Security Clearance Denial

Alcohol Use Disorder and Clearances

Alcohol consumption is one of the adjudicative concerns when evaluating an applicant’s eligibility for a security clearance. Most people do consume some type of alcohol, but how often, how much, and the effect it has on the person is what adjudicators are looking for, especially when it leads to violence or criminal conduct. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism there are approximately 15 million people in the United States who fall within the criteria of being diagnosed with Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD). This disorder is characterized by an uncontrolled dependence on alcohol and develops when a person consumes large quantities of alcohol, causing changes brain synapses. Healthcare professionals use the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) 5 to evaluate individuals and diagnose the severity of AUD.

A recent Department of Energy appeals case involved an individual who had his clearance revoked due to alcohol consumption and psychological concerns. Police were called to his home three times within a year, once for a domestic dispute and twice for suicidal threats he made known to his wife. All involved alcohol. The local security office sent the individual an interrogatory and subsequently suspended his clearance. He interviewed and diagnosed by two DOE psychologists as having moderate AUD and a poor prognosis for recovery. At his appeal he tried to play down the fact he had misrepresented his alcohol consumption to the local security officer, admitted to not seeking any of the recommended treatment, and continues to consume alcohol. The judge in this case was of the opinion the individual had not mitigated either of the concerns and denied reinstatement for clearance eligibility.

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