Medication

elektrobank

New member
Has anyone had any luck with medication for flying? I don't really get anxiety any more from flying, I just feel really uncomfortable the entire flight. I can't really relax and the flight seems like it takes forever when you feel this way the whole time. During turbulence I get sweaty palms and my heart races, I hate it! I've read that some people use Xanax or dramamine before a flight. Is this just to ease anxiety, or will it help you relax and deal with the turbulence better? Anything else to look into? I never take any drugs of any kind, but I'm desperate! I've been putting off or even skipping out on a lot of trips because of this, it really sucks.
 

pinworm

Lifetime Elite
Has anyone had any luck with medication for flying? I don't really get anxiety any more from flying, I just feel really uncomfortable the entire flight. I can't really relax and the flight seems like it takes forever when you feel this way the whole time. During turbulence I get sweaty palms and my heart races, I hate it! I've read that some people use Xanax or dramamine before a flight. Is this just to ease anxiety, or will it help you relax and deal with the turbulence better? Anything else to look into? I never take any drugs of any kind, but I'm desperate! I've been putting off or even skipping out on a lot of trips because of this, it really sucks.

Yes, benzodiazepines are effective. This group includes Alprozolam (Xanax), Ativan (Lorazepam), Valium (Diazepam), Clonopin, Halcion (Triazolam) and other short acting benzos. The most commonly prescribed one is Lorazepam because it is the mildest and while is removes anxiety, it doesn't sedate to the same degree as the others..although it DOES sedate a little. The advantage of benzodiazepines is that they are short acting..meaning the effect lasts for 2.5 hours or so..so by the time you get to where you are going, you are still able to function and drive a car etc. For longer flights, say over 5 hours..get a long acting benzo like Temazepam.

My thing with turbulence is not fear of crashing, but fear of vomitting. I get airsick..and I fly twice a week..so you can imagine how much I have to avoid turbulence. I take Lorazepam in combination with Scopalamine for motion sickness..and it works. Firstly, the anti-anxiety aspect of the benzo removes the worrying about it, and if strong enough, even makes you enjoy it a bit. But most of the time I just fall right asleep and don't wake up until the wheels touch down so I don't notice. Another thing about benzos is that they cause amensia...so you don't really remember the flight afterwards, or bumps that happened 20 minutes ago, which helps! During bumps you cannot remember is this is a bumpy flight or not!

Initially I just had the scrip for the Scopalamine..which helped with nausea but did not wipe it out completely. In combo with the benzo though, I have YET to even feel a twinge of nausea and I have had some rough ones this winter. At least I think I did!!

Some advice though. Benzodiazapenes are addictive and tolerance increases quickly, so if you get some, ONLY take them when you fly. Don't take them just because you are nervous or angry or feel like getting a buzz. You will be okay if you don't take them more than twice a week...Lorazepam is the lowest, least likely one to get addicted to, and Xanax the most..but still. Avoid temptation.

NEVER combine them with alcohol. EVER EVER EVER. They are contraindicated..the benzo increases the alcohol effect and the alcohol increases the benzo effect. Almost all accidental fatalities from benzos are the result of takiing them with alcohol.

NEVER combine them with Dramamine (dimenydrinate, diphenhydramine, meclizine) or any antihistimine like Benadryl or other cold/allergy meds. Same deal..over sedation, coma, death.
 

Pixie

New member
Hey Elektrobank

Hey Elektrobank

Ugh yes, can totally relate to the panic attack during turbulence thing. I take Xanax (a benzodiazepine) prior to my flights to relieve myself of the symptoms which you described above. Generally, I'll only start to feel the symptoms of a panic attack during moderate turbulence where in my head I'm thinking (omfg this sucks, I want to be on the GROUND). I'll get the numb hands, face, tingling at my lips and on the top of my head, my heart will go upwards of 150 beats per minute, I'll feel faint, but weirdly enough I never do faint (even though I would gladly welcome it, if it shortened the flight lol). So yes, it SUCKS, and YES a 2 hour flight can strech on for an eternity.

The drugs can be helpful for this, I fly at least 5-8 flights per week for my job (thanks job!) and taking about 1.5 mg (3 tabs) will do the trick. There is a cessation in my physical symptoms, but I still WORRY if I'm in the air and it's rocking constantly. As pinworm mentioned, you DO become quite tolerant quickly and they are addictive. I will only take them if I'm expecting a turbulent flight, and I find myself really wanting to take them when I'm not flying (but I don't!) so be careful with it.

Good luck! This can be very helpful if you are looking to alleviate the physical symptoms you have during turbulence. Not sure it will do anything for your fear of death :) but at least you won't be sweating.
 
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elektrobank

New member
Thanks for the info guys. I've always been adamant about not taking any drugs at all in my life. However, this flying thing is really killing me. Unlike other fears, which seem to go away the more I confront them, it seems to be the opposite with flying. The more I do it, the more it bothers me. And I'm getting to the point where if I have even just a few more bad flights, I don't think I'll be able to do it any more. It doesn't help that moderate turbulence is now the standard on every flight and it's now not uncommon to experience very violent turbulence every several flights. If I could just take a drug to get through it, it would really help me. I hate having to pass up trips and work events because of this. So maybe I'll try Lorazepam, that seems to be the most mild option. I have friends who take it only when they are very stressed and don't abuse it. After you take it, how long do you have to avoid alcohol for? If it's a longer flight, do you have to take a dose before you take off and then one in the air?
 

Pixie

New member
I know how you feel, I used to be able to sleep through mod. turbulence, but the more I fly, the more freaked out I get....it's kind of like an allergy, the more you're exposed to it, the more severe a reaction you can get. It definitely feels like there is more turbulence nowadays then there used to be....maybe that's just my perception, but like you said, it seems like the norm now to have moderate turbulence rear its ugly head on a flight whereas before it would be more of an exception.
I'm also like you in that i do NOT like to take any types of medication. You should speak to your PCP about the alcohol avoidance, it will depend on the dosage you take. I would just avoid alcohol entirely the day you take the meds to be on the safe side. If it's a longer flight, my doc. had told me to take 1 tab (.5 mg) every 3 hours. So take your prescribed dosage 30 minutes prior to take off and you should be good.
I just came back from Dallas today and it was a smooth beautiful flight. If they could all be like that, I'd never worry again :) Good luck!
 

easr

Lifetime Elite
I used to take Xanax but when I was pregnant, my OB switched me to Ativan as it's safer for pregnant women to take than Xanax... The Xanax was definitely more effective (and I was taking a higher dose 1.5-2mg I think) - meaning that I would really not be very bothered by turbulence when I took it. but it knocked me out for a good 24 hours, making me very tired/hazy for the first day after traveling. I usually take the Ativan when I get on the plane, sometimes a little earlier if I am really anxious. And I take a higher dose if there's bad weather!

Now that I have 2 little kids (3 and almost 1.5) I take Ativan - generally .75mg and rarely 1mg - and it really does the trick. takes the edge off, but keeps me alert enough to be able to care for my baby (the 3 yr old sits with Dad ;) - and the aftereffects are definitely minimal.

I agree that the "lack of memory" thing is great - it makes me less anxious when anticipating my return flight and has me less fixated on thinking about the flights overall.
 

45fearful

New member
I used to really enjoy flying and travel, so I was really upset that I found myself starting to avoid flying. I felt I had to turn that around which is why I started taking medication.

I take Ativan. I was prescribed .5 mg tablets which I then cut in half. I am an occasional flyer (about 4 times a year), and I only take it for flying, so even that little amount takes enough of the edge off to ease the anxiety of flying. It is not that I am not scared during moderate turbulence....I am. But I am not any more scared than anyone else (which makes me feel better). And it definitely makes the light chop seem like nothing. And it took away a lot of the anticipatory anxiety which I perceive as my biggest problem.

I often fly to CA on just the .25 mg of Ativan, and it is enough. I do not get sleepy, and I generally just feel like it relaxes me to the point of being a "normal" passenger.

I would recommend trying to learn relaxation techniques or even try self hypnosis tapes in conjunction with the medication. I learned to relax my hands, look out the window, breath deeply, etc. which all really help me and build my confidence for flying.

I do not experience a lack of memory (or any more than usual for my age!!).

I tend to be a bit of a worrier, so I also agree with the temptation to take it for more than just flying, but for me it is easy to resist because I really need that little pill to pack a punch when I am flying.

Just went to LA from BOS from Feb 12 to Feb 19 and had two really nice smooth flights with only a little chop. These flights do exist, and they actually are enjoyable.
 

pinworm

Lifetime Elite
Thanks for the info guys. I've always been adamant about not taking any drugs at all in my life. However, this flying thing is really killing me. Unlike other fears, which seem to go away the more I confront them, it seems to be the opposite with flying. The more I do it, the more it bothers me. And I'm getting to the point where if I have even just a few more bad flights, I don't think I'll be able to do it any more. It doesn't help that moderate turbulence is now the standard on every flight and it's now not uncommon to experience very violent turbulence every several flights. If I could just take a drug to get through it, it would really help me. I hate having to pass up trips and work events because of this. So maybe I'll try Lorazepam, that seems to be the most mild option. I have friends who take it only when they are very stressed and don't abuse it. After you take it, how long do you have to avoid alcohol for? If it's a longer flight, do you have to take a dose before you take off and then one in the air?

You should avoid alcohol for the duration of the benzo effects..which are about 3 to 4 hours after taking the pill. The benzo can take a full 45 minutes to come on, and there are mild after effects after the peak which occours somewhere around 1.5 to 2 hours from taking it. However, as Lorazepam is "short acting" you can drink alcohol safely 4 or more hours after taking it.

But the reverse is where you have to be careful. Alcohol has a slower elimination rate, sometimes up to 10 hours depending on how much you have been drinking...so its more important not to take the benzo after drinking even if you feel like you are sobering up. I would leave at least 6 hours between my last drink and my next benzo, perhaps 4 for even 1 beer. Point is, don't drink alcohol BEFORE taking any benzodiazepine. Drinking AFTER taking a benzo and feeling no more effects from the benzo is safer. Probably wise not to do both in the same day.

If I am on a longer flight, I tend not to take the benzo because the effects are short and taking one, then another as the effects wear off can make me goofy at my destination. For REALLY long flights...say 9 or more hours...I will take one to sleep or if I expect a turbulent period during the flight.

Otherwise I will stick with Scopalamine alone for motion sickness.
 
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