Please Help-Clearance Possible? Recovering Heroin Addict

My question is regarding possiblity of getting a Government Agency job and Security clearance. I know that it is long, but please take the time to read and give me feedback; it could really change my life!

Hello. I am currently finishing a master’s degree in Cybersecurity, and as the next step seeking employment for when I graduate. I have a 4.0 GPA and very motivated. I created a virtual lab with VMs to participate in CTF competitions. Learning to perfect my knowledge of Linux and Command Line. Trying my best to learn programming as time allows. My point is that I really am a great candidate for an entry level Cybersecurity position; I am looking to get an internship for this summer as I finish school in Fall 2020 and after graduation, a permanent position.

I would really like to work for the government. My question is basically whether it would be possible for me to gain employment with a Government Agency and to gain a Security Clearance; I explain the details below of all of my issues but the problem is I am a recovering addict in a Methadone Program clean from heroin for 1 and half years now, and have some nasty debt, about 35 K including student loan debts, which are currently deferred, but most of the Credit Card debt is defaulted/ has been forgiven but will not leave my record until 2022. Currently, I do not have the funds to pay off the debts, paying for tuition with government loans. Of course, after getting a job, I would start paying the debts, now free of a substance use disorder.

My explanation: I grew up in a Prescription pill household. Xanax. Dexedrine. Oxycodone out the wazoo. You name it. From a pretty early age, I was given drugs to cope with life. My mom didnt mean any harm, but quickly I learned: cant sleep, take xanax. Hurt your finger. Take some percacet. So from a pretty early age I was starting to develop dependency. Throughout my later teenage years and early twenties, my mother continued to supply me with percocet. I honestly didnt see this as wrong; I thought that since I had depression, this was as good an approach as any. My mom didnt know any better. Fast forward to age 25. Both mom and dad were very sick. I was running their business and using their pills. Well, withing two months of each other, they both died and then my grandma.

Left with a dependency on pain pills and nowhere to get them and of course no money, I went through some hard times, eventually finding work to support myself, but the drug habit continued and I continued my career now on Heroin which I found was much cheaper than pain pills. Also, which I neglected to mention, my parents and I were using my personal credit cards to pay for the restaurant equipment for the business, as we were completely broke. When they died, they left me with a mountain of debt, which I still have, and this destroyed my credit, which is only now beginning to rebuild.

After meeting the girl of my dreams and marrying her and a couple of rehabs later, I have been clean 1 year and a half, but with the support of Methadone Maintenance, and have been stable enough to really succeed in my master’s program. I will never go back to a life of drugs and risk losing my wife and my life. My question is this; do I have a shot of passing a background check and/or being considered by a Gov Agency like the Dept of Defense, Homeland Security, CIA, FBI, CISA etc? I have put all of my eggs in one basket with the Cybersecurity thing, and the government is the only route I know to an actually entry level Cybersecurity career. At the very least, to suceed in Cybersecurity, one needs a Government Clearance. Is this something I could hope to obtain? Also is it possible to work a Government Clearance job on Methadone Maintenance. Or are my dreams just shattered?

Thanks so much in advance for thinking about my issue. I appreciate it so so much; this makes a really big difference in my life.

Also, any advice would be appreciated.

Best regards,
Grateful Recovering

I know we never met but after all you have been through i am cheering you on! You have battled a lot to be where you are at and i am wishing you continued success along the way!
I wish I could answer your question but I don’t have an answer. I have met a lot of people who have had to overcome horrible life experiences and become super successful in what they do in their careers and personal lives.
No one leads a perfect life not even that investigator/adjudicator. Keep up your great work. Someone has to/will give you a chance-I have no doubt about that.

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Congrats on nearing graduation and your recovery! These issues can be overcome but I won’t snow you, its going to be an up hill battle. Before I forget, google "SECURITY EXECUTIVE AGENT DIRECTIVE4
NATIONAL SECURITY ADJUDICATIVE GUIDELINES " Download the document and use Guideline F and Guideline H to arm yourself with knowledge when you complete your security paperwork. This directive lists all of the security concerns that can disqualify you for a clearance, the disqualifying conditions and also the mitigating factors (hint: successful rehab can be a mitigating condition).

Lets start with the financials as really, based on what you think, versus reality, this might be a bigger challenge: Download your credit report (…doesn’t cost anything and you can get one copy of all three once a year) and find accounts in collection and in charge-off status. I’m assuming when you say “forgiven” you mean “Charge off”. Essentially this mean the lender never expects to get paid so they wrote the loan off. Sometimes lenders write it off and then sell to a collection agency (for pennies on the dollar) and the collection agency hopes to collect at least some and turn a profit. The bad news: The security world NEVER considers “forgiven” as a done deal. The security world looks at this as money you still owe.

No way around this, you need to make these right. I’ve seen several people work with credit repair or debt relief companies to clear this debt. The charge off accounts? These companies can negotiate lower amounts because the loan was charged off and they never expected to get paid anyway. For example $10,000 loan negotiated down to $1,200. This is just an example but you’ll be surprised at how low these can get negotiated to. You’ll want a WRITTEN agreement for the negotiated amounts and you’ll need to show proof of payment. If you get a letter stating we’ll let you pay $XX amount for XX months for a total of amount of $X,XXX that can be sufficient if you can show a history of payments by either cancelled checks or bank statements. Attach this to your security paperwork! Make it easy for your investigator. Items in collection work pretty much the same way but the loan is NOT forgiven so negotiating may be more difficult and you may need to make arrangements to pay the full amount.

The key in charge off AND collections is if you can’t pay them off, have agreements in place, take responsibility and be up front, and show a payment history matching (or more) the agreements. Did I say written agreements?

Drug use: Based on what you’ve described you’re in much better shape there than you are financially believe it or not! Read the security guidelines paragraph 26 b, c and d. Documentation from a medical provider(s) such as rehab facility, doctors, if you’re in an AA or other outpatient programs (letters from them describing your success) showing successful treatment or in the case of outpatient programs describing your continued success would all be helpful. Singed statement from you of intent to abstain would be helpful…include all with your security paperwork!!!

You have a lot of work ahead of you, but given what you’ve overcome thus far, I think you can do it! Good luck.

I have done investigations on former addicts and alcoholics.

You can be cleared but you have to hit the mitigation factors such as completed medical/counseling/ treatment, followed any follow up treatment, abstain from any use, no longer associate with those that participated in your past behavior, and have enough time pass to show you have changed your behavior.

SO the credit card debts I said were forgiven; what I mean is that I am not able to pay them off. They have not been sold to a collection agency; the debt has just been discharged.

Provide the discharge letter from each Creditor (credit card) to the investigation process.This is a mitigating factor.

Normally, only a bankruptcy action discharges a debt that is still owed to a creditor.

A misconception is that debts that are “written off” or “time barred” are no longer owed. Those are terms meaning the Creditor/collector have stopped actively pursuing the debt. The urban myth that you don’t owe a debt after if it is not on your credit report falls into this misconception.

Also, forgiven debts are not the basic security concern, it was the fact you did not pay your debts in the first place or did not show real attempts to pay your debts.

Others may see this differently but I think that the fact that you are still in a methadone program is going to be a significant issue.

However, I also believe that your cybersecurity work options extend far past government work. All large companies, banks, utilities, insurance companies are all targets of cyber attacks and all have to work to prevent and mitigate them. You may have more and better options.

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Great point. Say someone locks in a room for 7 days, offering you methadone if you give them just a tiny bit of classified information. See the issue?