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  1. Phillips, Susan MSN, RN, BC


Ethical dilemmas frequently occur when nurses care for patients with a history of intravenous substance abuse who are hospitalized on medical-surgical units. This article discusses the recent findings on substance abuse, including its impact on the brain, effects on society and healthcare, available treatment options, and medical complications related to substance abuse. An ethical model is introduced to analyze ethical dilemmas with an accompanying case scenario. Resources available to nursing staff in many healthcare settings are identified as well as strategies to improve nursing care for this challenging population. The purpose of this article is to reduce nurses' feelings of frustration and stress in order to improve their morale. Finally, this particular contemporary ethical issue will be viewed as if perceived by Florence Nightingale.