcotic. However, it is not opium, an opium derivative, or synthetic opium, nor does it occupy the opioid receptors. As a result, narcotic is not the Catapres classification.

Is Clonidine A Beta-Blocker?

Catapres is used in the treatment of high blood pressure, so it is common for people to assume it must be a beta-blocker. Beta-blockers are perhaps the most well-known medications for controlling high blood pressure. They work by blocking the effects of adrenaline in the body. This results in a slower heartbeat that uses less force. They can also open the veins and arteries for better blood flow.

Catapres does slow heart rate and relaxes blood vessels for better circulation. However, the manner in which it achieves this is different than with beta-blockers. This means that beta-blocker is not the correct Catapres drug class

Alpha 2 Agonist medication

Is Clonidine An Alpha 2 Agonist?

The correct drug class for clonidine is alpha 2 agonist. This describes compounds that bind to and activate adrenergic alpha-2 receptors. In effect, this blocks the release and action of catecholamines that are released as a stress response—specifically, epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine. As a centrally acting antiadrenergic agent, Catapres can also make the heartbeat slower and with less force while also releasing tension from blood vessels.

Is Clonidine A Psychotropic Medication?

Another potential Catapres drug class is that of psychotropic medication. While this is not its primary class, it does make an accurate secondary classification.

Psychotropic drugs are those that impact behavior, mood, thoughts, or perception as a side effect or as their primary effect. Clonidine does this, which is why it is able to treat ADHD. This classification is also why it is sometimes abused purposefully.

Recovering From Clonidine Abuse

Although Catapres is considered a safe medication, abusing it is dangerous. Anyone who is misusing the medication needs to seek help before it is too late. By selecting the right drug rehab center, it is possible to get clean and live a sober life.

Page Sources

  1. Controlled Substances. U.S. Department Of Justice.
  2. Benzodiazepines and Opioids. National Institute on Drug Abuse. 2018.
  3. What Are Opioids? U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. 2018.
  4. Agency Psychotropic Medication List. Washington State Healthcare Authority.

Published on: March 16th, 2020

Updated on: March 16th, 2020

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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