How To Keep Your Pilot’s License If You Need Treatment for Alcoholism

airplane pilots

Are you a pilot, or do you know someone who is, and who is affected by alcoholism? If so, you may be worried about whether or not he or she can keep their position (and license to fly an aircraft) while struggling with their addiction. The truth is, it all depends on whether or not the alcoholic is willing to accept help in order to deal with the problem, and if they have suffered from legal trouble because of their addiction.


The Federal Aviation Administration, commonly referred to as the FAA, is stringent when it comes to its guidelines for pilots. Because the agency is tasked with licensing people who fly, and handing out disciplinary action when necessary, some pilots may feel afraid that if they make any misstep the FAA will pull their license. In reality, while the agency certainly will pull a license if they need to, it’s not their goal. The goal of the FAA is to protect the people flying in the aircrafts.

The FAA wants pilots to be responsible individuals, not just in the air, but in every aspect of life. If you’re able to demonstrate a high level of responsibility and admit you have a problem and ask for help, it shows the FAA you take their standards of care as seriously as they do. Many people refuse to actively seek help for fear that they will lose their ability to fly. In reality, that is often the very thing that causes them to lose their license in the long run.

Finding a Treatment Program

If you or your loved one flies an aircraft and is currently struggling with alcohol, the FAA has a treatment program available. The goal of their program is to help pilots stay sober and keep their license at the same time. In order to take advantage of it though, the person struggling must to be willing to ask for help.

The first step to recovery is being willing to admit you have a problem. The second step is asking for help. For aircraft operators, it may be daunting to reach out and ask. In the past, the FAA may not have offered the same treatment options, but over time they have evolved. These days, the FAA is more interested in helping licensed operators find a way to keep their license if there is a healthy path for them to do so.

For anyone who is struggling with alcohol addiction, the knowledge that they can still fly after receiving treatment is sometimes enough to help them decide to seek that treatment out.

Knowing When to Seek Help

If you are an individual who is licensed to fly an aircraft and you’re dealing with an alcohol addiction, it’s important to know when to seek help. Asking for help before you commit any infractions, or get into any legal trouble, will help you keep your license. Getting into legal trouble, regardless of whether you’re driving a car or flying an aircraft, can make it more difficult to get the help you need and keep your license after the fact.

In most situations, a single infraction that isn’t too serious won’t mean you cannot get your license back after seeking treatment. However, if you find yourself in severe legal trouble it may prove difficult to keep your license even after seeking treatment. The key is to ask for help as soon as you realize you have a problem. This will also go a long way toward showing the FAA that you are responsible enough to a) recognize when there is an issue, and b) immediately seek the help you need.

If you’re struggling, know that most people need help with something at some point in their lives. No one is perfect. As long as you handle the situation responsibly, there’s no reason you should expect the FAA to take your license away because you’re having a problem. You simply have to be willing to ask for help and seek recovery.

Simple Recovery is a world-renowned, California state-licensed substance abuse recovery center. We offer dual diagnosis treatment, so if you are experiencing both substance abuse and symptoms of a mental disorder, we can work with you to restore your happiness, health, and well-being. You do not have to continue living this way; there are many people here ready to help you.

Reach out to us today at 888-743-0490 to speak confidentially with an addiction counselor, or contact us online.