According to the National Library of Medicine, clonidine is the most commonly used treatment for opioid withdrawal. However, “slowly decreasing… dosage[s] of methadone over time can reduce the intensity of withdrawal symptoms” as well and eventually wean the individual off opioid use. So which is better for opioid withdrawal: clonidine or methadone?
Clonidine vs. Methadone
There are advantages to both medications. Clonidine is an antihypertensive and methadone is an opioid agonist, which makes their side effects, reactions, and abilities to treat withdrawal very different. Part of the reason clonidine is the most commonly used treatment for withdrawal is because it can treat other syndromes besides those associated with opioids, including alcohol and nicotine withdrawal. Unfortunately, though, it does not treat some of the symptoms of opioid withdrawal the way methadone can. Below is a more in-depth comparison of these drugs in the treatment of opioid withdrawal.
- Clonidine can often be safer for withdrawal treatment because it does not have a high potential for abuse like methadone. Because methadone is an opioid agonist, it can cause euphoria when taken in high doses and is, therefore, sometimes abused. However, a study from the Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment states that their findings, “when coupled with the risk inherent in clonidine overdose, suggest that further research into the identification and treatment of clonidine abuse among methadone patients is warranted.”
- In general, clonidine cannot be used to treat the withdrawal symptoms of nausea and vomiting because the drug itself also causes these issues as normal side effects. Instead, other medications are usually given with clonidine to treat these symptoms. Contrarily, methadone can minimize these symptoms along with the others associated with withdrawal.
- Clonidine also cannot minimize cravings for opioids, as it is not an opioid-based substance. Methadone can, but it can often take high doses of the drug in order for cravings to be sufficiently reduced.
- Methadone is a treatment for opioid addiction too, as patients can be maintained on the drug. Clonidine is only approved to treat the withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid dependence, not the addiction syndrome itself.
Which is Better for Withdrawal Treatment?
Essentially, there is not one way of knowing whether methadone or clonidine will be better for your opioid withdrawal treatment without seeing a doctor and discussing the matter in depth. Some individuals prefer methadone and the slow tapering process while others choose clonidine because it is considered to be safer from abuse and carries less of a stigma. There are certain indicators, though, that can help you determine if one medication may be better for you.
Long-term opioid addicts often fare better with methadone treatment. This is because the drug is a safe and beneficial treatment for opioid addiction as well as withdrawal. Those who have become dependent while taking a prescription medication but were not abusing it or those who have not been addicted for a long time may benefit from starting out with clonidine treatment.
Even though these factors can help you determine which medication may suit your needs, it is very important for you to consult a doctor and begin a treatment plan under their care. Call 800-530-0431 today to find methadone centers in your area where you can talk to a doctor about your treatment options.