Substance Abuse and Airline Travel

Substance Abuse and Airline Travel are a Bad Mix

There are frequently reports in the news of people who have caused trouble on airplanes due to intoxication. It is often referred to as air rage. In some instances these individuals were so out of control that the pilots were forced to make an emergency landing. This type of occurrence is always worrying because it only takes one out of control passenger to cause havoc. There is no doubt that substance abuse and airline travel can be a very bad mix.

The Cause of Substance Abuse no Airplanes

There are a number of reasons why people may abuse alcohol or drugs while travelling by plane:

* There are many individuals who have a fear of flying. They attempt to boost their courage by drinking alcohol excessively or taking drugs.
* People who are travelling long haul may wish to escape the monotony of the journey. They take sedatives or drink excessively because they want to induce sleep.
* Those travelling on international flights will be expected to arrive in the airport up to three hours before their plane leaves. They may start to drink as a way to relieve the boredom.
* If people are going on vacation they will be in a celebratory mood. Their holiday begins in the airport where they start drinking, and they continue to consume alcohol on the plane.
* There are some airlines that offer free alcohol throughout the trip. In most airports there will be bars and cheap alcohol.
* Flight delays can cause a great deal of stress and tedium. People may react to this by drinking heavily.
* Alcoholics and drug addicts will habitually use these substances anyway. The stress of travelling can give them a good excuse to overindulge.

The Effects of Alcohol When Travelling by Airplane

There is a commonly held belief that blood alcohol content (BAC) rise higher from drinking alcohol on airplanes than consuming the same amount on the ground. This is a myth because altitude has no effect on BAC. The reason why people become intoxicated easier is due to there is a reduction in the amount of oxygen in their blood stream caused by the low pressure at high altitude. When this is combined with consumption of alcohol it makes people become intoxicated faster.

Another reason why people become inebriated more easily on planes is that they will often be dehydrated. There is less water in their blood stream so this makes alcohol more potent. This dehydration occurs because the conditions inside an airplane are much dryer than what people are used to. On some flights the humidity in the air will fall to as low as 1%. Humans function best in an environment that offers 50% humidity.

The Effects of Taking Sedatives on Airplanes

It is a temptation for passengers on long haul flights to take some type of sedation that will help them sleep through the flight. This will not only allow them to escape much of the monotony of long flights, but it should also mean that they wake up refreshed at their destination. While this may seem reasonable behavior it can actually be dangerous to take medication like this while flying. One of the most worrying of all risks is deep vein thrombosis (DVT).

Deep Vein Thrombosis (DVT)

A DVT is a type of thrombophlebitis. It involves a blood clot developing in one of the deep veins; usually in the thigh or lower leg. If this clot becomes mobile it can move to the lungs and cause a pulmonary embolism. This is where the clot blocks one of the arteries in the lung. This interferes with breathing and can lead to death if the individual does not receive prompt medical attention.

People who travel on airplanes have an increased risk of developing a DVT. This is often due to a combination of circumstances popularly known as economy class syndrome. One of the main reasons why these clots develop is that people do not have much room to move. This means that they are sitting in the same position for most of the flight. The danger of this is that it encourages blood to pool in the body and when this happens it can lead to the formation of clots. This is why passengers are encouraged to move about and do exercises during the flight to keep blood moving around their body. Those individuals who take sedation on airplanes have a much higher risk of developing a DVT. This is because such sleeping medications will make them immobile during the flight.

Dangers of Taking Illegal Drugs on Airplanes

Substance abusers who are addicted to illegal drugs take a risk by taking these substances on an airplane. If they are caught it could mean facing criminal prosecution. Those who are travelling on international flights may be risking severe penalties; possibly even the death penalty. Anyone who needs to take prescription medication with them when travelling by airplane is advised to bring along the prescription as evidence.

The Dangers of Giving Sedation to Children on Airplanes

Travelling with kids on airplanes can be highly stressful for everyone involved. Young children may react to the confinement of a plane by crying for almost the whole journey. Parents may be tempted to give their child some type of sedation, such as Benadryl, in the hope of making the trip easier to cope with. This is a common tactic for dealing with kids on long fligths and some parents will have no qualms about it. This is never recommended because there is too much risk involved. It is also ethically dubious to be drugging kids in order to make things easier for adults.

The main problem with giving sedatives to children on planes is that these substances can have unwanted side effects. For instance, it has been reported that Benadryl can actually make kids more hyper; so instead of improving the situation it is actually making things worse. Those parents who give stronger sedatives may be putting their child’s health at risk. There are other effective ways to keep children under control during long plane trips so using sedatives does not seem worth the risk.

Safe Consumption of Alcohol on Airplanes

If people choose to drink alcohol while flying then they are advised to do so safely. This includes:

* Staying within the safe limits for alcohol use. This would be two drinks for men and one drink for women. In this instance a drink would be viewed as a standard beer, a shot of spirits, or a glass of wine.
* People should drink plenty of water during the trip to ensure that they do not become dehydrated. Alcohol can actually increase dehydration because it acts as a diuretic; it makes them go to the toilet more frequently.
* It is important that people are aware of the increased risk of intoxication. They should be careful to drink slowly.
* It is recommended that people have other types of distraction to help them deal with long flights. This could include a good book or an mp3 player. If people wish to unwind they can use relaxation techniques rather than chemicals.

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