Helping Alcoholics Deal With Withdrawals
In order for alcoholics to enter recovery they will first need to pass through a period of withdrawals. For most people these symptoms will be mild – never much worse than flu symptoms. There are also now a number of medications that can make the process from addiction to withdrawals pass more comfortably. One of the drugs that can be of value in the treatment of alcohol withdrawals is Clonidine. This pharmaceutical product is not a wonder drug but it can help significantly reduce the experience of some unpleasant symptoms.
Clonidine is a type of drug known as a centrally acting alpha-agonist hypotensive agent. It is commonly used in the treatment of high blood pressure (hypertension). It does this by reducing the heart rate and relaxing blood vessels. Clonidine is also a type of drug known as a sympatholytic – this means that it inhibits Postganglionic nerve fibers which in turn alter the functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. It comes in tablet form.
Uses of Clonidine
Clonidine is used in the treatment of a number of conditions including:
- Antihypertensive – it lowers blood pressure
- It can be used for the treatment of panic attacks and anxiety disorder.
- It can help with insomnia
- Treatment of neuralgia
- It is used in conjunction with stimulants to treat attention deficit disorder.
- It can be used for dealing with tics associated with Tourette syndrome.
- Treatment of menstrual cramps
- To reduce tachycardia (high pulse rate).
- Restless leg syndrome
- Treatment of restlessness
- Post traumatic stress disorder
- Treatment of night sweats
- Symptoms associated with menopause such as hot flushes.
- It can be used as mild sedative given to people prior to surgery to help them relax.
- Local anesthetic.
- Treatment for Rosacea (chronic facial redness).
- It is used in the treatment of addiction withdrawal symptoms.
Potential Side Effects of Clonidine
There have been a number of potential side effects associated with Clonidine including:
- It can cause people to develop a dry mouth.
- Some people who use this drug will develop constipation.
- It can lead to episodes of hypotension.
- The individual may experience dizziness.
- It may lead to drowsiness.
- Allergic reactions
- Mood changes
- Body rashes
- Cold hands and feet
- Problems with breathing.
- Swelling on the body.
Some of these side effects are rare and most people who take the drug will not have any problems. It is important not to just stop using Clonidine without first speaking to a physician. If the individual abruptly comes off this drug it can cause them to experience:
- Blood pressure that is elevated to dangerously high levels.
- Nervousness and agitation.
Alcohol Withdrawals Explained
If people have developed a physical dependence on alcohol they will suffer symptoms should they suddenly stop drinking or significantly reduce their intake. It can even be the case that the bad hangover symptoms that some alcoholics experience before the first drink of the day can be the result of these withdrawals. If people decide to enter recovery they are likely to experience some initial symptoms which can include:
- Nausea and vomiting
- Upset stomach
- Feelings of irritability
- Mood swings
- Cravings for alcohol
- A type of mental fuzziness – the person feels like their mental functioning is compromised.
- Mild symptoms of depression.
- When people do fall asleep they may experience intense nightmares.
- Body aches.
- Sweating or clammy skin.
- Poor concentration and focus.
- Feelings of anxiety – the individual is easily startled.
- Changes to blood pressure and pulse.
In some instances the individual can experience a particularly dangerous form of withdrawal symptom known as delirium tremens (DTs). It is possible for people to die if they enter this level of withdrawal so they need to be medically supervised. Symptoms of DTs include seizures and intense hallucinations.
Clonidine for Alcohol Withdrawals
Clonidine is now sometimes used in the treatment of alcohol withdrawals. It is believed to help reduce a number of associated symptoms including:
- Mild depression
- Elevated blood pressure