Sedative Prescribing for Fear of Flying

Having reviewed the latest evidence, Carlton Surgery will no longer prescribe sedatives for fear of flying. This policy decision has been collectively made by the GP Partners and is adhered to by all prescribers working in the practice.

The reasons for this can be found below:

Although plane emergencies are rare, taking Diazepam may impair your ability to concentrate, follow instructions and react to the situation. You may also put other people in danger by getting in their way or making them help you.

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 longer than 4 hours.

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, benzodiazepines are contraindicated (not allowed)  in phobia. Your doctor is taking a significant legal risk by prescribing against these guidelines. They are only licensed short term for a crisis in generalised anxiety. If this is the case, you should be getting proper care and support for your mental health and not going on a flight.

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. They may be confiscated or you may find yourself in trouble with the police

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 and we have listed a number of these below.