Addiction Information for Pilots

Unfortunately, pilots and addiction and alcoholism often go hand in hand. Their job is one that often requires a lot of long hours, and a lot of stress. It's no wonder so many of them turn to substances to cope.

If you're a pilot struggling with alcoholism or drug addiction, you need to know more. Your situation is not as uncommon as you may think it is. Getting the right information is the first step toward getting the help you need to recover.

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What is Addiction, and How are Pilots Affected?

An addiction is a condition that has a negative impact in a person's life. It involves repeatedly using a substance or participating in a particular behavior. After some time has gone by, these repetitive actions eventually become habitual. It isn't long before they become compulsive in nature. It is at that point that an addiction has formed.

Many experts refer to addiction as being a disease. It is a chronic condition that often involves relapsing. Recovery is an ongoing process and it isn't possible for an addiction to be cured.

Pilot Addiction Information

Pilots are affected by addictions in numerous ways. They often suffer from stress because of their careers, and their stressors are unique when compared to other jobs. To cope, they will frequently turn to alcohol or drugs. They believe they help them manage their stress. Some may even suffer from mental health conditions. For these individuals, substances offer a way to self-medicate without going to see a doctor.

Alcoholism is a known problem among pilots all over the country. It begins quite innocently. They may have a long layover, and decide to have several drinks in an airport restaurant. Or, they may need to spend a few nights away from home and choose to drink to pass the time.

Eventually, their abuse of alcohol will become an addiction. Before they know it, they may start looking for ways to bring alcohol on flights with them. On their days off, they may drink at all hours of the day or night. Most of the time, they manage to hold onto their jobs, but drinking is tearing their lives apart.

For many pilots, drug addiction takes the form of opiate misuse first. They may get prescriptions from their doctors to help with pain, and end up abusing them. Eventually, they can form an addiction to these drugs, and many pilots do.

Of course, opioid drugs are not the only substances that these professionals may choose to abuse. Some will smoke pot, use heroin, abuse cocaine, or use any number of other drugs. They do this because of the way that addiction changes the chemistry of the brain.

Over time, chronic drug use causes the brain to stop the production of serotonin, dopamine and endorphins. These are the chemicals that result in people feeling pleasure. For drug users, the substances they use cause excess amounts of them, and that excess is not absorbed. It is the surplus of these "feel-good" chemicals that causes euphoria.

When a drug addiction occurs, any time a drug is stopped, the addict experiences withdrawal. This is the result of not experiencing that euphoria. The absence of dopamine and other chemicals causes a reaction and the person begins craving drugs. Unfortunately for many pilots, this issue occurs far too often. Many find themselves to be addicted, but they don't know how to stop.

Pilots and Addiction: Stats, Facts and Treatment Options

An airline pilot is one of the most esteemed professions in the world. They are held to a high level of excellence in their jobs, and for good reason. Each day, a countless number of lives are placed in their hands as they maneuver planes through the skies. However, pilots are just as susceptible to drug and alcohol addictions as anyone else, and there are many pilots who suffer from addictions.

An addiction can happen to anyone, at any time. In some cases, it only takes one use of a drug to form an addiction to it; whether it's an illegal drug or a prescription medication.

If you're a professional pilot, and you have an addiction, it's important for you to understand as much as you can about it, and then learn where you can find the help you need to recover.

Addiction in Pilots: Statistics and Facts

Peter Bartos, who is a retired military pilot, was quoted in a recent Fox News article regarding pilots and addition as saying, "The general public probably has no idea that this abuse is occurring with such regularity." Addiction among pilots is occurring more and more frequently, and statistics tell us that:


There were more than 1,000 pilots investigated for addictions last year.


Between 2010 and 2015, 64 pilots were cited for violating drug and alcohol provisions.


In 2015, 38 pilots tested positive for one or more illicit drugs. These pilots all had their licenses revoked for their positive tests.


In a test conducted by the NTSB, 25% of study pilots (those who were fatally injured in a crash) tested positive for drugs or alcohol at least one time in the past.


In 1990, 10% of pilots who had been fatally injured in a crash had tested positive for some type of substance. By 2011, that percentage had increased to 40%.


Sedating antihistamines were the most commonly identified drug category in pilots who had died in a crash.

The number of pilots who have tested positive for marijuana has been steadily increasing over the last several years.

Many people don't realize that the acceptable BAC level for pilots is .04, compared to what it is in most states, which is .08. Pilots are actually not permitted to have any alcohol for at least eight hours prior to flying, but so many break that rule. The unfortunate problem is that not every pilot is tested prior to flying, and so, these rates may be much higher than the statistics show them to be.

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How Does Drug and Alcohol Abuse Begin for Pilots?

A pilot's lifestyle is much more hectic than most people realize. If you are a pilot, then you understand the stress that the job puts on you day to day. It is a taxing, grueling type of work that the average person could not manage.

Just some of the challenges pilots face include:

  • Having to be responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers every single day.
  • Having to maintain good mental health in order to perform their jobs.
  • Losing sleep because of immediate turn-around flights.
  • Spending many days away from their homes and families because of their schedules.
  • Keeping up with the demands of maintaining their knowledge base, and increasing it periodically as the industry changes and grows.

These challenges are incredibly stressful, and it's really not surprising that so many pilots turn to substances as a way to ease their mental pain and anguish.

For pilots, substance abuse begins in the same way it does for everyone. Perhaps a pilot chooses to misuse a medication he receives from the doctor; taking more than one dose at a time, or taking doses too close together. Or, it's possible that he might turn to alcohol as a way to ease his pain.

Addictions begin in a myriad of ways, but for the most part, they always begin with abuse. When a pilot abuses drugs or alcohol, he notices that he experiences temporary relief from the pain. The next time he experiences that pain (be it mental or physical), he'll reach for the same thing that caused the relief the first time. Over time, this becomes a pattern, and what he is doing is effectively training his brain to associate relief from the pain with drugs or alcohol.

Even so, it's important to note that drug or alcohol abuse is not the same as drug or alcohol addiction. During the abuse stage, substances can be used or left alone without experiencing any type of alcohol or drug withdrawal symptoms. Tolerance levels also remain the same, and they don't increase.

At What Point Does Addiction Occur for Airline Pilots?

An addiction can occur at any point once abuse has begun, and it's different for every person, and every substance. Once an addiction has taken hold, it's not possible for users to stop. In fact, they feel compelled to use their substance of choice, whether that's prescription medication, illegal drugs or alcohol.

Addiction occurs because the user has trained the brain and the body to expect certain substances at various times of the day or night. There are chemical changes that take place in the brain when alcohol or drugs are used, and once an addiction has taken hold, that can make it very difficult to stop using. For example, dopamine is one of the "feel good" chemicals in the brain. It is also a chemical that is related to survival. When you eat a delicious meal, your brain releases dopamine, for instance. When you use drugs or alcohol, you also experience a surge of dopamine, and over time, your brain begins to expect that surge. Without it, you don't feel like yourself.

One of the biggest reasons that pilots will continue to use drugs or alcohol is that without them, they just don't feel normal. They don't think they can function if they don't have these substances in their systems. As time goes by, their tolerance levels increase, and that means they need to increase how much alcohol they drink, or how much of their drug of choice they use in order to keep up with the brain's dopamine expectations. They also won't feel the same type of high or the same level of intoxication unless they increase how much they use during one sitting.

Unfortunately, the line between abuse and addiction is usually quite blurred, and a lot of that depends on how much or how often a substance is being used, what is being used, and the genetic factors of the user.

Signs of Addiction in Pilots

If you're a pilot, or you have a family member who is a pilot, it's possible that while you know that a drug or alcohol abuse problem exists, you're not completely sure whether or not it has crossed over into becoming an addiction. There are some signs you can look for that can help you determine that.

Some of the signs of an alcohol or drug addiction in a pilot might include:

  • Becoming very focused on the job, during the early part of the addiction.
  • Working longer hours in the beginning.
  • Losing contact with family and friends during downtime because that is time spent using.
  • Spending large amounts of money on alcohol or drugs.
  • Visiting multiple physicians in order to obtain prescription drugs (Doctor Shopping).
  • Becoming isolated from co-workers while working.
  • Going through withdrawal symptoms during long flights when there is no opportunity to use.
  • Finding that more drugs or alcohol are needed to experience the desired level of intoxication.

If any of these signs or symptoms are noticed, you can be fairly certain that there is an addiction in place. The best way to be sure is to talk with a professional in the addiction treatment industry. That individuals should be able to offer you guidance and direction as to what you should do next.

Quite often, pilots who get cited for drug or alcohol use will realize that they need to stop using. However, because of their busy work schedules, and the demands that are constantly placed upon them, they feel as though they don't have the time to go to drug or alcohol treatment. As a result, they will attempt to stop using on their own, without any type of professional help or intervention.

This can have disastrous results for a number of different reasons.

First of all, stopping the use of drugs or alcohol abruptly can result in serious medical problems and complications. There are some substances that require a period of detox before they should be stopped, which can help to eliminate these complications drastically. Some examples would be alcohol and some types of prescription drugs. Anyone who attempts to stop using these substances cold turkey runs the risk of developing:

  • Hallucinations or delusions
  • Delirium Tremens (DTs), which can be fatal
  • Grand Mal seizures
  • Heart complications
  • Liver and kidney complications
  • A stroke
  • A coma

Secondly, withdrawal symptoms can become very severe when drugs or alcohol are stopped, and even though a pilot may believe that he has it all under control, the chances are very good that he will experience severe withdrawal symptoms at some point. These symptoms can last anywhere from a few days to several weeks, or even months, which is very dangerous for a pilot while he is working.

Usually, withdrawal symptoms are too much for anyone to bear, and so, they go back to using just to get some relief from them. The biggest issue with this is that instead of using smaller amounts of drugs or alcohol, quite often, people will go back to their usual dosages. What they don't realize is that during the time when they had stopped using, their tolerance levels actually dipped; and in many cases, they went down to the level where they were when they first started using. This can be very problematic, because it can lead to an overdose, which can be fatal.

Stopping the use of drugs or alcohol cold turkey is never recommended for anyone, pilots included. Even though it may seem like the easiest way to stop using, more often than not, it does more harm than good. It is rarely an effective way to quit, and most people return to using within a short time period. This can only fuel the cycle of addiction, and make it much harder to stop using the next time an attempt is made.

What Type of Addiction Treatment is Available for Pilots?

There are several types of addiction treatment options available to pilots who want to stop using drugs or alcohol.

Of course, the first issue that must be dealt with is the physical withdrawal symptoms. These symptoms can quickly derail anyone's quit, so it's important for them to be treated immediately. This is done through a drug or alcohol detox.

Detoxification is the process of removing toxins from the body from the substances that have been used.

There are a number of different types of detox, and there is no one right method for everyone. For example, pilots who have been using prescription drugs may benefit from going through a type of detox where their medications are given to them in smaller doses over time. There are also medical detox options that involve giving patients medications that help to lessen the severity of their withdrawal symptoms and get rid of toxins much faster.

Many detox centers are beginning to utilize holistic detox as one of the best ways to begin addiction recovery. Holistic detox does not use medications because of the fact that some of the medications that are used for medical detox can become addictive as well. Instead, holistic detox relies upon diet and physical exercise to rid the body of toxins.

During inpatient drug or alcohol rehab, patients are expected to stay in the addiction treatment center for a period of around thirty days for treatment. During this time, they have the opportunity to meet with a counselor on a regular basis and discuss the issues that they believe may have led to their addictions.

Quite often, pilots aren't always completely sure what could have caused their addiction to begin, and these counseling sessions can provide them with an incredible amount of insight. If there are any co-occurring disorders present that need to be treated, such as depression or anxiety, these issues will also be addressed and treated by the counselor.

Group therapy is also a component that's important during inpatient rehab. Studies have shown that group therapy provides an additional type of counseling, and it's beneficial because it comes from a group of your peers. Patients will share their stories with each other and provide each other with unconditional support, which is essential for recovery.

For those who are not able to commit to an inpatient stay, intensive outpatient treatment, or IOP, offers another type of addiction treatment that may be more convenient. It is a higher level of care that is very similar to inpatient treatment, except that patients are able to live at home. There are group therapy meetings, sessions with an addiction therapist, and other types of therapy available during IOP. This option might be an attractive one to a pilot who doesn't get to see his family much because of his work, but prefers to live at home while he gets the help he needs.

There are a lot of different support groups that should be considered for pilots who want to get help for their addictions. These groups are available all over the world, and they have a long-standing reputation of being very beneficial.

Alcoholics Anonymous has been around for decades, and they specialize in helping those who suffer from alcoholism.

Narcotics Anonymous has also been around for a very long time, and this support group offers support and assistance to those who have drug addictions.

If you are a pilot who has a drug or alcohol addiction, you might not be sure which type of treatment would be right for you. The best way to find out is to contact a drug and alcohol rehab center and ask for a recommendation.

Help for Families of Addicted Pilots

Can Family Members Help Their Pilot Loved Ones Seek Help?

Nothing is quite as heartbreaking for a family than knowing they have a loved one who is suffering from an addiction. Usually, the family members realize the addiction is present before the addict does, and yet, communicating their concerns is often quite difficult for them. If you have attempted to talk with a member of your family who is a pilot who has an addiction, and your pleas are not being heeded, there are other steps you can take.

Scheduling an intervention is a very effective way to communicate the need for drug and alcohol treatment. Many substance abuse clinics offer this service, and they will do it in any location you prefer.

During an intervention, friends and family of the addicted individual will gather together, and addiction treatment professionals will be there as well to facilitate. Your loved one will attend and will listen to everyone's concerns. The goal is for this to be done with an open mind, and quite often, with so many voices expressing their concerns, those who are addicted are willing to immediately enter into professional treatment.

You do have options if you have a loved one that is a pilot in need of professional help for an addiction, and an intervention might be the tool you need.

What Does Addiction Recovery Look Like for Pilots?

Sometimes people think of recovery for an addiction the same way they think of it for an illness. Recovering from a cold is much different than recovering from an addiction. When you have an addiction, it is a life-long process that is never fully complete.

Recovery is something that is always to be strived for, and it is possible to remain in recovery long-term. Millions of people around the United States do it every year.

As a pilot who is recovering from an addiction, if you have had your license suspended or put on hold, you may be able to activate it again with the right treatment. You'll find that you get much more joy out of your work than you did when you were using because you're not always looking for the next high. You'll find that your focus increases while you're working, and your family relationships will be so much stronger.

The most important thing to remember is that addiction recovery is ongoing, and so refraining from the use of any type of drugs or alcohol is absolutely crucial for you in order to reap the benefits of it. It can be done, and you can achieve long-term sobriety.

Airline pilots with addictions are actually much more common than most people realize. People often tend to think of those who have high-level, professional careers as being immune to the problem of drug and alcohol addiction. Unfortunately, that is not the case at all. These individuals are just as prone to becoming addicted as those in blue collar jobs, and in some cases, they may even be more prone because of the demands of their jobs.

Pilots are among those who have a high risk for becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, which can put their careers in great jeopardy. Perhaps you're an airline pilot with an addiction to either alcohol or drugs, and you have a lot of questions about what this will mean for your career, how to know if you're addicted, and many other topics. Fortunately, you're in a good place to get some great and relevant information that pertains to what you need to know.

Pilots have addiction rates that are actually quite comparable to those of legal professionals, doctors and top executives at major corporations. Your job is a stressful one that keeps you away from your family and friends for long periods of time. Because of this, sometimes turning to substances is the best way you can think of to get some relief from the stress and aggravation that you face each day. Over time, that can develop into an addiction. However, you might not be sure if you've crossed the line into an addiction, or if it's just drug abuse at this point.

There are some key indicators that might help you understand your own relationship with alcohol or drugs as a pilot. You may have an addiction if:

  • You spend a lot of time thinking about when you will be able to use again.
  • You've ever thought about how you can use and not get caught by substance abuse screening methods.
  • You spend a lot of your down time using and isolating yourself from the people you love the most.
  • You've become hyper focused on your work, and have even asked for more hours.
  • You've tried to stop using drugs or alcohol, but found that you weren't able to.
  • You've thought about getting help for your drug or alcohol problem.
  • You experience withdrawal symptoms if you haven't used drugs or alcohol in quite some time.

Do any of the above apply to you? If so, an addiction to drugs or alcohol is likely, and drug or alcohol treatment is definitely something you should be considering right away.

The FAA conducts tests for airline pilots to determine whether or not they have traces of drugs or alcohol in their systems. Many believe that the FAA regulations for 2017 are not as strict as they should be. According to their own FAA guidelines, the minimum random alcohol and drug screening percentages will remain at 25% for random drug screenings and 10% for random alcohol screenings. These rates are based on the percentage of positive tests that have been discovered during the previous year, and should that percentage increase, the number of random screenings will be reevaluated, and possibly adjusted.

While the FAA does have their regulations in place, usually, airlines have a separate set of regulations that must be adhered to. For example, American Airlines' substance abuse policy is strict, and it includes random drug and alcohol screenings, as well as screenings for pilots who are suspected to be under the influence of alcohol or drugs, based on a number of identifying factors. Screening tests are conducted with the use of urine tests, or breathalyzers or both, in some instances.

Other than alcohol, there are five different drugs that airplane pilots are randomly tested for as required by the FAA. These drugs were recommended by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, and they are believed to be the most common and the most worrisome when it comes to abuse and addiction. These drugs are:

  • Opiates (such as codeine, heroin and morphine)
  • Amphetamines
  • Methamphetamines
  • PCP
  • Marijuana

The tests that are completed are two-fold. Airline pilots are given a screening test to look for a positive result that someone may have used drugs. If that test is positive, the sample goes on to be tested in a confirmation test. If the second test is positive, this indicates with absolute certainty that the individual did use.

It is important to note that testing for these five specific drugs, along with alcohol, goes along with FAA guidelines. However, specific airlines may have additional tests for other types of drugs as well. There are hundreds of other possibilities.

If there is a reasonable case for suspecting that you are under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and you attempt to fly, the airline is within their rights to perform a random drug or alcohol screening test. At that point, if there are traces of drugs or alcohol in your body that are picked up by the test, you will most likely be pulled from your flight and arrested for trying to fly while intoxicated or under the influence.

Even though arrests in these cases do occur, most airline pilots are not sentenced to jail time for using. Instead, they are offered the option of getting professional help through a qualified addiction treatment center. Drug rehab or alcohol rehab is a much better option because it will provide you with the help you need so that you can get your life and your career back on track.

If you are caught with a positive screening test, and it is your first offense, most likely, you will be removed from flying for a period of time that will be discussed with you by your supervisor. Usually, the first offense doesn't necessitate the removal of your pilot's license, or any other disciplinary action. However, every airline is different, and they all have their own policies with regard to the removal of pilot licenses for substance abuse and addiction.

After the first offense, treatment will be recommended and you'll be expected to comply. Your treatment may last for a very long time, and it's not uncommon for the FAA or even some airlines to recommend long-term treatment that lasts up to a year, or even longer in some cases. However, if this is a second offense, it is possible that you will experience employee discipline that includes revoking your license and termination.

Are Addicted Airplane Pilots Ever Allowed to Return to the Skies?

Pilots with addictions do often return to the skies, but only after they've gotten help for their substance abuse problems. This will entail a rigorous drug or alcohol treatment plan that may include inpatient or outpatient treatment.

The good news is that as many as 87% of airline pilots who go to addiction treatment end up being able to return to work, and among them, only 13% were found to have relapsed later on. Those who relapsed most likely lost their licenses and were no longer able to be employed by any airline.

Airline Pilots: Reasons for Addiction and Ways to Cope

Research shows that approximately 40% of all airplane pilots who are killed in non-commercial airplane crashes in recent years have medications in their systems. This is an incredible increase in this statistic when compared to previous decades.

Reasons for Addiction in Pilots

It cannot be denied that addiction among pilots is a growing concern that needs to be addressed. However, it's also important to understand the reasons behind the rise in addiction too.

If you're an airline pilot, and you believe that you may have an addiction to drugs or alcohol, this is information that you will find to be incredibly useful. Let's talk about what some of the most common reasons for addictions are among your profession, and things you can do to cope with your hectic, stressful career.

As a pilot, every time you sit down in the cockpit of an airplane, you have a tremendous responsibility. Hundreds of people are sitting behind you, and they've all placed their lives in your hands. These are people who don't know you, and who have never even shaken your hand, and yet, they trust you. That is such an incredible weight on your shoulders, and it's a weight that never really goes away.

Some pilots take this responsibility in stride, and many even claim that they enjoy the challenge of knowing that so much depends upon them. However, there are many pilots who aren't able to cope with that level of pressure, or at least, they're not able to cope with it for long. It can be so difficult to know that you're in charge of ensuring the safety of so many people day in and day out. Sometimes you don't even get a break from having that weight on your shoulders because as soon as you finish a flight, you're boarding another airplane to begin another. That type of stress is so taxing, and it's understandable for you to have a need for some way to get some relief. That is just one reason why so many stressed pilots turn to addictions.

In order to perform your job correctly, you have to maintain a high level of focus as a pilot. Diligence is absolutely necessary if you're going to perform everything correctly, and the need to make adjustments can happen without any notice while you're in flight. Excellent mental health and clarity is essential if you're going to maintain the necessary level of focus, and this is something that many pilots struggle with.

Additional challenges are presented when pilots need to remain focused during long distance flights. In today's day and age, an airliner's entire flight can be programmed, which means that once the program is activated, as long as everything goes according to plan, there isn't much input that's needed from the pilot at all. Of course, this can lead to problems when there is turbulence, or when simple adjustments need to be made.

CNN cites a story of two pilots who lost track of time when they started using their computers to look at scheduling software during a flight. They missed their destination by 150 miles and they didn't pay attention to their instruments, or to air traffic controllers. As a result, they lost their licenses.

Maintaining focus is critical, even with today's technology. This is difficult on pilots, and it can cause a great deal of mental stress and strain.

Sleep deprivation is a serious problem among pilots. When you consider nighttime departures, early morning arrivals and having to adjust to several different time zone changes in the same day, it's no wonder that so many pilots are sleep deprived. There have been many stories in the news about pilots who fell asleep on both long and short flights because of the demands placed on them by airlines.

Fatigue is a very serious problem among pilots, and it can cause them to make drastic errors in their judgment. Some studies have even shown that when pilots are deprived of as little as one night of sleep, the number of errors they made during test flights doubled. In fact, problems generally occur when:

  • The awake period is longer than 16 hours
  • The sleep period prior to duty is shorter than 6 hours
  • The airline pilot is expected to work during his usual sleeping hours

It should come as no surprise that many pilots turn to drugs like amphetamines to help them stay awake longer during their flights. It seems like it would be a simple solution to a much bigger problem.

Harvard researchers have made a startling discovery when taking a closer look into the number of airline pilots who struggled with depression. Their research found that close to 13% of airline pilots met the criteria for clinical depression. Also, 4% of those pilots reported having suicidal thoughts. When pilots were surveyed, of those who had flown a plane in the last seven days, close to 14% of them met the criteria for clinical depression.

Depression is a serious problem, and it can quickly lead to suicidal thoughts among those who suffer from it; pilots included. Depression in pilots can stem from any number of places, but most often, it is due to the amount of time they need to spend away from home and away from their families. Of course, there are other issues that can come into play as well. For example, the stress of the job, being deprived of sleep, and having such a heavy load of responsibility can all play into bouts of depression for pilots.

Typically, airplane pilots maintain a very busy schedule, and instead of choosing to get professional help, they will self medicate. Prescription medications, illegal drugs and alcohol all serve as ways for them to "treat" their symptoms of depression without having to worry about taking time away from their jobs to get help.

If you are an airline pilot, then you undoubtedly understand the demands of your position. You know that you spend a great deal of your time in the air, and because of the level of knowledge you're expected to maintain, you are right to expect a fairly high salary.

A pilot's salary is completely dependent upon the type of aircraft he or she is flying. The median annual salary for a pilot who flies large jets is more than $120,000 per year. For smaller jets, it is just over $100,000 per year, and for even smaller planes, the salary is significantly less.

Financial stress is something that everyone faces at one point or another, but pilots frequently complain about the amount of money they get paid to do their jobs. Many pilots have a hard time being able to pay their bills on time, and as a result, they often get into debt, which can lead to symptoms of depression and stress. It's not surprising that in order to cope, many of them turn to substances. If you have also turned to substances as a way to handle financial stress, then you completely understand.

Coping Methods Addicted Pilots Can Use Instead of Substances

The good news is that even though pilots are faced with so many challenges, there are a lot of different things they can do to cope with the stress, rather than turning to substances. For example, pilots can:

Confide in Friends

Confide in Close Friends

Having someone you can talk to about what you're going through can make such a big difference in how you feel. Quite often, pilots feel as though they have to maintain an image of strength; like they have it all together and nothing rattles them. This, of course, is not true at all. Finding a confidant can make a world of difference in how you feel.

Keep a Journal

Keep a Journal

Sometimes it's not enough to have someone you can talk to, or perhaps there isn't anyone you can trust to discuss your struggles with. If that is the case, keeping a journal can often serve the same type of purpose for you. Writing down how you're feeling in your journal gives you an outlet so that you can find the strength to keep going.

Healthy Lifestyle

Maintain a Healthy Lifestyle

Quality food helps with detox. The food you eat and the amount of exercise you get both play crucial roles in your overall health and well-being. Maintaining a healthy lifestyle will help you feel better, improve your focus and keep you steady in situations when you have to have clarity and focus.

Professional Counseling

Consider Professional Counseling

There should be no shame in finding a professional counselor or therapist, and some of the greatest minds in the world have had to rely upon counseling to help them make it through their toughest challenges. Counseling can be so helpful to airline pilots because it gives them a place to vent about what they're dealing with and going through, and it also provides incredible insight into ways to solve many of the various problems they're facing while they're on the job.

Resources for Addicted Pilots

Airline pilots are prone to become addicted to drugs and alcohol because of their stressful work situations, being away from their families on a regular basis, and lack of sleep. There are so many reasons why airplane pilots turn to substance abuse as a way to soothe the stress they experience, and if you're a pilot who is addicted to drugs or alcohol, or you suspect that someone you know is, it's important for you to have the right resources available to you.

Inpatient treatment is what most people think of when they are trying to make a decision about addiction treatment. As a pilot, the idea of staying in a facility for a short period of time might seem to be something that would be too intrusive into your life. You would definitely need to take some time off from work so that you can concentrate on your treatment, but it's time that will be spent wisely.

Whether you have an addiction to drugs or to alcohol, getting the right kind of treatment is vital for your successful recovery. Depending on the types of substances you've been using, you may need to spend some time going through drug or alcohol detox so that you can get them out of your system. Detoxification can help to reduce the time you spend having withdrawal symptoms, and it can provide you with a much safer recovery without medical complications.

Inpatient alcohol and drug rehab is highly recommended for pilots who have addictions because you need to take the time away from your stressful job so that you can focus on the healing process, and focus on finding the source of your addiction. Only then can proper healing take place.

Outpatient treatment is an option you may want to consider if you aren't able to take the time off to go to inpatient care. You can set up your outpatient appointments for the days that you have off, which will make getting help for your addiction really convenient for you.

During your appointments, you'll meet with a therapist who specializes in addiction treatment, and you'll talk about the issues that possibly led to your addiction. Many times, addictions are caused by traumatic events that people can't remember. If this is the case for you, your therapist can help you figure out the reasons behind your addiction.

It's also possible that you might be able to attend some group therapy meetings during outpatient treatment as well.

Perhaps alcohol is the substance you're struggling with. It's something you turn to when you spend countless hours away from your family because of your job, it relieves stress and it temporarily helps you to feel better about your situation. Even so, you know that this needs to change, but you're not sure how to change it.

Alcoholics Anonymous might be a solution you should consider. There are AA meetings being held all over the United States, so even if you're gone for a long time because of your job, you can still find one that's close to you. AA meetings are support groups that are free of charge, and the participants are all people just like you who want to recover from their alcohol addictions.

Whether you're addicted to heroin, prescription drugs or marijuana, if you're looking for an outpatient support group, Narcotics Anonymous offers you a great solution. Narcotics Anonymous is just for those who are addicted to any type of drug, and they follow the 12 Step program of recovery. Usually, meetings are held on a weekly basis, and just like AA, you can find NA meetings anywhere in the country.

Alcohol and Drug Treatment for Pilots: AA and NA Meetings Online

It's possible that you're worried about going to meetings in person, although you do like the idea of going to Narcotics Anonymous or Alcoholics Anonymous. Regardless of your reasons, there are many different ways you can attend these meetings online, rather than going in person. The following sites are just a few of your options:

Narcotics Anonymous A website that offers two daily meetings and an open chat room for participants.

NA Recovery: A website that offers one meeting in the evenings, seven days a week, and that also has an open chat room.

Alcoholics Anonymous

Online Intergroup: A worldwide website that offers regular AA meetings and chat opportunities, along with global events. A website that offers several meetings during the week and chat rooms.

Many people consider the idea of working with a therapist when they're ready to work on addiction recovery, but it's possible that you've never thought of that as an option. Therapists can actually be very helpful, and many of them specialize in treating addictions. A lot of them also participate in a variety of health insurance plans, which means you can easily keep your costs low.

If you are interested in finding a therapist near you, Psychology Today offers a search feature that can help you find one that specializes in addiction treatment.

Do You Know an Addicted Pilot?

If you know a pilot who struggles with addiction, it can put you in a very difficult position. You want to help your colleague, but you also need to protect the passengers that he or she would be flying. You can safely contact someone in charge at the airline and let that person know of your suspicion anonymously. Here is the contact information for a number of different airlines:

America West Logo

America West Airlines
Nat Fuqua

American Airlines Logo

American Airlines
Mike Galante

Delta Logo

Chairman Scott Monjeau
Co-Chair Warren Mowry

FedEx Logo

Chairman Marc Grassie

JetBlue Logo

Jet Blue
Jeff Lindgren

Skywest Logo

Chairman Mike Goodrich
Vice Chair Jeff Hughes

SouthernAir Logo

Southern Air
Mark South

Southwest Logo

Michael Muller
Vice Chair Chris Steed

United Logo

United Airlines
Chairman Margaret Hendrix
Vice Chair Sean McKeown

UPS Logo

Lyndon Shumaker
Co-Chair Ben Ogburn

USAir Logo

US Airways
John Brookman

VirginAmerica Logo

Virgin America
Charles Kinney

Help for Pilots with a Drug or Alcohol Addiction

It's no secret that there can be some serious consequences for you if you decide to fly after you've used drugs or alcohol. In fact, you may believe that you really don't have a problem with an addiction, but that you're only abusing drugs or alcohol. So many people live in denial that they have addictions, and that denial could cost you or license, and or your career.

You need to know the truth. Take the steps you need to take today to protect your career, your health and your life.

Talk to a Rehab Specialist

Our admissions coordinators are here to help you get started with treatment the right way. They'll verify your health insurance, help set up travel arrangements, and make sure your transition into treatment is smooth and hassle-free.

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