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Mil Med. 2012 Oct;177(10):1191-5.

Alcohol abuse or dependence in the military aviator: guidance for the non-flight surgeon.

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Cardiology Department, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, 8901 Wisconsin Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20889, USA.


Alcohol is tightly interwoven with the image and culture of aviation. When alcohol is combined with aviation, the result can be fatal to aircrew, passengers, and bystanders. Alcohol has been implicated in 8 to 12% of fatal general aviation accidents. With approximately 10% of the general population estimated to have alcohol abuse or dependence, alcohol issues are similarly common among aviators. Clear and concise guidelines exist to address alcohol disorders in both civilian and military aviation. However, few health care providers outside the aviation community are aware of these guidelines. When an aviator presents with an alcohol disorder, the well-intentioned provider may be reluctant to address the issue because of poor understanding of the occupational implications or a misplaced effort to preserve the aviator's career. However, proper therapy often permits the aviator to continue flying duties without adverse career impact. This review will discuss the implications, guidelines, and prognosis for the alcohol-dependent aviator and provide resources to enable the responsible health care provider to return the pilot to flight status as soon as practicable. Knowledge of these civilian and military guidelines will help close the treatment and communication gaps between aeromedical specialists and other medical professionals.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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