Abstract

Clonidine, an alpha-2-adrenergic agonist, significantly reduces opiate withdrawal. Fifteen heavy smokers abstained from cigarettes on three separate occasions and received instead clonidine, placebo, or the benzodiazepine alprazolam. Clonidine and alprazolam diminished withdrawal symptoms. The two drugs suppressed anxiety, tension, irritability, and restlessness equally but clonidine had a greater effect than alprazolam on cigarette craving. These observations suggest that noradrenergic activity is a common feature in the pathophysiology of withdrawal and that a special relationship exists between central noradrenergic activity and craving.