According to travelers, therapists and counselors, anti-anxiety drugs have become overwhelmingly popular among nervous fliers. Gone are the days of stiff drink calming the nerves. In today’s world, jet-setters remember to stash medications in their carry-on in the same way they remember a cheap paperback.
People want to take the edge off while they are airborne. Experts say the current environment of terrorism doesn’t help the matter, and people may be popping anxiety pills just like a child would candy. These experts, by the way, do not recommend them to fliers. There are many drugs available for this purpose, including a popular class called”benzodiazepines” that are prescribed for occasional use. It is likely that around 20% of the passengers on any flight are taking anxiety medications.
But what of these drugs? They are mostly safe, but there are certain risks that most people do not consider. For instance, you should never borrow a drug from someone else. This is the absolute, hard-and-fast rule about all prescription medication: never use someone else’s. Each pill bottle is prescribed on an individual basis. That friend’s doctor doesn’t know your medical history or what supplements you may be taking that could interact with the drug.
A second risk is using alcohol along with the anxiety medication, which many fliers are prone to do. Alcohol will make benzodiazepines far more powerful than they really are, and could have you sound asleep for far longer than you intended.
There is the risk that people may awaken on an airplane literally drugged from the medication. Of course, that is liable to send anxiety shooting through the roof. Though we can assume drug use is common among airline passengers, it’s impossible to measure just how common that would be. The majority of travelers will pop a pill without mentioning anything to a doctor. Of course, these drugs are making a difference for people who otherwise would have great difficulties getting on a plane, especially in today’s security-conscious world. For some, it is the only way they would fly.
There are natural options to consider, behavior-changing strategies that could reduce anxiety without the use of pills. Biofeedback, virtual reality therapy, hypnosis, and cognitive therapy are just a few of the proven treatments for airplane anxiety. Whatever the case, nobody should fear flying, as the reality is that getting in one’s car is far more dangerous than boarding a plane.
But anxiety is real and people must cope. Whatever you do, don’t borrow drugs from someone else. Ask your doctor for a solution to the problem that is not habit-forming.