The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) looks at trends in the aviation industry to see what is happening around addiction and substance use for professionals. For many professionals in the airline industry, there was an uptick in the use of drugs, particularly over-the-counter diphenhydramine, an antihistamine and active ingredient in cold formulas and sleep medication. Marijuana is another drug pilots are using more frequently, as well. The challenge is to figure out how to best support professionals in the airline industry who are struggling with addiction in recovery and need support to heal.

Stress and Hazards

One of the biggest challenges facing the airline professionals who wrestle with addiction is stress and anxiety on the job. This profession comes with a high degree of travel, less stability, and highly stressful situations. Some of the reasons for the stress can include:

  • High pressure situations
  • Need to be attentive to details
  • Working for long hours with little to no rest
  • Burn-out from stress and anxiety
  • Less access to holistic self-care practices or therapeutic support on the job
  • Flying in and out of different time zones which takes its toll on the body’s natural rhythms
  • Difficulty with nutritional support due to high level of travel involved and less access to healthy food on the job

Some health hazards include mental and physical health issues. Most commonly, airline professionals may wrestle with depression, anxiety, fatigue, isolation, and desire to self-medicate to cope.

Where to Seek Support

Treatment programs especially for airline professionals and other professionals are key to the success rate of recovery. Some other programs are designed to add support, but nothing beats treatment to get at the heart of a person’s challenges with addiction and work with them to heal for the long haul. Some of the programs a person may find helpful, aside from treatment, include:

  • The Human Intervention Motivation Study (HIMS): a substance abuse recovery program designed for pilots. Offers treatment for pilots with support of management and FAA
  • Birds of a Feather, Int’l: fellowship based on AA model and teachings, dedicated to pilots and airline crew members
  • Union referrals can provide great support for all personnel who work in the airline industry from pilots on down to fleet service personal, ticket agents, and others

There are myriad choices for people in the airline industry to choose from. The key is to find a program that supports their lifestyle, their needs, their goals in recovery, and provides anonymity and a schedule they can work with. Airline professionals are in a unique position with helping the public but also having their lives at stake every day. There is hope for healing no matter who you are or what your job is about. When you are ready to admit the need for help, it is available to you, just reach out and seek support from those you love and will guide you to the best place for your needs.

A Step in the Right Direction helps airline pilots, professionals, and others in the airline industry seek help for addiction in recovery. We teach people how to live a sober life through programs, therapeutic support, and evidence-based therapies. Our recovery program is staffed by people who understand the power of addiction. For more information sober living programs for men and women as well as recovery programs, call (877) 377-3702.