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PostPosted: Mon Jun 13, 2011 12:06 pm 
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Hi Folks, I'm new to this forum but I have been under a doctor's care for opiate addiction and have been prescribed, (and take), Suboxone 8mil since about 2008.

I'm 55 years old and I also take an anti-depressant called Wellbuterin, (also since 2008). I am seriously considering getting my certification to fly helicopters commercially.

What I mean is I must start with my private license certification, then to my commercial cert and then I would follow the typical path that one does when striving for a commercial helicopter license.

That usually means to acquire all that is needed for a Certified flight instructor position, (often offered by the school you trained in), and once I have acquired 1000 hours or so, move on to more lucrative positions.

OK, so that's the plan but before I go through all the work and expense I need to know if anyone can tell me what the FAA may think about my medical prescription treatment. So many people out there have no idea what Suboxe is and immediately recoil when they hear 'opiate addiction treatment' taht I dare not ask the schools themselves. They probably wouldn't know anyway.

I must point out that I have been an opiate addict since I was about 22 and have been in Methadone treatment for a few years and finally went to a hospital to detox and then 90day halfway house follow up.

I've done the AA thing for a few years and after that I relapsed in 2002 and in 2008, (maybe even 2007), found Suboxone. Things have been working great since then and I believe that the combination of the Wellbuterin and Suboxone also help my depression. I am pretty sure that I'll be taking both for the rest of my life.

I have no arrest records or any drug related offenses, (just a few traffic violations about no insurance).

So again, does anyone know if I would be barred from flying helicopters commercially by the FAA? I was told that Methadone by prescription did not disqualify your legal ability to acquire any Level of Tractor-trailer and/or Chauffeurs license here in Texas and even federally as an Over-the-road driver.

If I can't get a positive answer on my question here, can someone tell me where I can find this out?
Thank You. And sorry for the long post but I thought it would eliminate any guess work or '50 question' style postings.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 5:36 pm 
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Hi Rich56! I just happened to notice your headline about FAA restrictions and thought I'd throw out what I've learned at the treatment center I attended. While I was there we had 2 pilots going through treatment...I believe their DOC was alcohol. Neither was diagnosed as having alcoholism or chemical dependency, just happened to 'abuse' it one evening and ended up with DUI's. Even without a diagnosis, the penalties and follow up was to continue up to a year. This included therapy, both group and individual, random drug and alcohol screens, AA, and both were "grounded" from their large jets to smaller one's until deemed "safe". They both were required to go through in-patient treatment for 30 days. The psychiatrist at the center mentioned in 2008 that Dentists, Physicians, and Pilots were not allowed to take Suboxone.
I am actually dealing with that very issue and realize that until attrition wipes out all active members of individual boards and people like Dr. Junig can instill a different mind set regarding partial agonist like Suboxone, that as far as I can tell poses no cognitive deficiencies when taken long term. Regardless, as long as it's labeled a Narcotic, people's perception and still many physicians perception's, will remain leery at best. If you find out otherwise, please let me know


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 29, 2011 9:05 pm 
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Thank you Lindy,

I appreciate the response and agree with you completely. It's going to be a long time before we get away from the stigma. I doubt it will happen in my time.

The following was posted to me regarding this subject on the 25th by "tetrasect". I don't know why it's not showing up in the main body but it may have to do with the fact that it showed up in my message section. (I have no idea how they did that).

So I copied and pasted this reply to my post and that is followed by my reply to their post. And then we both reply once more each but I didn't post that. What I pasted here gets the basic message across.

But thanks again, and I'll post the remaining two posts if you would like to see them, (but I need to find out why they're not in this main body).

From: tetrasect
To: rich56
Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 3:12 pm
Subject: Your situation

I am a physician who did early research in the 90s with bup. I am also an 800 instrument rated pilot. To the best of my knowlege and I have not read the FAA regs in awhile, I doubt that you could fly on bup because it makes you tired often in the afternoon.

Please be advised that you MUST provide your FAA Physician of ALL medications.

My suggestion is to call the drug and alcohol division at: (405) 954-9260

I knew the guy who advised the FAA on how to deal with substance abuse/alcohol. The FAA is not unreasonable. Only recently they finally allowed some antidepressants. Prevsiously you were grounded if you took them.

I am now 59. I started flying when I was 41. There is know way I would fly, especially on insturments, even if it was approved, after taking any seditive hypnotic (read) benzos: xanax, valium...etc. I have more than 1000 hours on hard IMC. You really need your wits about you, even more so in a chopper.

Whatever you do. DO NOT LIE TO THE FAA. YOU WILL POSSIBLY LOSE YOUR LICENSE AND GET FINED.

I wish you the best and sympathize with your situation.

God Bless

From: rich56
To: tetrasect
Posted: Sat Jun 25, 2011 4:39 pm
Subject: Re: Your situation
Thank You tertrasect, I appreciate it and have decided to withdraw from my consideration to fly choppers commercially. The decision is 80% because of my present age, (55), and 20% because I am just tired of trying to reform the drug laws and misconceptions, (particularly the misconceptions).

Please don't misconstrue what I'm about to say but I personally note that almost everyone who has studied opiates, opiate abuse and opiate addiction treatment as a part of their medical profession, seem to overlook the actual addicts tolerance to such drugs over time.

I cannot speak for all, nor can I speak in reference to valium/xanax addicted individuals, but I had been addicted to opiates for well over 20 years and I had tried the methadone route several times as well, (legitimate clinical treatment facilities). The degree that most people would feel sleepy or tired or some form of less than fully alert is based on their tolerance to the dose of the opiate they've taken.

That of course, builds with time and eventually a dose of that opiate taken by the addict that may barely relieve them of the withdrawal effects, could easily kill a non-addicted adult in minutes.

So that said, I take a dosage of Bup that has no affect on my reasoning, reflexes, or ability to perform difficult and precise tasks. How do I know? Well, unfortunately we have no way of proving that I'm any more impaired on the drug than I am off it because that kind of research would require that I not only stop taking Bup, but my antidepressant as well. Then I would have to abstain for at least 4 or 5 months so that my mind and body could regroup.

Obviously, if I could do that, I would have done it many, many years ago. So it is extremely unlikely that anyone would want to do that research and then compare the 'before and after' results because they would have to hold the key to drug recovery, relapse, and all that it entails.

My point is that the person I am in front of you is the real me. I'm not slowed down or in any way at a disadvantage to anyone else. What I'm trying to say is that if I were to have the drugs I'm presently taking, (Bup and Wellbuterin under my doctors care), removed, the resulting person would not be me because my mind and body have 're-wired' themselves over that 25- 32 year period to live with that substance. Hence, implying that I am at some mental or physical disadvantage when taking either of these drugs would be implying that one knows my personal capabilities without them! It would be like me saying that you're better off without your walking cane when I have no idea how you would be without it. Do you see what I mean?

In 1990, I was admitted in a small hospital for depression, (I had stopped taking opiates for about 2 months at that point), and was given Clonopin and some other sedative during my month long stay.

2 1/2 weeks after being admitted my doctor felt the need to get a Mensa representative down from the Chicago area to have me take a certified IQ test.
The exam took about 5 days, (in the presence and under the instruction of the Mensa examiner), and the result was a 138 score. The examiner referred to the test as the "Short Form"!

When I asked if he had factored in the drugs that I had been taking while at the hospital, he said "No". He indicated that my mind had likely already accumulated a tolerance and so the drugs would have had little effect on my rational. How did he know that if he didn't know how or who I was without the drug?

All I'm saying is that the mind and body can have a way of readjusting when it is placed under SOME, (not all), substances at an early age and over a long period of time. Then, the person's "normal" scale must be reassessed if one was to claim that he/she is impaired while taking an otherwise very good drug to treat their addiction, (and keep them away from the dangers of an unregulated addiction and all that it entails).

No one is going to understand and accept that anytime soon so I'm no longer going for that profession. Thank You for your insight, (that I do not disagree with entirely), and your help.


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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 9:08 pm 
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Please refer to the requirement of getting a professional helicopter license.

1. The candidate has to be at least 18 years of age.

2. The candidate should be in possession of a FAA medical certificate.

3. The candidate should pass the FAA written and oral exam and practical flight test.

4. The candidate should complete 150 hours (minimum) of flight training.

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Find out more about <a>helicopter license</a>


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PostPosted: Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:54 am 
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I'm not sure what you're trying to say here. I already know what the "minimum requirements" are in order to get a Heli licence, that's not the issue.

build?1234 wrote:
Please refer to the requirement of getting a professional helicopter license.

1. The candidate has to be at least 18 years of age.

2. The candidate should be in possession of a FAA medical certificate.

3. The candidate should pass the FAA written and oral exam and practical flight test.

4. The candidate should complete 150 hours (minimum) of flight training.


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Fond Du Lac Psychiatry
Dr. Jeffrey Junig, M.D., Ph.D.

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