Approximately 10 per cent of nurses are chemically dependent, and, for many, substance abuse begins while attending nursing school. Faculty must be able to assess the extent of the problem, understand the contributing factors, recognize signs and symptoms, and use educational interventions in identifying and preventing chemical dependency in nurses. Beginning in 1989, the authors sampled all entering students in four colleges on a health science campus using the Standardized Substance Abuse Attitude Survey and obtained resurvey data from two of the colleges' 1989 entering classes in fall 1991. Each college developed educational interventions. Some clear differences between nursing and pharmacy students emerged and indicated that a greater emphasis on drug and alcohol education can pay dividends. Establishing a data base over a period of more than 2 years provides a foundation to evaluate further interventions.