Alcohol consumption

How much of an issue is alcohol use with your security clearance?

Everyone likes to talk about marijuana and security clearance these days. And it’s important to navigate this discussion, especially when looking at past use and recruiting the next generation of talent. However, many often point out that alcohol consumption is also a factor in the security clearance process. And they would be right.

Arbitration and Alcohol Guidelines

In fact, the Arbitration Guidelines cover alcohol consumption under Guideline G. But Guideline G is not about your glass of wine at dinner or a casual night out with friends. The security clearance process is primarily concerned with identifying patterns that imply unreliability or reliability. Often, public intoxication, citations for driving under the influence (DUI), or any drinking resulting in criminal charges can highlight patterns of alcohol abuse. There are, however, factors that can help mitigate the situation because the government compares each of the criteria in the Arbitration Guidelines to the concept of the whole person.

Alcohol appears in various ways in the customs clearance process. Some need to take this into account when applying – just like former marijuana users. Others need to seriously review their lives and make some changes after getting their security clearance.
Many young national security candidates wonder what to do with the college years. Do they have to record any underage drinking that they consumed during the four years of their undergraduate? And at this point, there’s no question on the SF-86 that asks about underage drinking. Unless there was a quote or fallout from your actions, the SF-86 does not ask for details about it. And you certainly don’t want to create red flags down the road with admissions on your file that don’t need to be there.

But others have taken steps to get through treatment and then find themselves with an opportunity to get a national security job. A Reddit user noted that he had been in treatment five times in the past decade, but was five years sober with an AA sponsor. While different agencies can make decisions for employment based on suitability criteria, without any arrests or other major factors, applicants who demonstrate ownership and positive steps can still obtain a security clearance. . This may have an impact on obtaining provisional clearance – but it just means there is more to check. Be sure to include any mitigating information you have in the SF-86 comments section.
Of course, if you already have your security clearance and find that alcohol is impacting your life, there are steps you can take to keep your security clearance in check. The key to maintaining your security clearance is being honest (if applicable) with your FSO and taking steps to mitigate any issues that may arise.

Why Your Alcohol Consumption Matters

Ownership and honesty proves to the government that you are reliable and trustworthy with classified information. Attempts to downplay alcohol dependence or actions clearly committed under the influence can endanger national security. So even if there are no charges or arrests for an alcohol-related event, negative behaviors can highlight that a licensee is no longer reliable and trustworthy. .

However, while negative trends can show poor results, positive trends can also show that the situation is sufficiently mitigated. When a licensee or candidate shows an ability to recognize a problem, seek treatment, and show a period of abstinence, the situation can be alleviated. This approach makes it possible to prove that the person can be trusted. The national security world is full of people who have made different choices, but the federal government is most concerned about the impact of those choices on the security of classified information.