Fear of Flying
Statham Grove stance on prescribing diazepam for fear of flying
We will not prescribe Diazepam for patients who wish to use this for a fear of flying.
We have made this decision following team discussion, in line with the approach of other practices and with reference to national guidelines for the following reasons:
1. Diazepam is a sedative. This means the medication makes you sleepy and more relaxed. If there were to be an emergency during the flight, this may impair your ability to concentrate, follow instructions or react to the situation. This could seriously affect the safety of you and the people around you.
2. Sedative drugs may make you fall asleep, yet the sleep they provoke is an unnatural, non-REM sleep. This means your movements during sleep are reduced and this can place you at an increased risk of developing blood clots (DVT). These blood clots are dangerous and can even prove fatal. This risk further increases if your flight is over 4 hours long.
3. Although most people respond to benzodiazepines like Diazepam with sedation, a small proportion experience the opposite effect and may become aggressive, disinhibited or behave in ways they normally would not. This could impact your safety and the safety of your fellow passengers.
4. National prescribing guidelines do not support the use of benzodiazepines in cases of phobia. Benzodiazepines are only licensed for short-term use in a crisis in generalised anxiety. If you are suffering this sort of crisis, you should seek proper care and support for your mental health, and it would not be advisable to go on a flight.
5. In several countries, diazepam and similar drugs are illegal. They would be confiscated, and you might find yourself in trouble with local authorities for being in control of an illegal substance.
6. Diazepam has a long half-life. This means it stays in your system for a significant time and you may fail random drug testing if you are subjected to such testing as is required in some jobs.
We appreciate a fear of flying is very real and very frightening and can be debilitating. However, there are much better and effective ways of tackling the problem. We recommend you tackle your problem with a Fear of Flying Course, which is run by several airlines. These courses are far more effective than diazepam, they have none of the undesirable effects and the positive effects of the courses continue after the courses have been completed.
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