For a DoD Secret clearance, what would mitigate experimental drug use w/ a 5C Public Trust?

Hi everyone, I worked in a 5C public trust position last year. I’ve recently been exploring positions that require a DoD Secret clearance, and wanted to reach out to the community to gauge my chances. While holding the public trust, I did something quite regrettable: experimentally misused prescription Ritalin (9 months have passed since this use). I’m sure I have absolutely tanked my chances of obtaining a clearance, but I’m wondering what I can do to atone for my mistake and mitigate this indiscretion in the future.

Thanks for any advice you can provide!

The best, and perhaps only, mitigation is time. Don’t do it again.


Wait it out. Put distance between you and period of use. Critical questions are: how much, how long of a period, for what purpose, and how old you are. Did you end association with other users, or place of use? I often share my personal experience in that area, as one surprised by a divorce. I could not function and made a stupid decision to use my ex’s prozac. After 10 days or so it allowed me to numb the emotions, work and realize I needed this. The meds must have made it easier to not care about my ego and see a doctor for my own RX. I didn’t abuse the meds to get high, I took them as described on the label. Not that I’m smart enough to make that call mind you. It was wrong then, wrong now. But severe emotional pain makes us do dumb things. After a refill or 2…I realized “feeling” is required in life and tapered off. Had a rollercoaster ride of emotions as I adjusted, mourned and grieved the major loss in my life and healed. Didn’t think about this again till Polygraph…suddenly…realized enormity of bad decision, laid it all out. Gracefully, it was deemed a significant emotional event, not likely to repeat itself. It hasn’t. But I share to let folks know there is a path forward.

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Thank you for the replies! Sounds like time is what I need- I hope things will go well if I stay out of trouble for another year or two.

I hope this case is minor- the use was when I was 23, it was one time, and a (former) friend’s prescription (standard dose). I don’t have a good reason for using it (had a few drinks, plus peer pressure that caught me by surprise) but I’ve definitely distanced myself from that crowd and even moved away.

I’m glad you were able to move forward from that, Amberbunny! That couldn’t have been easy.

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