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Nova Vida has many years’ experience working with those involved in the aviation industry and their licensing bodies and has an excellent record of helping all but two return to flying again and to their posts in air traffic control. The two who didn’t return to the skies opted for early retirement. Commercial Pilots working for the Legacy Airlines as well as the Budget, long haul and short haul, pilots from the UK, the Netherlands, Hong Kong and other countries worldwide, all have benefited from our understanding of the specific needs, stresses and regulations of being a commercial pilot. Cabin crew and those working in air traffic control, also extremely stressful environments, have equally been guided back to working again.

In an increasingly competitive market, often working in increasingly saturated skies, the pressure to meet tight deadlines and avoid costly delays is pushing pilots, cabin crew and air traffic controllers to their threshold of stress leading to burn-out and an increasing use of alcohol to self-medicate. Add to this anti-social flying schedules – early starts and late finishes, crossing numerous time zones and shorter lay-overs and you have a dangerous cocktail of circumstances for which pilots and others in the industry look for inappropriate coping mechanisms such as alcohol. Those who work in the aviation industry are human beings just like the rest of us and have the same personal stressors as we all struggle with: financial, relationship, children. When you add it all together there is a high risk that a growing inability to cope surfaces.

We understand the particular set of difficulties that commercial pilots face and have developed our programme to help them get a greater understanding of their own difficulties, to identify changes that they can make and to re-kindle the passion that they have for their job. We address the burn-out and we address the alcohol abuse. Our programme is geared to address either burnout or alcohol abuse or both together.

The Aviation industry has a much lower threshold for consuming alcohol than in many other professions. They are more vigorously tested than in many other professions and more subject to random testing. It is a necessity in a profession where hundreds of lives are at risk. Most Pilots keep vigorously to the bottle-to-throttle rule but it is not a fail-safe security against drinking sensibly. Most pilots drinking problems are revealed in health checks when blood results reveal heavy drinking over a sustained period of time. Others who need licensing to continue working in their chosen field are also often revealed to have an unhealthy drinking habit. A diagnosis of alcoholic may not always be appropriate but certainly a diagnosis of alcohol abuse is. In such cases total abstinence is often called for and without labelling you we can support you in reaching this objective and more importantly embracing the opportunity of no longer drinking. It’s more than a career at stake, or the lives of the passengers being flown, it is an opportunity to start a ‘new life’ with a much better set of tools to be able to cope with what life today throws at us.

We integrate you into the programme with our other patients but individualise your personal programme to take into account your personal circumstances and our understanding of them. We emphasise the similarities and recognise the differences. You are thoroughly assessed by our Psychiatrist, our Doctor and our Therapists and appropriate reports sent as agreed with you. These reports are acceptable to the licensing bodies and form an important first step towards regaining your medical license and ultimately your return to flying. We liaise when requested with your company throughout treatment and where no company support network exists we help to organise one with you. We maintain total confidentiality and anonymity and only report to those who you give your permission for us to contact.

You became a pilot, a cabin crew member or an air traffic controller to fulfil a dream. Now is the time to rekindle that dream.


Nova Vida Recovery Centre
Algarve, Portugal
  (+351) 919357186

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