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I'l be travelling in a months time and my doctor has prescribed me Valium (diazepam), for anxiety as well as Ambien (zolpidem) for sleep. He said that combining them with alcohol isn't advisable but not bad so long as I don't take too much.

I've heard from other people that combining prescription meds and alcohol is illegal on planes but other sources say that it's only illegal if your become and intoxicated and then your behavior endangers the passengers and crew.

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3 Answers 3

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There are multiple concerns here.

One, the title asks something nonsensical, sorry. The very point of a lot of prescription drugs is to be under their influence constantly. You take as much as needed for that. Of course that's okay, that's why you need a doctor to prescribe them.

Second, medicating yourself for anxiety and better sleep is good but moderation is even better. Because in an emergency you need to be up and alert to be able to evacuate. Knocking yourself unconscious or nearly so is not conducive to success.

Finally, the problem with mixing alcohol with diazepam is not that it's illegal but it's a very serious health risk to yourself in a situation where medical care is utterly unavailable. One of the side effects aggression and hostility and that can be illegal.

So: go ahead, take a moderate amount, many people do this. Do not touch alcohol.

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It is so not much a legal issue, since you have a prescription for the prescription drugs that you are taking.

What you should be concerned about is (other than your own health) is that most airlines have rules in their contract of carriage that state something along the lines of:

The airline may refuse to transport or may remove passengers from its aircraft in any of the following situations:

  • When the passenger appears to be intoxicated or under the influence of drugs [which includes alcohol, but of course also over the counter, prescription and illegal drugs]
  • When the passenger interferes with the flight crew’s activities, or fails to obey the instruction of any member of the flight crew
  • When the passenger’s behaviour is potentially hazardous or creates a risk of harm to himself/herself, the crew, or other passengers or property

etc.

In other words, unless you have a physician's written permission to fly:

you might already be refused or removed from your flight when you appear unfit to fly

completely at the discretion of the crew and airline.

But also when for example you can't be roused (to put your seat in the upright position for landing) you might be refused on the next leg of your flight.

That is something you probably want to avoid.

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The drugs you have mentioned may be dangerous to you, if taken with alcohol. If you are planning to consume alcohol, get clearance from doctor in advance.

Taking this drugs, while boarded in an airplane alone is not an issue. And misbehavior caused by alcohol is a separate problem.

If I were you, I will skip alcohol. I just won't be taking that risk.

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