Maryland's Tobacco Resource Center - Linking Professionals to Best Practices

Clonidine

Clonidine

How it works: 1

  • This medication is used primarily as an antihypertensive medication and has not yet been approved by the FDA. 
  • Clonidine reduces cravings for smoking by acting on the Central Nervous System to reduce symptoms of withdrawal.
  • Doses in various clinical trials have varied significantly as did the dose duration. 
  • Patients who engage in potentially hazardous activities such as operating machinery or driving, should be advised of a possible sedative effect of clonidine.

What the evidence says:

  • Strength of Evidence: A The Clinical Practice Guide states that clonidine is “a second line agent because of the warnings associated with clonidine discontinuation, variability in dosages used to test this medication, and lack of FDA approval” (DHHS, 2008, p.117).  Independent review indicated the clonidine is effective in promoting smoking abstinence, but prominent side effects limit its usefulness. 
  • Quitting Rates
    • Independent reviews have found that clonidine is almost 2 times more likely to be predictive of abstinence from smoking when compared to placebo in controlled clinical trials. 2

Possible Side Effects:

  • Dizziness
  • Sedation
  • Constipation
  • Dry mouth

Where to get it:

  • Clonidine is available through prescription only in both oral and transdermal forms.
  • Commercial brands include:
    • Catapres, Dixarit
References: 
  1. Fiore, M. C., Jaen, C. R., Baker, T. B., & al., e. (2008). Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence 2008 Update.  Clinical Practice Guideline. In U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (Ed.). Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
  2. Gourlay, S., Stead, L., & Benowitz, N. (2004). Clonidine for smoking cessation. Cochrane Database Of Systematic Reviews (Online), (3).