The U.S. Secret Service has been on a mission to hire a bunch of new agents over the past several months, but the agency says it is having trouble finding qualified recruits—because so many of them have used drugs without a prescription.
Federal officials have grown perplexed in their hunt for talented young men and women interested in a career with the Secret Service. The problem is so many of the applicants are being disqualified from the interview process due to their pill popping days of the past—mostly because they used Adderall back in college—according to report from USA Today.
This phenomenon has now challenged the agency, which is currently engaged in an aggressive hiring blitz, to find more than 1,000 qualified agents and other personnel by the fall of 2017.
To put this into perspective, there were somewhere around 27,000 people who responded to the agency’s call for applications in 2015, and only 300 passed the criteria leading to an offer for employment.
For a position with the U.S. Secret Service, candidates are put through an extensive vetting process, which includes a series of personal interviews and a polygraph test. In times past, it has been the polygraph that has typically meant the early demise of an aspiring agent, but now, officials say, the high rate of prescription drug abuse is what has prevented most applicants from advancing to the next level.
Recruiters say this is likely the most prescription drug use they have ever seen out in the field.
“It is definitely a struggle with this generation,” said Susan Goggin, Chief Recruiting Officer at the United States Secret Service. “Adderall is a huge, huge issue.’’
In a recent interview with NPR’s Here and Now, Kevin Johnson, the journalist who penned the Secret Service piece for USA Today, said most candidates do not view their use of Adderall and other prescription drugs as something that could be held against them. It seems the stigma behind the use of pills is not as cut and dry as it has been throughout the years for other illicit substances, like marijuana, cocaine and heroin.
“A lot of the candidates don’t view their use of substances, like Adderall and other amphetamines, necessarily as being wrong,” he said. “They’ve been using it to help them in their studies, as a study aid, to be able to work longer into the night.”
This is not the first time a federal agency has expressed concern over the difficulty of hiring new recruits based on previous use of illegal drugs. In 2014, FBI Director James Comey admitted that is was becoming increasingly more difficult to hire hackers because a lot of them use marijuana. The Justice Department echoed this sentiment in a 2015 report.
Some of the latest federal data shows the recreational use of Adderall has increased among adults by around 67 percent since 2006. This is mostly due to the fact that the high-powered stimulant is now being prescribed at a rate of 30 times more than it was just two decades ago. Interestingly, a 2014 HIGH TIMES analysis into the state of the “American Tweaker” found there is enough legal speed being manufactured throughout the nation to keep every citizen awake for a solid month—giving those interested in a job with the Secret Service plenty of time to plot out a new career path.
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