14 Feb Catapres (Clonidine)
Catapres is a brand name drug, which consists of the generic clonidine in both tablet and transdermal patch form. It can also be injected, even via an epidural.
Catapres is a very wide-spectrum drug and is used to treat a variety of ailments such as anxiety, attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and hypertension; Catapres can also be used as a painkiller. More recently, doctors have begun prescribing the drug for insomnia and to relieve symptoms associated with menopause.
Clonidine has been used to treat hypertension since the 1950’s. More recently, however, researchers have discovered that the drug is also helpful in treating neuropathic pain, night sweats, and drug or alcohol withdrawal. Some veterinarians also use clonidine as an anesthetic.
Clonidine reduces blood pressure by acting on the body’s Alpha-2 adrenergic receptor, which is activated by epinephrine and norepinephrine. When reducing blood pressure, Catapres stimulates these brain receptors to reduce cardiac output and peripheral vascular resistance. It also reduces calcium levels in the brainstem, which blocks the release of norepinephrine. This mechanism is especially helpful during substance withdrawal.
For treatment of ADHD, doctors have found that Catapres, given in the late afternoon or at night, helps counteract the affects of ADHD day stimulants, allowing the patient to sleep. It also has been found to reduce impulse control and OCD problems in ADHA patients. For those with Tourettes, clonidine helps manage physical tics (sudden or repetitive body movements).
In addiction medicine, Catapres has proven to be very effective at moderating or reducing the painful symptoms of alcohol, drug or nicotine withdrawal. Because the drug affects the sympathetic nervous system, it can help control the dangerously fast heart rate and high blood pressure typically experienced by patients attempting to halt ingestion of addictive substances. Catapres also reduces sweating and dramatic changes in body temperature, while relieving the feeling of restlessness. Some patients in recovery find that the drug helps manage watery eyes or nose, diarrhea and irritability.
If a patient is withdrawing from alcohol, clonidine may need to be combined with a tranquilizer to provide the most effective relief. Some addiction professionals have used clonidine in place of methadone for patients who are addicted to heroin or morphine. Since clonidine itself can be addictive, to avoid withdrawal cessation of usage should occur over the course of several days.
Like most drugs, Catapres is not without side effects. It can cause the patient to be dizzy, lightheaded or have low blood pressure. When given to patients who are attempting to stop smoking, Catapres is typically given only to those who have not responded to other nicotine replacement therapies or Zyban, as these drugs tend to have more minor side effects. However, despite the side effects, Catapres has been proven to help patients quit smoking.
Although the FDA has approved clonidine for use in treating many different ailments, doctors (and drug companies) are always on the lookout for other uses of a particular drug. In the case of clonidine, psychiatrists have been using it to treat stress and anxiety, PTSD, and borderline personality disorder. Because it has a sedative effect, the drug also can be given to surgery patients during prep in order to calm them.
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