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The issue of impairment of practising professional nurses by alcohol and other drugs has become a critical concern since the 1980s The literature abounds with conjectures about the large numbers of nurses who are impaired, often without valid data to support the claims that the problem in nursing is greater than it is in the general population This study reflects an effort to compare the reported substance use of employed female nurses with that of two other groups of working females Survey data from 920 nurses, 405 clerical workers and 200 females employed in non-traditional trades jobs in two large eastern states in the US revealed that there was little evidence of ‘abuse’ of any of 15 substances, nurses did not report higher rates of substance use than the other two groups, and most reported substance use occurred in the younger age groups, reflecting the national trend The need for continuing research efforts and confirmation of valid data, and primary prevention efforts with young female workers, including at-risk student nurses, is made evident