Flying High: Everything You Need to Know About Addiction in Fighter Pilots

Fighter pilots have been put in extremely dangerous and scary situations frequently…

It’s part of the job.

But, when the fighter pilot you know and love is struggling with addiction, it can be hard to quite grasp what it is they are going through. The statistics are shocking and they definitely aren’t alone – but, as someone from the outside, you might not be able to see even a glimpse into their world.

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Why are fighter pilots so susceptible?

By definition, a fighter pilot is a military aviator who is trained to fly in the cockpit of a fighter aircraft and engage in air-to-air combat. Sounds pretty scary, right? They are literally fighting with military weapons while in the air. This can lead to a lot of fear and anxiety, only increasing their susceptibility to addiction.

The physical conditions could also lead to increased drug abuse. Pilots are required to stay awake for long periods of time and while in grueling conditions. They also might experience physical pain as a result of their career choice, leading to further susceptibility to drug abuse.

In addition to the nature of the job and the task at hand, long and strenuous hours can also lead to an increased rate of drug abuse.

What is the statistics?

Research shows that in around 15-20 percent of all aviation incidents and accidents, pilots tested positive for the use of some type of substance. Among pilots, the most commonly used substance is marijuana and alcohol which could both easily impair the pilot’s skills in the time of an emergency.

To put the numbers into perspective, data shows that pilots have a rate of substance abuse comparable to top executives, legal professionals, and physicians. However, the pilots who suffer from substance abuse are on average older than the general population who suffers from abuse.


Research and statistics show that anyone is susceptible to addiction. Some are more susceptible than others, and a big part of this can be the nature and conditions of their career choice. However, as a pilot or other major public figure, it is important that we ensure these professionals remain in top shape with good health. Substance abuse in pilots can be both harmful to them and those around them.

It is important to know the signs of abuse, how to treat it, and what you can do to prevent it in yourself and those around you.


It Affects You Too: How to Deal with Addiction in Your Loved Ones

While most addicts come off as selfish…

Leaving people questioning:

How could you do this to your family?

People Standing on Dock during Sunrise

Don’t you care that you are hurting those around you?


The real problem is that they are so blindsided by their drug of choice that they do not even notice that their addiction is hurting those around them. In their mind, they think they are only hurting themselves. However, this mentality only makes things worse…

Because the truth is – the addict is hurting everyone they come in contact with. It could be as simple as upsetting their parents because they are watching them be so sickly to something more major like physically abusing their spouse or children. Whatever the case may be, addiction is not a victimless crime.

But, oftentimes, people are so focused on the recovery of the addiction they forget to focus on the friends and family hurt by the addiction. As the loved ones of an addict, not only are you effected but you still remain their support system and you need to be prepared for how to deal with their addiction.

A few tips to ensure your mental and physical health stay in check during the process include:

  1. Discover how to love an addicted person and still stay healthy. Seems almost contradictive, doesn’t it? Addiction can be toxic – even for those not suffering directly from it. Learn how to distance yourself when needed, learn how to avoid stressful situations that might put you in an uncomfortable or risky position.
  2. Stop blaming yourself. Even if you feel as though you might have caused the addiction, ultimately it is their decision. They made the choice to pick up that bottle or that dirty needle – you did not place it in their hand.Take a step back and examine your part in this. You are there to help them, but you did not do the damage so you should not feel guilty.
  3. Understand the difference between “self-care” and “selfish.” This is seen in addicts and in caretakers, you can easily forget about yourself and feel guilty if taking time for yourself – feeling like you are selfish. However, that is just a misconception that creeps in. Taking time for self-care is not selfish – you need time to rest, rejuvenate, and focus on you.Addiction can be contagious, especially if you are putting yourself in extremely harsh physical and mental situations. You are not helping them any more if you are not first helping yourself.



Addiction in Military Personnel: 10 Signs You Might Have an Addiction

Addiction is like a slithering snake…

It can readily and easily sneak up on you when you least expect it, bite you with its venomous teeth and before you know it, taking you by its wrath.

While people understand that drugs and alcohol are addictive substances, even the addicts themselves are often blindsided by their addiction…

Especially for fighter pilots and other military personnel, the acts and events seen at war can lead to mental health issues that are not properly dealt with. Furthermore, once the service member returns home, they might resume their previous recreational drug or drinking habits…

However, this time they might become addictive. As the sadness and anxiety set in from being in the field, they can find themselves drinking or using a little extra and it just gradually begins to escalate.

The issue with this is that as it suddenly escalates, each time the limit is raised that becomes their new normal. They adjust to drinking or using that much and then the amount will just continue to increase, but they will either not realize it or not acknowledge it.

If you have noticed that you are relying more on drugs and alcohol, or maybe you have recently picked up these activities due to your emotional state and did not previously partake in them, here are 10 signs you might have an addiction:

    1. You crave your drug of choice. You find yourself thinking about it when you don’t have it and deeply desiring access to it when it is not available.
    2. You have become physically dependent on it. You do not feel up to par if you don’t have it. You might find yourself irritable or even sick.
    3. You have built up a tolerance to it. You notice you are needing to use or consume more and more in order to feel the same way.
    4. You are experiencing withdrawal symptoms. This goes hand-in-hand with becoming physically dependent on it.
    5. You are drug-seeking. This could also be alcohol, too. You are constantly looking for ways to get the substance next.
    6. Your judgment is poor. You begin doing things like driving under the influence of your drug of choice.
    7. It is causing you financial trouble. Addicts will often put their drug of choice before anything else, sometimes even skip a house payment to feed their addiction.
    8. You have become isolated. You no longer want to go watch your kid’s extracurricular activities or be a part of family functions.
    9. You have developed unhealthy friendships. If you start noticing everyone around you has the same problem, this is probably the case.
    10. You neglect your responsibilities. When your addiction is causing you to miss work or other obligations, it is becoming a problem.