Security Clearance Denial

Using Spouse’s Prescription Medication is Considered Misuse

In the Illegal Drug Use section of the SF-86 it asks “In the last seven years, have you intentionally engaged in the misuse of prescription drugs, regardless of whether or not the drugs were prescribed for you or someone else?” Clearance holders and applicants should pay attention to the wording of this question and the consequences if you are tempted to forego a visit to the doctor to get a prescription and instead, decide to take a shortcut and use a friend’s, relatives, or co-workers prescription medication. Misuse of prescription drugs is actually quite common and the most common types of drugs involved are hydrocodone, oxycodone, ambien, valium, and various muscle relaxers. The Office of the Director of National Intelligence Security Executive Agent Directive (SEAD) 4 – National Security Adjudicative Guidelines outline why this is a concern and how it may be mitigated.

In a recent Department of Energy appeal case a clearance holder had her clearance revoked after it was disclosed during her subject interview that she had been taking her husband’s Xanax prescription medication on multiple occasions over the course of 8 years. Fortunately for her, she was able to convince the judge that she was unaware it was illegal to use her husband’s prescription, stating it was natural for them to share everything, including medications. Because she was forthcoming about the use, it was infrequent, and she now realizes the ramifications and vowed to cease any future similar behavior, she was able to mitigate the concerns and the administrative judge had her clearance reinstated.


  1. I suspect the outcome in these cases also depends on the particular drug involved. If my daughter were to get a prescription for 600 ibuprophen to get her through the track season and I take a few instead of taking three Advil, I don’t see any harm. Xanax, Oxy and others would be a different story.

    Personally, I don’t actually believe the claim that she didn’t know it was inappropriate to not share Xanax unless she also had her own prescription and only took them out of his bottle a few times. I also have a serious issue with any clearance holder self medicating with something like Xanax.

  2. I don’t know I saw some reports of people being questioned about using those big ibuprofens that they hand out like M&Ms int the Army… 900 mg? 800? Normally you cant get that size without a prescription but like I say the Army medics have barrels of them.

    Xanax definitely has major potential for abuse and I’d be leery about any use and even prescription use could get careful scrutiny… IMHO

  3. Intentionally - what a powerful word.

  4. You know . . . Many years ago, I was walking through Philly on my way to my office. Allergy season had just started and I stopped at a pharmacy to pick up some Sudafed. At my office, I opened the package and noticed that these were small, white, pills. I had only ever seen RED Sudafed but I popped two in my mouth and swallowed.

    The joke was on me . . . About 20 minutes later I started to get really light headed. I took a closer look at the box. The red pills that I was used to were 30mg each and I always took two. The new white pills were 60mg each. So, I had taken twice the recommended dosage. I went and told my boss what happened and he asked me to stay at my desk until I felt better.

    I didn’t INTENTIONALLY misuse the drugs. I realize that there was no proscription involve here but I think that the point remains the same.

  5. You should report that immediately to your FSO!

  6. I HAVE seen adjudicative boards request we pull back an SF86 based on a one time use of military motrin 800 MG. I came from the Air Force and like Army…this is handed out like M and M’s. Menstrual cramp? 800mg. Amputaiton? 800 mg. Sore shoulder? 800 Mg. Naturally I was taking 800 mg of the off the shelf stuff. Am I intentionally abusing it? No. Am I intentionally taking 800mg? Well…yeah. It can be a sticky grey area. And only military families would find themselves in that jam on a regular basis. Like Ed I see prescription oxycodone, valium, or Xanax in a separate class altogether, but not all on the adjudicative boards do.