As they push to hire 1,000 new agents, the Secret Service is running into an unexpected problem.
The US Secret Service, under pressure due to unprecedented demand and recent controversies, has been carrying out its most ambitious recruiting campaign in over a decade, looking to find over 1,000 qualified agents and other personnel within the next year. The agency has had no problem finding interested people as around 27,000 have responded to the agency’s various calls for applications since 2015. However, the major problem the agency is facing is the high number of recruits who have abused prescription drugs, mostly Adderall and other amphetamines they took while in college. As a result, only 300 of those 27,000 have received an offer for employment from the agency, complicating the Secret Service’s recruitment goals.
All candidates looking for positions with the Secret Service are put through an extensive vetting process, including a series of personal interviews and a polygraph test. Previously, it was normally the polygraph test that doomed the largest percentage of would-be agents, but now it appears that amphetamine/Adderall use has taken its place. Any use of any drug in an illegal way is grounds for immediate expulsion from the hiring process. Susan Goggin, the Chief Recruiting Officer of the US Secret Service said: “It is definitely a struggle with this generation. Adderall is a huge, huge issue.” Indeed, Adderall’s use among college students is becoming increasingly common. The latest federal data shows that Adderall’s recreational use has increased by nearly 67% in the last ten years and is now being prescribed at a rate 30 times higher than it was two decades ago.
Another part of the problem appears to be that many candidates are unaware that their past use of Adderall and other prescription drugs is something that could have negative consequences for them, largely becase the stigma behind its use is not as clear cut as it is for other illicit substances, like marijuana and cocaine. Many college students also do not view their use of Adderall as dangerous or even wrong as they are taking it for the “right reasons” – to be more productive in class and manage a high workload. However, in the eyes of the federal government, Adderall and other amphetamines are classified as Schedule II drugs and the reasons for its use are irrelevant.
Interestingly, this is not the first time that a federal agency has run into this type of problem. In 2014, FBI Director James Comey admitted that hiring hackers was becoming more difficult as many hackers had previously used marijuana recreationally, a concern also echoed by the Justice Department. This same issue also evenutally led US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to announce this September that the Pentagon would be open to hiring individuals that had experimented with marijuana in the past. Will the Secret Service soon be forced to change its policy on Adderall as its use continues to skyrocket? Or is it more of a sign that the War on Drugs is laughably out-dated?