How long to mitigate drugs while cleared?

No need to tell me I’m a stupid piece of ****. I know! I rightfully lost a career and identity over this, and I’m just wondering if redemption ever becomes possible.

I used poppers (not a controlled substance but it makes you high) once while cleared, several years ago. It was not reported on legal advice, though I realize now that was probably just winking ‘nobody will find out’ advice, but I didn’t realize that.

It seems like drugs while cleared is the worst thing you can do in terms of ever being cleared again, short of actually selling secrets or killing someone. I’m not going to lie. Outside of the DOD, which I know sometimes forgives young & stupid cadets, is there any chance of ever being in government? Or do I need to save myself the heartache?

Again, I know people sometimes enjoy kicking others while down on here but trust me, I know exactly how awful this was and it changed my whole life.

Strictly my personal opinion; I’d accept the fact that I won’t be cleared anytime in the near future (I’m thinking 15 to 20 years). Your issue is two fold; drug use while cleared (an ever question on the SF 86, so you would have to disclose it each and every time) and failure to report a reportable issue. Knowingly violating policies you agreed to, because it was in your best interest to do so.

Is it possible you’ll be cleared in the future? Sure. If you can find a company/agency willing to take a chance on you, and you are willing to go through the process.

You can always try for uncleared positions, or positions requiring a public trust clearance.

I wish you luck.

I agree that time is likely the only way to mitigate this issue, but I wouldn’t agree with the 15-20 year time frame. If you were in fact “young & stupid” at the time and can demonstrate that you have matured since then, usually through steady employment and responsible handling of your personal finances, that will also help to mitigate concerns.

In my estimation I’d say you would need to wait at least two years to apply to any job requiring a security clearance and of course not have any more issues in the meantime. You should realize that you will probably have to wait longer than most for a final clearance at that time. You may also face “suitability” concerns if applying for a government job.

I am not sure what poppers are and why they are not illegal. Is this a case of misuse of household chemicals or something? If so, that would sound particularly unappealing to most folks involved in future decision making process. Though of course, as squirrel said, there may be so many other factors at play (age, context of use, length of abstinence, etc).

It doesn’t sound like these are illegal.

Just a really bad idea. You used to be able to buy them at adult party stores. The “high” lasts less than a minute, and given I think several years ago they were barely on the FDA’s radar, that’s probably why you were told not to report. I doubt this is an issue.

I also 100% get that not reporting makes this worse but it probably wouldn’t have changed the outcome would it? Like I assume I would have been revoked and removed. Maybe that would have made coming back decades later slightly easier, but even though people get additionally dinged for not self reporting, they don’t seem to get much credit for reporting underlying disqualifying issues. Anyway, it doesn’t really matter for me at this point and I clearly need to figure out a different career.

It’s not a household substance like lighter fluid if that’s what you mean—I think it has some medical uses but is available for purchase in stores (under wink wink advertising for the legitimate uses, though I was a moron and thought if you could buy it in a sex shop it wasn’t some kind of illegal thing—though I didn’t purchase). But yeah, glue huffers aren’t exactly sympathetic figures. Really screwed up.

Yes, an extremely bad idea. Big problem is that apparently they’re specified on the SF-86 (amyl nitrate, the slang isn’t used). They’re illegal in most states under general inhalant laws but were not where I was. But seems like government wouldn’t give a crap about the distinction.

Two years from now, so a total of like 5-7+ years?

I was young but not 18. Other than this I had a pretty responsible life so I don’t know how much I can change / turn it around.

And yeah, the suitability is probably a big issue too. Even if I could demonstrate I wasn’t a security risk I did the #1 not-what-government-employees-do thing so I couldn’t even really be mad at them for that.

I don’t know if I would 100% agree with the knowingly part as I didn’t realize it was violative (unlike with, say, a joint or something where obviously it would have been clear) and then I got bad legal advice. But should I have known? Certainly.

15-20 years is effectively a never in my circumstances. I guess that’s good to know. Stings like a mother that my twentysomething screwup will define my whole life but it’s my fault.

I’ve seen some DOD contract cases where people seemed to do a lot worse and kept their clearances but those are probably the exception.

Was it on the form when you had the clearance? Or was it added later? Thing is, if you did it before it was reportable then… It wasn’t really reportable and wouldn’t be held against you for not having reported at the time. Also who gave you the advice? If it was a lawyer, that would be taken into consideration (it’s a mitigating factor in SEAD4 iirc). I still don’t think you’re as screwed as you’re concerned you are.

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@Amberbunny2 I don’t know what client you work with specifically but is there a time period you consider worth a submission with drug use while cleared? Obviously it’s much more than 12 months abstinence like with uncleared people…Probably would need to be even longer without an earlier self report?

Yes, tricky path to negotiate. If it is a poly cleared position, revealed to polygrapher, determined to be a one of, unlikely to repeat, possibly during period of high stress…it can be “excused.” Bad word, but close enough…it can be mitigated. I’m proof of that. Took RX Prozac, not prescribed to me during a brutal divorce. If it was getting high…to get high. Knowing it was prohibited…makes it a steeper hill.

That makes sense. I guess I was just wondering if there was a period after which someone with use while cleared might be submitted to the process in your experience (i.e., someone seeking a first clearance probably isn’t going to be submitted by a company until they have 12 months of abstinence from marijuana; I don’t know if there’s any period—obviously much longer—that would similarly get someone beyond auto-DQ). Granted, I’m sure most companies won’t submit someone with anything like that on their record but wasn’t sure if you might have seen any examples.

I have seen it. One other case it was many years later. But every 5 they were falsifying their sf86. Kindvof a catch-22 in that they demand you tell them, but normally tell you it is 100% disqualifying. The problem is most people use with others and can be subject to blackmail.

Sorry, so they were eventually cleared again after also lying on their 86? Or they were only able to clear because they were falsifying when asked if they had used while cleared?

They were re-cleared. The mj use was 12 years prior when they were very young, but already cleared. Each subsequent sf86 they denied ever using. Then as a MSgt…admitted to use many years prior. It delayed re-clearing…but they did clear. Likely looked upon as “not likely to repeat”. But that risk is always with the person. Your agency can deny you. Another agency might hire you…and clear you. They all interpret the rule sets independently. I make sure to refer folks to poly record when I must answer the “have you ever” question.

Wow, that’s surprising that the multiple falsifications weren’t a problem—my impression was that tends to be a hard thing to mitigate. Is a decade+ maybe a good guideline for when someone might have a snowball’s chance? I think I saw one FSO say they preferred 3+ years but not sure if that’s enough to even try.

My own polygrapher, 1 of 4 said after 5 years…history, 10…ancient history. Youthful stupidity, age at time, was cleared or not…all can be weighed. But the risk is ever present of a revocation. Honestly, I’ve been beating the drum of the feds needing change position on MJ use for 10 years. As more states approve recreational along with medicinal use…to maintain the “reefer madness” perspective…forces people to hide their previous use. Not a healthy environment. But for now they can be draconian…further feeding that position.

FWIW, I have seen people get cleared again after doing worse things. It depends on your skills. If they are in demand enough, an agency will probably work something out. Try learning a skill that cleared employers are desperate for and can’t find anyone to fill the jobs. Or maybe offer to work in a danger zone.