We are often asking to prescribe Diazepam (Valium) or other sedatives for fear of flying. We have recently agreed a practice policy that we will no longer prescribe these medications for fear of flying. This policy is adhered to by all prescribers working in the practice. The reasons for this can be found below:
- Diazepam is a sedative, which means it makes you more sleepy. If there is an emergency during the flight it may affect your ability to follow instructions and react to the situation. This could put the safety of you and those around you at serious risk.
- Sedative drugs make you fall asleep, however when you do sleep it is not a natural sleep so you won’t move around as you normally would. This can put you at increased risk of developing bloods clots in the leg (DVT) or lung (PE). Bloods clots are very dangerous and, in some cases, can be fatal.
- Sedative medications can affect your breathing and cause low oxygen levels. When you are on an aeroplane there is already less circulating oxygen so combined with sedative medications this can be very dangerous.
- Whilst most people find taking Diazepam makes them sleepy a small number of people become agitated and aggressive after taking the medication. This can put both yourself and other passengers on the plane at risk as well as get you into trouble with the law.
- According to the prescribing guidelines (BNF) followed by all doctors Diazepam is not allowed to be prescribed for phobias. Your doctor is taking a significant legal risk if they prescribe against these guidelines.
- Diazepam and similar drugs are illegal in a number of countries so they may be confiscated or the local police may be involved.
We appreciate that fear of flying is real and frightening. However, Fear of flying does not come under General Medical Services and so we are not obliged to prescribe for this. If you still wish to take Diazepam or any other sedative for fear of flying we advise you to consult with a private GP or travel clinic. Although a much better approach is to tackle this fear with a Fear of Flying course which we have listed some links below: