Sedative Prescribing for Fear of Flying

Otford Medical Practice does NOT prescribe sedatives for fear of flying/helping to sleep on a flight. This policy decision has been made by the GP Partners and is adhered to by all prescribers working in the practice for the following reasons:

  1. If there is an emergency during the flight it may impair your ability to concentrate, follow instructions and react to the situation around you.
  2. 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 can be dangerous and in some cases fatal. This risk is even greater if your flight is longer than four hours.
  3. Whilst most people find sedating drugs calming, in a small number of people it can cause agitation and in aggression. This could impact on your safety as well as that of other passengers and crew.
  4. According to the prescribing guidelines doctors follow hypnotic drugs are contraindicated (not allowed) in phobias. 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.
  5. 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.

Published: May 24, 2023