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The demands of pilots are unlike those of other professions in a variety of ways. These licensed professionals are responsible for keeping their passengers safe, which requires intense focus and fast response times in some situations. The responsibilities, coupled with long hours and extensive time away from family and friends, can make those in this career vulnerable to mental health and substance abuse issues. Despite the risks, those working in this high-pressure industry do not always believe they have the luxury of seeking professional treatment when there is so much at stake. However, seeking and obtaining treatment is the best way to restore one’s health, career, and personal life in a safe and effective manner.

Approximately 15 to 20 percent of all aviation accidents and incidents globally involve substance use, according to a 2018 report in The Recover. The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) discovered that one of the most common substances found in pilot’s systems was diphenhydramine, a common antihistamine found in over-the-counter medications with a sedating effect. In the same publication, the NTSB also reported that marijuana use had been on the rise among pilots since 2000. Alcohol abuse is another substance frequently used by pilots, with high-profile cases appearing in the news of pilots having been arrested after testing at blood alcohol levels far above the legal limits in aviation.

No matter what substance is at the core of your struggles, it may feel like seeking help is an overwhelming step that will put your career in jeopardy. At Center for Professional Recovery, we specialize in treating pilots, physicians, and other licensed professionals and we understand your concerns. We will focus on your treatment while working with the necessary boards and oversight committees to ensure you not only obtain long-term recovery but can return to your career safely in most cases upon completion of our program.

Reasons Behind the Problem

The unique pressures of the aviation industry can create challenges for pilots that might increase their risk for substance abuse. Issues facing these professionals might include:

  • Responsibility for keeping hundreds of passengers safe daily
  • Need for diligent focus while they are in the cockpit
  • Long hours, sometimes with quick turnarounds that compromise sleep
  • Substantial time alone, away from family and friends
  • Expectations to live up to a level of excellence in their professional service
  • Ongoing training necessary to keep up with advanced in the field

Hesitancy to seek treatment can also exacerbate a developing abuse problem. Pilots often go to great lengths to hide their substance use, resulting in advanced stages of addiction and significant consequences by the time treatment is finally sought. That is where a specialized treatment program designed for professionals can be beneficial. At Center for Professional Recovery, you will work with your peers who face similar challenges in their professions. Our team of experts will also work with you to meet requirements that will help restore your career status once the appropriate criteria have been met.

Types of Substances Abused

Substance use varies among pilots, although alcohol is a commonly used substance of abuse, as well as diphenhydramine. Marijuana use has also been increasing. Other substances of concern listed by the FAA might include:

  • Cocaine
  • Opioids
  • Benzodiazepines
  • Methamphetamines
  • Barbiturates
  • MDMA

Help Targeted to Pilots

Due to concern over the risk of addiction among pilots, a medical research project was launched in the 1970s to provide this group with the support necessary to identify and overcome substance abuse. The Human Interventional Motivation Study (HIMS) tested the effectiveness of a program designed for pilots to provide them with the help they need to save their lives and their careers. At the same time, HIMS is dedicated to ensuring a safer flying experience for the public.

Since 2010, HIMS has overseen the successful treatment of 4,500 pilots with the ability to return to their jobs under direct supervision. The Center for Professional Recovery meets the requirements of HIMS, allowing pilots the treatment they need in a confidential and professional environment while helping them preserve their career standing wherever possible. To learn more about our program, contact the Center for Professional Recovery today at 866.298.0056.

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