Past alcohol usage and getting a secret clearance

Hey Guys and Gals,

In the past, I was a pretty heavy drinker. I would drink a 12-pack of beer about 2-3 times a week. I was even diagnosed with alcohol abuse by a psychiatrist. I was also upfront and honest about this information on my SF-86 and during the personal interview with my investigator. However, I’ve been sober since Oct. 1 of 2018 and have been doing pretty well. I’ve been offered a non LE position with CBP.

Could my past alcohol usage affect my chances of getting my clearance?

You would need answer yes to the questions on counseling. You sign a medical release, so they are privy to what you discussed. If you have successfully completed a treatment program and are on the wagon, you absolutely can be cleared. They may want you to demonstrate sobriety for 12 months but considering falling off said wagon isn’t unusual, if your psychiatrist feels you addressed the issues in your life and you are making mature, law abiding, healthy decisions I think you will clear. If you suffered a few of the legal effects along the way such as DUI, drunk in public, etc…it is a steeper climb. Not impossible, but steeper.

I’ve never suffered any legal consequences from my drinking so that’s a plus. Plus, my psychiatrist told my that I appear to be doing very well.

List it and don’t be shy to talk about it. You stepped up and changed the behavior. Good on you.

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You mentioned on a different blog thread that others take longer to get cleared if they have issues on their record. Why is this? Does OPM need to do more investigating?

Length of time to clear is based on several items. First and foremost, who is sponsoring. If it is an operational position…high speed…low drag…they are much faster. If it is a support position, it is much slower. .The operator types on my compound will clear in 3 to 8 months. The support folks clear in 18 to 24 months. Next up is complexity of the case: how many states you lived in, how often you moved, why did you move? Will this require other investigators to reach out and look into references and addresses? Some of this is simultaneous, some is not. After that a person with sketchy finances, multiple arrests, not necessarily convictions, possible drug issues, alcohol events, counselings, foreign travel, foreign contacts…all of that must be scoped. Compare that to a person who is 18, lives with mom and dad, no travel, no foreign connections, no drugs, arrests, alcohol situations. The first takes a lot of leg work. The second does not. How long it sits in adjudication is another part where it takes time, and based on complexity it slows. I’ve seen some go into adjudication fast, and sit, and they had a previously bad, currently good financial record. Others entered adjudication 45 days after them, but cleared and came right out of adjudication in a week. The first person still sits 2 plus months later.

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@amberbunny… I’d assume I’m in the 18-24 month group…lol

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Hey Amberbunny,

When you give time periods of 3 to 8 months and 18-24 months, is this after the conclusion background investigator submits his report to OPM or the entire application process?

Thanks in advance

With my client, for support roles, it starts on the day they give me a receipt for submission. They QC the paperwork, review it for errors, put in the rack for initiation, and I suppose another entity then gets it, logs it in as received. It does, at times sit for 2 to 4 months before I see anything in the system showing it was initiated, meaning handed to a case manager, assignment to investigator, out for field work, etc. Hopefully as they move more under continuous evaluation the BI initiation time and field work time is lessened. But as I predicted early on, adjudication times will grow. To me it is a shell game. The only meaningful timeline is from when I submit, to notification the clearance was granted. Where is spends the most time, or if it was 4 months to initiate, and 30 days adjudication…moving to initiating in days, but now sitting 4 months in adjudication…the timeline for the applicant has not changed but they can claim they cleared the backlog out.