Use of Benzodiazepines (and related medications) for fear of flying

The Lodge Health Partnership has taken the decision not to prescribe Diazepam in cases where there is a fear of flying. There are a number of very good reasons for this, these are set out below:

  • 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, following instructions and react to the situation. This could have serious safety consequences for you and those around you.
  • Sedative drugs 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. The risk is even greater if your flight is greater than 4 hours.
  • Whilst most people find benzodiazepines like Diazepam sedating, a small number of people experience the opposite effect and may become agitated or aggressive. Benzodiazepines 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 national prescribing guidelines that doctors follow, benzodiazepines are not allowed to be prescribed in cases of phobia. Thus your doctor would be taking a significant legal risk by prescribing diazepam for fear of flying as it is going against guidelines. Benzodiazepines 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 and similar drugs 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:

Easy Jet –

British Airways –

Virgin –

You can also self-refer to the Hertfordshire Partnership Foundation Trust’s wellbeing Service for support with phobias and anxiety by calling 0300 777 0707 or www.hpft/nhs/uk/wellbeing-service.

Those still keen to be considered for prescribed medication will need to pursue this privately via an aviation specialist.