Drug use while holding a clearance; future implications?

I am writing because I am terrified about the ramification of some poor decisions I made 3 years ago.

While prepping for an Army deployment to Iraq in JAN 2010, I was granted a TS clearance. During my deployment, I fell in love with a Dutch woman and while on leave to Holland, smoked pot one time. I was naïve to believe that I wasn’t committing a crime because where I did it, it was legal on a national level. (Additionally, I had intended to leave the Army upon my return from deployment in order to attend graduate school abroad.) Unfortunately, “life happens” and my involvement with the woman ended upon my return to the USA.

I ended up attending graduate school stateside and transferred to the Army National Guard. (As a result of that transfer, I kept my clearance).

During that first semester, roughly NOV 2011, I took Adderal three times to help concentrate/study. At the time, I had no idea that it in doing so, it constituted an illegal activity. After realizing my mistake, I never took the substance again.

The above mentioned drug activity is the ONLY drug activity I have participated in the past ten years. Since the fall of 2011, I have graduated from grad school, married a special agent with a triple letter agency, and have zero debt. I do not associate with drug users nor do I have any temptations to associate with and/or use drugs of any kind. I would be more than willing to take a polygraph and submit to any other pertinent screening measures to confirm the above.

I am still an actively serving member of the Army National Guard and am due for re-investigation of my security clearance this spring.
With that said, I have two questions that have kept me awake at night:

  1. If I admit to the above drug use, will I have my current clearance automatically revoked by the Army National Guard?
  2. Furthermore, if I am concurrently applying for a security clearance with a triple letter agency, should I admit to the above use? (Even if it means that I might end up losing my Army career)?

I am beside myself over what to do about this.

Please advise.

If you are being honest with yourself you already know the answer: you should disclose this information and answer all questions honestly. The drug use itself can be overcome with mitigating factors, but the real issue here is the fact that you as a clearance holder failed to report this information and violated the trust given to you. I would start looking at the Adjudicative Desk Reference to see what the issues are that you will face along with what the mitigation for each would be and start working on it.


Thank you so much for your candid and honest feedback.

Relative to mitigation, would you suggest completing a drug treatment program? (Even if my annotated drug use was limited and hasn’t been repeated in the past 3 years)?

I fully understand the “violation of trust”. I am just trying to figure out how I can continue serving without having a limited number of isolated events limiting my ability to do so for the foreseeable future.

Any additional guidance would be much appreciated.

Thank you.

The only reason to enter a drug treatment program is if you have a problem, which only you would know. Just follow the mitigation in the ADR.

I am slightly confused by the mitigation guidance in the ADR and my next steps…

Extract from the AG:
a) the behavior happened so long ago, was so infrequent, or happened under such circumstances that it is unlikely to recur or does not cast doubt on the individual’s current reliability, trustworthiness, or good judgment; (100% compliant).
(b) a demonstrated intent not to abuse any drugs in the future, such as: (1) disassociation from drug-using associates and contacts; (2) changing or avoiding the environment where drugs were used; (3) an appropriate period of abstinence; (4) a signed statement of intent with automatic revocation of clearance for any violation; (100% compliance).
© abuse of prescription drugs was after a severe or prolonged illness during which these drugs were prescribed, and abuse has since ended; (Not applicable to my situation/experiences).
(d) satisfactory completion of a prescribed drug treatment program, including but not limited to rehabilitation and aftercare requirements, without recurrence of abuse, and a favorable prognosis by a duly qualified medical professional. (Not applicable to my situation/experiences).

With that stated, in the ADR, only the following paragraph addresses drug use with current clearance holders:
Executive Order 12564 established the U.S. Government as a drug-free workplace. By accepting government employment, government employees have accepted voluntarily an obligation to be drug-free. It is appropriate to hold them to a higher standard than applicants who have not yet assumed this obligation. For current government or military personnel with security clearances, any illegal drug use or misuse of a legal drug is a violation of Executive Order 12564. It is, therefore, a breach of trust and a security concern. If this behavior is part of a pattern of problematic behavior, it should be evaluated under Personal Conduct.

Since my situations were isolated events that occurred 3+ years ago and considering that I am more than willing to comply with the mitigation steps addressed above, is that all that is needed to be done to move forward?

I was unable to find anything in the ADR regarding the steps and associated ramifications of “self-reporting” situations I have previously described.

If I report these incidents while filling out a DOJ background check, will my DOD clearance automatically be revoked? AKA does one background system “talk to another”?

My apologies for the excessive replies. This is simply unfamiliar territory.

In good conscience I cannot provide any further advice, I suggest that if this is that much of a concern for you that you seek legal counsel.

Characterizing the conduct as “a limited number of isolated events” speaks volumes in regards to how you view your actions. You have foreign preference (close relationship with a Dutch citizen), drug use and personal conduct (using drugs while possessing a clearance) issues to mitigate. You engaged in a serious breach of trust. Did you report your relationship with the foreign national as required?

And failure to report this information on future background investigations will be a felony (and you will definitely be denied a clearance). So the information will need to be reported. Those three letter agencies are sure to polygraph you so even if you lie on your forms they will find out. I’m not sure how you’d mitigate this.

Why would you freely admit to drug use if it was only “one time?” I don’t quite understand. How is the investigator going to know?

In the cleared world one never knows at what point in the future a job needing a polygraph rolls around, or perhaps you forgot about what you put on the last investigation and on the next update you actually tell the truth, but now have to explain why you lied previously.

I have a concern that may be raised. I can’t remember if I put I used marijuana once or twice on my application 86. I think I may have put twice but can’t remember . I just know it happen

The investigator asked me in my interview did I use marijuana twice and I stated yes. Because I wasnt sure if it was once or twice . It was during college years between 1999-2005. He than asked have I used any drugs in the last 7 years ? I stated to him no. Which is of course true.

Would I be able to mitigate that if it comes up to say I couldn’t remember so I said twice… it was over 15 years ago

You seem to be paranoid about the process which is unhealthy. You submitted your application and were interviewed where you provided clarification on information you provided. These are the only things you could influence during the investigation. So now sit back and continue with life until either you are granted eligibility or issued a statement of reasons intending to deny letter.

You absolutely right. I am paranoid and overthinking . When the investigator ask me did I smoke twice, I think I should have said once or twice. Because it was over 13 years ago in college. I don’t think I clarified

Than with the other incident I think I could have clarified more. I’m very worried and just want another chance to clarify but I may not get another chance.

Concur Marko. That said…I HAVE seen a military member get their clearance reinstated after a commanding officer went to the mat for him. I think it was the right thing to do for this commander and he was successful. It CAN happen.

However, Marko is correct. Lack of candor when cleared is an issue in and of itself. If you have any thoughts of obtaining a clearance with a three letter agency you likely need a Polygraph and will need speak to it. You will NOT get through a Poly for them if you do not disclose the use now.

The separate use of Adderal on three occasions though known as a college drug…is still wrongful use of prescription medication, and it takes away from the argument you made a one time bad decision. One might classify it as a propensity to violate rules. Being a full time student and a part time Guard member and not thinking drug use would be an issue isn’t an angle I recommend. Treatment for use isn’t like completing a driving course to mitigate a reckless driving ticket. I would see that as evidence you think you have a problem.

Honesty is always the best policy but I expect ramifications needing to be worked through. Had others known of your use and attempted to blackmail you, particularly a foreign national…I think you can see where the arguments against you could be made.