Item 18n - Substance abue or failed drug test

My Flight Surgeon

Sr. Aviation Medical Examiner
This is one of a series of posts about medical issues potentially affecting a pilot’s ability to obtain a medical certificate. In this series, we will look at common problems seen by the AME, review the requirements the FAA has to consider allowing one to fly and discuss what you need to do to expedite consideration by the FAA to allow you to fly. We plan to go through all of the medical history items in Section 18 on the front of Form 8500-8 over the next several months.

I would suggest that if you are unsure of how to answer these questions in Item 18, you discuss them with your AME before you complete the form. Some things may not be significant while others will require explanation.

Item 18.n. Substance dependence; or failed a drug test ever; or substance abuse or use of illegal substance in the last 2 years

Substance includes alcohol and other drugs (e.g., PCP, sedatives and hypnotics, anxiolytics, marijuana, cocaine, opioids, amphetamines, hallucinogens, and other psychoactive drugs or chemicals). A history of substance dependence or abuse is disqualifying. An applicant with a history of substances of dependence/abuse (drugs - alcohol) must submit the following if consideration for medical certification is desired:

A current status report from a physician certified in addictive disorders and familiar with aviation standards

A personnel statement attesting to the substance and amount, and date last used

If attended a rehabilitation clinic/center, provide dates and copies of treatment plan

The applicant may be required to submit additional information before medical disposition can be rendered.

In these cases, the AME must defer issuance of the medical certificate.

The general guideline is that one must be “clean” or “dry” for at least 2 years before the FAA considers issuing a medical certificate. The exception to this is when pilots are enrolled in the HIMS (Human Intervention and Motivation Study) Program that has been established with the cooperation of the FAA, ALPA and the airlines. In this very intensive program, a pilot may be granted a Special Issuance medical certificate after 6-8 months of sobriety. The program includes participation in an aftercare program and monitoring. For more information see .