Alcohol consumption is one of the 13 adjudicative guidelines used to assess security clearance eligibility; meaning alcohol abuse, misuse and incidents can all cause security clearance denial or revocation. So, here’s what you need to know about alcohol consumption’s impact on your security clearance. 


Security clearance background investigators will look for signs of alcohol abuse or dependence. They include admitting to excessive alcohol consumption, drinking alone, drinking first thing in the morning, strong emotions like guilt or shame around alcohol, and any signs that alcohol is interfering with your daily life. 


There are no set rules for alcohol consumption, but doing so responsibly is a must. Drinking is only an issue when the government is concerned about its effect on an individual’s judgment and ability to protect classified information.  


Alcohol-related issues like driving under the influence, disorderly conduct, and binge drinking are major red flags. And while a diagnosis of alcohol-related disorders doesn’t necessarily deem you ineligible, failure to seek or stick to treatment are grounds for denial and revocation.  


Historically, alcohol is a security clearance factor that has flown under the radar. But continuous vetting (CV) is making it harder for applicants to hide alcohol-related problems. Criminal incidents involving alcohol, employment related issues, or the financial strain of alcohol dependency could present in a CV alert. 


In evaluating alcohol incidents and whether they could be clearance issues, a security clearance adjudicator will consider the likelihood of recurrence. Passage of time, a minor incident, or age are all factors that could be used to mitigate alcohol consumption.  

Seeking counseling or treatment for alcohol-related disorders could be the determining factor between a denial or revocation and being approved. Many Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs) include alcohol treatment or counseling as a benefit. Don’t bury your head in the sand or a bottle. Get proactive help. Click here for the full Alcohol Consumption report.

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Phoebe Wells is the Public Relations & Partnerships Marketing Manager at ClearanceJobs and loves every aspect of her role. Creating content and working with the CJ team to connect cleared candidates with employers is incredibly rewarding, as the work ClearanceJobs does ultimately supports the mission of the U.S. As the daughter of a veteran and former cleared worker, she knows the sacrifices security and defense professionals make. She is honored to assist them in leveling up their careers. Plus, she gets to work from home in the Adirondack Mountains with her partner and two huskies!