FEAR OF FLYING
MPA Group practices does NOT prescribe sedatives for fear of flying.
This policy has been decided by the directors and lead clinicians and is adhered to by all prescribers working in the practice. The reasons are:
- Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you sleepy and more relaxed. If there is an emergency during the flight it may impair your ability to concentrate, follow instructions and react to the situation. This could have serious safety consequences for you and those around you.
- Sedative medication can make you fall asleep, however, when you do sleep it is an unnatural non-REM sleep. This means you won’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This can cause you to be at increased risk of developing a blood clot (DVT) in the leg or even the lung. Blood clots are very dangerous and can even prove fatal. This risk is even greater if your flight is greater than 4 hours.
- While most people find benzodiazepines like diazepam sedating, a small number have worsening agitation and aggression. They can also cause disinhibition and lead you to behave in a way that you would not normally. This could impact on your safety as well as that of other passengers and could also get you into trouble with the law.
- According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow (BNF) Benzodiazepines are not allowed for treating phobias, as they have been shown to be unhelpful. In fact, studies have shown more anxiety on a second flight when these medicines are used on a first flight as they suppress the person’s ability to adjust to the difficult situation. Your doctor would be taking a significant legal risk by prescribing against these guidelines.
- Diazepam and similar medicines are illegal in a number of countries. They may be confiscated, or you may find yourself in trouble with the police.
- Diazepam stays in your system for quite a while. If your job requires you to submit to random drug testing, you may fail this having taken diazepam.
We appreciate that fear of flying is very real and very frightening. A much better approach is to tackle this properly with a Fear of Flying course run by the airlines. We have listed a number below: