How Boned Am I?

I’m currently being investigates for a DOE Q clearance. I don’t think I’ll get it. Here’s why:
For the past 10 years, I had a serious drinking problem. I’d get hammered about once a week and not tell anyone about it. I didn’t get a DUI or anything, but it was subtly messing up my life. One of the symptoms of it was that, since I was drinking alone and disposing of the evidence the second I was done, I didn’t realize how much I was drinking and somehow thought I was basically getting drunk 3 times a year. Fast forward a bit. Things got bad, the drinking got way worse, I went to treatment, and am now a year and change sober.

None of that would disqualify me, I think (no legal troubles, sought treatment voluntarily, treatment worked). What is going to disqualify me, I believe, is that during the drinking period, I was investigated for and got a a DOE L. During the process, they asked me abput my drinking, and I gave them the 3 times a year version, which I believed at the time, but was in no way accurate. The investigation happened in 2014-2015, if timeframe somehow maters to this.

I have been perfectly honest about all of this on the forms for the new clearance, explaining that I lied before, but also that it was unintentional and caused by a drinking problem I have since fixed. However, I think they’re still going to go “well, you lied to us, and your excuse seems to be that you’re an alcoholic” and deny the clearance. Am I right?

Also, sorry for the long post.

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I think this is the important part:

If people who “underestimated” their alcohol consumption did not qualify for a clearance there would not be many cleared people.


Getting help voluntarily, and being successful…is a huge mitigation. Because the alcohol messes with judgement it can be easy to blackmail a person living well…drunk. Recognizing a problem and getting treatment in my estimation fixed your main concern. Keep up the great work.


Having been around many people with drug and alcohol problems all of my life, the issue isn’t blackmail. How can you blackmail someone for getting drunk and doing nothing else wrong? The issue is more about judgement and the fact that people who get drunk regularly end up doing stupid things like leaving a laptop at the airport or not properly securing paperwork. It’s not all about blackmail.


Valid point. But people will go out of their way to hide alcohol problems and issues. That bad behavior is something that can compromise them. But generally speaking you are also correct, loose lips sink ships, they are forgetful, etc.


People will almost always down play their guilty habits to an investigator.

The humor comes in when the down play is still pretty bad. I had a Subject where I developed serious alcohol issues (former spouses report the abuse, domestic violence, issues in the military, etc) during the investigation.

So we are talking about his current alcohol use. “How much do you drink?”, I asked. “A case on the weekend”, he replied. “You drink a case of beer over the weekend?”, I replied. After a few banters back and forth, I finally realized that he was telling me he drank a case of beer on Friday, a case on Saturday, and a case on Sunday. “But I don’t drink the rest of the week”, he states.

I then ask him, “How do you define intoxication?”. Subject replies, “when I feel light headed”. “How much do you have to drink to become intoxicated?”, was the next question. “About 18 cans of beer”, he states.

He honestly thought that he had downplayed his alcohol consumption to a point I found “acceptable”. Although this is an extreme case (and I swear, true), this is common during interviews.


Thanks to everyone who responded. I’m still pretty nervous, but the general tenor,of “you got sober, so it might be okay” is reassuring.

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At that point I’d stop worrying about my clearance and start worrying about my liver. If I still had one.


It’s always a toss up with investigators, but there are way worse infractions. Unfortunately, there’s usually not much sympathy with coming clean after any lie in the investigation process. I hope you get it adjudicated.

Finally have some news on this. First, whoever submitted my clearance request accidentally put me in for a L, not a Q. Second, after an INCREDIBLY testy psych eval, they granted me the L clearance. I guess my boss is probably going to immediately put me in for the Q, although who knows?

To any other alcoholics who lied about their addiction on past clearances: if you get sober and come clean, you have a shot.


Good and thanks for coming clean…and being clean!


@amberbunny, you’re amazing at this.