If I took something without a prescription what are my chances?

What if about 3 and 4 years ago I took something without a prescription multiple times to study for final exams, I have not taken since and never plan to again. I plan to tell the truth, what are my chances to get secret clearance? I have not used any other illegal drugs.

How old were you?

Another point . . . What do you mean, “if”? You either did or your didn’t and you will need to own up to it completely if you are going to clear. If you try to avoid it or minimize it, you’re going to have more problems.

The best tack is to say, “I did this, I realize now, as I’m older and wiser, that it was a mistake and a mistake that I never want to repeat.” They might want to know where you got it (you won’t have to name names and what the thought process was that got you there and then what turned you around. This is why you need to get this information straight in your head and even down on paper.


There are no automatic disqualifiers for anything. Twenty-four is old enough to know better and it will be a little harder to mitigate then if you had been even 18-24.

Is Adderall worse? Not really except that it is a prescription drug which brings in the fact that you misused someone else’s prescription.

My guess . . . . and that’s all that it is . . . . is that you will get denied but can likely prevail on appeal. With the right handling, you might get approved right off the bat but you are not at all likely to get an interim.

Who knows about your Adderall use? Did you ever get caught? Do a bunch of your friends or family know? How likely is it to be turned up in your investigation?

1 Like

Did you mean that there are no automatic disqualifers based on OP’s posts?

No . . . Actually, I believe that there are no automatic qualifiers despite what some agencies may believe. If someone high enough (or low enough, in some cases) wants you cleared, maybe because they need the skills, you will get cleared.

For us run of the mill programmers and analysts there are, very likely, some things that will instantly disqualify us, automatic or not.


There are automatic disqualifers based on Bond Amendment (formerly Smith Amendment). While there are waivers as you said; however, Bond Amendment is pretty strict as there is no waiver for current drug use. There is something about dishonorable discharge being non-waivable too.

Agencies do have automatic disqualifers. For long time, one agency literally disqualified anyone with ANY drug use until a few years ago (the change is mainly because the agency needs bodies).

I see this a lot of college age kids “studying”. Sounds more like partying, and needing to function the following day but I digress. My client takes a dim view of misuse of prescription medication and includes in that definition “Military Motrin,” which is 800 mg per tablet. It is the go to drug for the military. Menstrual cramps? Motrin. Decapitated? Motrin. Major surgery? Motrin. Cut yourself? …well you get the idea. I had two adjudicators call me and suggest it was best to pause 6 months before submitting a person. That required canceling the clearance request. Mind you they cannot discuss a person’s case. Period. But when the only negative on the SF86 is use of another person’s Motrin or specifically, Adderall? They have requested 2 to 3 years of non use, and as Ed captured, humbly own it, chalk it up to youthful stupidity. Not experimentation as some hold a strict interpretation as to what that is. Just own it. With 3 to 4 years now past I believe you can get a Secret clearance. I would write a statement to cover the situation when submitting the SF86.

Hi, I’m a recovering addict and was honest about my use of opiods. It didn’t seem to be a disqualifier, I just told them about the use, what happened and I received treatment. I stopped using 2 years ago and am under the care of a psychiatrist along with going to NA meetings.
Maybe if you showed something like that, even if your not an addict, that might help.

Bob, if you do not mind, what is your age, were you cleared previously when using, and are you cleared now? I commend your effort to seek help, and mitigate the situation both through NA and the doctors. Rock on with that path and I hope you remain clean and sober.

Hi there, ask away! I’m 47. I haven’t been cleared, yet. This is the first time I’ve ever applied for a security clearance and honestly the wait is killing me, I was supposed to get a decision today but, well, today has come and passed. I’ve talked to the investigator several times though and it’s never come up, I assumed that if it were a huge problem I would have been told an infatic no by now? Anyone that could give me a word or two of encouragement about the chance of my approval being high would be appreciated.
Thank you for all the nice things you’ve said. Drugs suck.

Hi All,
I live in a predominately military area and for my profession any job worth anything will require clearance. I am very worried because I have a valid diagnosis of Bipolar II, anxiety and major depression dating back to 2002 and ADHD from 2012. I do not have access to the original doctor to verify date (can’t remember his name and the clinic was no longer in that location). I have been on the same medication for 15 years (bipolar II) and 6 years (ADHD). I am so controlled that my family GP prescribes it to me and I do not see a mental health professional. Now, I lived overseas (husband’s job) and due to that countrie’s medical requirements for prescribing I was required to have a confirmation of diagnosis by a licensed mental health professional this year (May-done in the US), before I moved back to the US (Aug). No changes to treatment plan have been made for the stated time above and I have not been majorly symptomatic for that time. When I was evaluated my mother was in the final stages of sudden and unknown previously stage 4 cancer illness of which she passed away from in June, so the notes say that I am sad, etc. I have always been functional (never missed work or lost a job due to the condition) and never hospitalized in any capacity. If asked to fill out a SF86 and I would disclose my diagnosis’s along with a letter stating that I am of no risk/well controlled by my GP, what are the thoughts on the chances of being denied interim and/or final clearance? And is there a difference between Secret, TS, or TS/SCI that I would not be able to obtain under any circumstances? Any help would be appreciated.

Bob K: Was this Opioids, or Adderall? Opioids: I predict the need to wait a minimum of 36 months total from last use, continued need to attend addiction meetings, and perhaps a solid sit down with the doctor to go over the circumstances of the addiction. There are differing roads into and out of addiction likely making a difference. For instance, was this the pursuit of getting high? Or was it a result of a prescription for pain and you could not get off the meds? Did you use other people’s meds? Or did you prescription shop? All of this is relevant to trusting you in making good decisions. Age 47 will not get empathy if the drug use was to “get high.” I’m not saying you would not clear, just saying you likely require a minimum of 36 months drug free and continued treatment. If it was due to being prescribed the drugs…the nature and manner in which you used, amounts, how you procured it, were there arrests involved, courts, etc…are part of the endless variables impacting an easy answer. But I believe all roads to successful clearance require a minimum of 36 months no use. Just a gut call on that. If the majority of this situation is benign over prescription…you have an easier path. If it was willful use, misuse, and abuse, the path gets significantly more narrow.

Anonymous, best if you repost as a new topic. Short answer, no worries. Talk to doctor, if they clearly believe you are controlled and not a risk…then you are controlled and not a risk. My condolences on the loss to your family. Be clear on your recent loss. Being sad…is natural and normal. We grieve, and that is exactly how it should be. Society tells us we need never be sad if we take this little pill or that little pill…but I prefer a world where we actually do feel things.Take time to mourn mom’s passing. Feeling that pain is not abnormal in any way. But getting straight answers from your doctor is the best way to know how they will frame the situation to the BI person.

Amber: thanks for the information. To answer your question (and I put this on my application) I had been in an accident in May of 2015 and was given opioids and then took more and more. I had and still have significant pain but that was the reason I documented in detail why I got hooked on the medication. I never used anyone elses meds and did not prescription shop. All of my pills I got from two doctors. Like I said, most of this is documented though…there were no arrests involved, no courts, just me taking more and more medication because I was in pain and then because I liked to not be in pain (was getting high). Sorry to ask this or say this again, but, wouldnt they have bounced my application after realizing that it hadnt been 36 months (with all the information I gave you just now) and if they havent can that be considered good news?

EDIT: There is some irony behind this post… last night I got nostalgic and started to look back at my time since sober… long story short, i saw a picture and realized I screwed up on the drug use questions… its been 46 months not 24 (all according to the doctor/psychiatrist) like I had originally put. Basically, I didnt count 2 years on my SF-85 because of the way I counted (not correctly.) Needed to calm down when filling it out… Emailed my investigator when I realized BEFORE the decision is made.

Anon, for what its worth, I am friends with 8 people who have a mental illness. Everyone of them are being seen by a professional (psychiatrist and GP, both MD’s) and all have some sort of clearance. Their illnesses are across the board from chronic depression to bi-polar (I and II) to anxiety (ADHD). I would think the fact is that you will be fine… im no expert buy youve been taking meds for so long and your in control of that part of your life. Congrats too btw, ive heard (wink wink) they both suck. :slight_smile:

If the description you gave is understandable, and as you clarified above…I think the path is still open. I would expect them to check medical records and with your two doctors. We have known about the opioid threat for 20 years but only recently are they cracking down on legit doctors over-prescribing these highly addictive things. Now, they are going after the manufacturers and packagers who knew better than sending 5 million pills to a town with 500 residents. So that is being exposed. Your case sounds more like you developed a “dependency,” as opposed to addiction but I would go with the doctor’s words. In your situation…I would say you are on the good side of the situation. You took what was prescribed, how it was prescribed, and still became dependent even though you followed the doctor’s orders. Very different than one buying on the street and using other people’s meds. In this case if they are weaning you off them and you keep your own personal addictive nature in check…I think you stand a solid chance of clearing. This is where the “person-in-the-loop” is required during BI’s. In your case you followed the rules but there was a downside to this. Keep us posted. You may get a denial, or a follow up interview. If denied I would challenge after you talk to the Doc and get their opinion on what danger you present. Keep in mind you listened to the Doc and got into this situation. But, unless the doctor is using the words addiction, I would advise you frame this differently moving forward. There is a huge difference between one buying to abuse and one getting medically dependent.


I called the investigator this morning to make sure she was able to insert the new drug use dates into my file and she was doing it (she said) at that time. Next step she said was her manager would send an email or call the contractor service person in Census “When approved.” Not if approved but when approved. She is very very careful with her words and when asked if I was approved she just repeated that the manager would call when approved. I forgot to mention that since the beginning of August Ive been told someone keeps asking about me and I was pulled from the bottom of the stack… so, good news all around I think. Ill write back when hear an emphatic yes but Im going to sleep easier tonight. :slight_smile:

Keep us posted. I believe what the doctor says about you is most important. Like alcohol, I’ve had friends say they were an “alcoholic,” and they really meant to say they enjoy drinking. There is a difference. So do be careful how you use the words addiction.

What’s the difference between an alcoholic and a drunk? Alcoholics have to go to those meetings . . .

More seriously: My mother was a drunk. The difference? At age 70, one of her doctors told her that she shouldn’t drink any more. She said, “OK” and stopped.

1 Like

I’ve known very heavy drinkers who did not have a problem. And I’ve known people who simply “drank” and had a problem. There are a few differing measurements such as more than 5 drinks a week, alcoholic. Might be a strict interpretation there.