Fear of Flying




Tablets For Fear Of Flying - Why We Don’t Prescribe Them

Patients will sometimes ask our Doctors and Nurses to prescribe Diazepam, or similar drugs like Lorazepam, Temazepam or Clonazepam, to help with fear of flying, or to aid sleep during flights.

This isn’t something that is recommended for the following reasons:

  1. Although emergency situations on planes are very, very rare, taking Diazepam will reduce awareness and reaction times, so you risk not being able to react fast enough to save your life, or someone else’s, if an emergency did occur.
    • You may actually end up putting other people in danger unintentionally by getting in their way, or by needing help yourself.
  2. The use of these sorts of drugs can send you into an unnaturally deep sleep and you won’t move around as much as you would during natural sleep. This means that you will have a greater risk of developing a blood clot (Deep Vein Thrombosis - DVT) in your legs or lungs.
    • Blood clots are very dangerous, and can kill. This risk is even greater if your flight is longer than 4 hours!
  3. They have short-term bad effects on memory, coordination, concentration and reaction times, and can be very addictive if used for a long time, with withdrawal leading to fits, hallucinations, agitation and confusion. They have also become widely used drugs of abuse since they first came on the market.
    • Diazepam in the UK is a controlled drug.
    • The prescribing guidelines doctors have to follow say that use to treat short-term ‘mild’ anxiety is inappropriate. They are only to be used short term for a ‘crisis in generalised anxiety’ - If you are having such a crisis you are not likely to be fit to fly.
    • Fear of flying in isolation is not recognised as a generalised anxiety disorder.
  4. Some people may get agitated and aggressive after taking Diazepam or similar drugs, and might behave in a way that they would not normally, which can pose a risk on the plane.
    • This affects everyone’s safety and could get you into trouble with the law. A similar effect can be seen with alcohol, which has led to people being removed from flights.
  5. There is evidence that use of these drugs can stop the normal adjustment response that would gradually help anxiety over time, and may actually increase anxiety in the long term, especially with repeated use.
  6. Diazepam and similar controlled drugs are illegal in a number of countries.
    • They may be confiscated at the airport, or you could even find yourself facing criminal charges.
  7. Diazepam stays in your system for longer than you might expect.
    • If your job or sport needs you to have random drug testing you may fail this having taken Diazepam.
  8. It is important to tell your travel insurer about your medical conditions, and any medications that you take.
    • If not, there is a risk that your insurance policy will become void, and this can result in your insurer not paying out if you need to make a claim.

For these reasons, Hereford Medical Group will no longer be providing Diazepam or similar drugs for flight anxiety, including for patients who may have had this prescribed in the past.

Instead please try one of these aviation industry-recommended flight anxiety courses: