Flying Anxiety, Dental Anxiety and Jet lag Medication

Medication for fear of flying will no longer be prescribed by the Practice.

This also applies to sedatives for dental visits and for jet lag.

Patients who may have been prescribed benzodiazepines for fear of flying, for dental anxiety, for jet lag or to help aid sleep during flights will no longer be able to get these from us.

There are a number of good reasons for this:

  • Usually the medication that is prescribed is Diazepam which is a Class C/Schedule IV controlled drug. According to the prescribing guidelines (the British National Formulary) Diazepam is contraindicated (not allowed) for treating phobias. It also states that “the use of benzodiazepines to treat short-term ‘mild’ anxiety is inappropriate”.
  • Flight anxiety does not come under the remit of General Medical Services as defined in the GP contract, so we are not obliged to prescribe for this.
  • Although plane emergencies are rare, there are concerns about reduced awareness and reaction times for patients which could pose a significant risk to themselves and others due to not being able to react in a manner which could save their lives in the event of an emergency.
  • The use of these drugs can make you fall asleep which is an unnatural non-REM sleep. This means you don’t move around as much as during natural sleep. This could cause you to be at increased risk of DVT (or blood clots) in the leg or even lungs. This can, in some cases be fatal. This risk is even greater if your flight is greater than 4 hours.
  • Although Diazepam for most people is sedative, some people react with agitation and aggression. This can also cause disinhibition in a similar way to alcohol, which can cause you to behave in a way you wouldn’t normally behave and can pose a risk on the plane. This could impact on both your safety and the safety of other passengers, and could get you in trouble with the law. You could be removed from the flight.
  • Diazepam and other controlled drugs are illegal in a number of countries. They may be confiscated, or you may get in trouble with the law.

Patients who still wish to take benzodiazepines for flight or dental anxiety and for jet lag are advised to consult with a private GP.

Further advice and guidance can be found here: https://patient.info/news-and-features/how-to-manage-flight-anxiety

There are aviation industry recommended flight anxiety courses that are available, some of which can be found here:

https://www.fearlessflyer.easyjet.com/

https://www.britishairways.com/content/information/travel-assistance/flying-with-confidence

https://flywith.virginatlantic.com/gb/en/wellbeing-and-health/flying-without-fear.html

Further advice on jet lag can be found here:

https://patient.info/travel-and-vaccinations/health-advice-for-travel-abroad/jet-lag