I hear about people who say they take a “xanax” pill when they fly so they fall to sleep. What is this and can anyone get it?
Xanax is a medication that belongs to the class known as benzodiazepines. The benzodiazepines are considered to be minor tranquilizers with varying hypnotic, sedative, anxiolytic, anticonvulsant, muscle relaxant and amnesic properties.
I think great caution should be taken when using a medication from this class of drugs because of it’s addictive potential. However, in an individual with minimal abuse potential short term use can be appropriate. In some situations, such as in your question, some individuals can become very anxious when they fly and require a minor tranquilizer to be able to tolerate the flight.
One aspect that I find very concerning is inappropriate use of this class of medications. Many persons will go to their physician due to situational anxiety (an anxiety related to a particular stressor in ones life) and want something to relieve their symptoms. What often happens is the person will find effective symptom relief and begin to psychologically become dependent on the medication. I have seen many cases in which “pill popping” becomes a coping strategy. Remember, I said that this class of medications is addictive. Thus, what would have been a good short term strategy has turned into something that the person is now dependent.
What I suggest is asking your physician about addictive potential for any medications that are prescribed to you (Benzodiazepines are only available by prescription from your physician). Make sure you ask the questions up front so that you don’t find yourself with a bigger problem down the road.