Guide for Aviation Medical Examiners
Decision Considerations - Aerospace Medical Dispositions
Item 47. Psychiatric Conditions - Substance Dependence
Substance dependence refers to the use of substances of dependence, which include alcohol and other drugs (i.e., PCP, sedatives and hypnotics, anxiolytics, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and other psychoactive drugs or chemicals). Substance dependence is defined and specified as a disqualifying medical condition. It is disqualifying unless there is clinical evidence, satisfactory to the Federal Air Surgeon, of recovery, including sustained total abstinence from the substance for not less than the preceding 2 years.
Substance dependence is evidenced by one or more of the following: increased tolerance, manifestation of withdrawal symptoms, impaired control of use, or continued use despite damage to physical health or impairment of social, personal, or occupational functioning. Substance dependence is accompanied by various deleterious effects on physical health as well as personal or social functioning.
There are many other indicators of substance dependence in the history and physical examination. Treatment for substance dependence-related problems, arrests, including charges of driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and vocational or marital disruption related to drugs or alcohol consumption are important indicators. Alcohol on the breath at the time of a routine physical examination should arouse a high index of suspicion. Consumption of drugs or alcohol sufficient to cause liver damage is an indication of the presence of alcoholism.
Substance dependence and substance abuse are specified as disqualifying medical conditions.