Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: Uses and Importance

Learn more about the substance use disorder ICD-10 classification and why this information matters here.

How Can Black Horse Health Help You Manage Your Substance Use Disorder?

At Black Horse Health, we understand the challenges that come with substance use disorder (SUD) diagnosis and treatment. We’re here to co-author the success story of your recovery, one page at a time.

Our team of skilled and compassionate specialists have over 100 years of combined experience, and we are committed to helping you or your loved one lead a fulfilling life by providing comprehensive substance use disorder treatment.

With wellness services including clinical monitoring, individualized treatment plans, and evidence-based therapies, we will create a path to recovery that best meets your unique set of symptoms.

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Learn more about our substance use disorder treatment, other treatment opportunities, and how our Black Horse Health team of specialists can help you heal in this comprehensive article. Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team for more information or to begin your path to wellness today.

substance use disorder ICD 10

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: What is the ICD-10?

The term ICD-10 stands for the International Classification of Diseases, 10th Revision. This is a globally recognized system used to classify and code diseases and health conditions. The World Health Organization (WHO) first developed the ICD-10 as a way to help standardize care.1

With the ICD-10, medical professionals around the world are able to categorize and record various health issues through a standardized method. It consists of a comprehensive list of codes and descriptors covering a wide range of diseases and conditions.

These codes are used for many purposes, such as medical billing and healthcare research. The ICD-10 plays a crucial role in ensuring consistency and accuracy in healthcare documentation. It has been adopted by healthcare providers worldwide.

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: How Does It Classify SUD?

The ICD-10 classifies substance use disorder (SUD) using specific codes and descriptions. It breaks down SUD into different categories.

These are based on the substance involved and the severity of the disorder:

  • Substance category: The ICD-10 first identifies the specific substance involved, such as alcohol, opioids, cocaine, or others. Each substance has its own unique code.
  • Severity: It then categorizes the severity of the disorder. There are often three levels: mild, moderate, and severe. These levels are also assigned specific codes.
  • Further details: The ICD-10 allows for further details to be added, such as whether it’s the first occurrence or a recurring issue.

For example, consider a patient with a moderate alcohol use disorder. The ICD-10 code would reflect this by combining the alcohol code with the code for moderate severity. This classification system helps healthcare professionals document and communicate SUDs.

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: Diagnosis Criteria

Substance use disorder gets categorized within the ICD-10 under the code “F10.” The specific diagnosis criteria for substance use disorder in the ICD-10 are as follows:

F10.1: Harmful Use

Substance use disorder ICD-10 code F10.1 gets used when a person’s use of a substance is causing harm. This is psychological or physical harm to themselves that does not meet the criteria for dependence.

F10.2: Dependence Syndrome

This substance use disorder ICD-10 code gets used when a person meets the criteria for dependence. The criteria for dependence include at least three of the following symptoms occurring over the same 12-month period:2
  1. Tolerance: A need for increased amounts of the substance to achieve the desired effect
  2. Withdrawal: The characteristic withdrawal syndrome for the substance or using the substance to relieve or avoid withdrawal symptoms
  3. Loss of control: An inability to control the use of the substance, often with unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control use.
  4. Neglect of other activities: A significant amount of time spent getting, using, or recovering from the effects of the substance, leading to fewer social, occupational, or recreational activities
  5. Continued use despite harm: Usage despite knowledge its harmful physical or psychological effects

F10.3: Withdrawal State

This substance use disorder ICD-10 code gets used when a person experiences withdrawal syndrome. This is associated with the end or reduction of substance use.

F10.4: Withdrawal State With Delirium

Code F10.4 gets used when withdrawal from a substance leads to delirium. Delirium is a severe disturbance in mental function.

It’s characterized by:

  • Confusion
  • Disorientation
  • Changes in perception

F10.5: Psychotic disorder

Code F10.5 gets used when the use of a substance results in a psychotic disorder. A psychotic disorder involves significant disturbances in perception, thinking, and behavior. This includes hallucinations or delusions.

F10.6: Amnesic Syndrome

This substance use disorder ICD-10 code gets used when the use of a substance leads to an amnesic syndrome. This is characterized by memory impairments and other cognitive deficits.

F10.7: Residual and Late-Onset Psychotic Disorder

This code gets used when a person continues to experience psychotic symptoms. This occurs after the acute effects of substance use subside. It also includes when psychotic symptoms develop long after substance use.

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: International Standardization

The ICD-10 works to ensure consistency and uniformity on an international level. The substance use disorder ICD-10 system provides this worldwide standardization through:

  • Universal coding
  • Common language
  • Consistent diagnostic criteria
  • Research and epidemiology
  • Healthcare reimbursement
  • International reporting
  • Treatment and intervention

The ICD-10 aims to provide international standardization. But, individual regions may have their own healthcare systems, policies, and guidelines. These local variations can influence the treatment and resources available.

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: ICD-10 vs. DSM-5

Substance use disorder is a complex condition that can be diagnosed and classified using different diagnostic systems. Both the ICD-10 and the DSM-5 are types of diagnostic systems that provide criteria for the diagnosis of SUD.3

Below is an exploration of how they differ.


The ICD-10 is a global classification system with broad categories and minimal diagnostic criteria. It’s less detailed than the DSM-5, and it puts less emphasis on cravings.


The DSM-5 is a U.S.-based standard. It involves more structured criteria and a more dimensional approach to diagnosis. It includes cravings as part of the diagnostic process and places an emphasis on condition severity.

While both the ICD-10 and the DSM-5 provide diagnostic criteria, they differ in their approach. The DSM-5 is often considered more comprehensive and detailed. ICD-10 is a global classification system that provides a more basic framework.

How has the ICD-10 Influenced Healthcare Related to SUD?

The ICD-10 has influenced healthcare systems related to SUD in several significant ways. These will be detailed below.

Standardized Diagnosis

The substance use disorder ICD-10 system provides standardized diagnostic criteria and codes. This ensures that healthcare professionals worldwide use a common language and framework. This standardization helps improve the accuracy and consistency of SUD diagnoses.

Epidemiological Data

The ICD-10’s classification and coding of SUD enables the collection of standardized data. Data can include information on the prevalence, incidence, and trends of SUD across different regions. This data is valuable for public health planning and policymaking.

Billing and Reimbursement

Healthcare systems often use substance use disorder ICD-10 codes for billing and reimbursement purposes. By having specific codes for SUD, healthcare providers can bill for the treatment of SUD-related services.

This is crucial for ensuring that patients have access to necessary care.

Healthcare Resource Allocation

Governments and healthcare organizations use data derived from ICD-10 coding to allocate resources for the prevention and treatment of SUD.

This includes:

  • Funding for addiction treatment programs
  • Public awareness campaigns
  • Harm reduction initiatives

Research and Clinical Trials

Substance use disorder ICD-10 codes help research efforts by allowing researchers to better categorize and analyze data. This is important for advancing our understanding of SUD and developing evidence-based treatments.

Monitoring Trends

Healthcare systems and public health agencies can monitor trends using substance use disorder ICD-10 codes.

This helps identify:

  • Emerging substances of abuse
  • Changes in patterns of use
  • The effectiveness of interventions over time

Global Collaboration

The ICD-10 is an internationally recognized classification system. It promotes collaboration among countries and organizations in addressing SUD as a global health issue. It enables the exchange of information and best practices among nations.

Policy Development

Governments use ICD-10 data to inform the development of policies related to SUD, including:

  • Regulations on the sale and distribution of substances
  • Harm reduction strategies
  • Addiction treatment guidelines

Training and Education

Healthcare professionals receive training and education on the use of ICD-10 codes. This includes substance use disorder ICD-10 codes.

This ensures that clinicians are familiar with the diagnostic criteria and coding practices for SUD. Proper practices can lead to more accurate diagnoses and better patient care.

Patient Advocacy

Patients and advocacy groups can use substance use disorder ICD-10 codes for patient advocacy. This includes helping to raise awareness and advocate for improved access to treatment and support services. The standardized coding system helps in making a strong case for the allocation of resources.

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: Limitations

Some of the limitations of the ICD-10 when it comes to substance use disorder include:

Simplicity of Criteria

The ICD-10 criteria for SUD are relatively simplistic. Because of this, it may not capture the full complexity of the disorder. The criteria focus on harmful use and dependence. But, it may not fully represent the range of symptoms and behaviors associated with addiction.

Lack of Dimensionality

The ICD-10 does not adopt a dimensional approach to assess the severity of SUD. It categorizes SUD into broad categories such as “harmful use” and “dependence.” This doesn’t consider the varying degrees of severity that individuals may experience.

Limited Emphasis on Craving

While craving is a large aspect of addiction, the ICD-10 places less emphasis on it compared to some other diagnostic systems. Cravings are not explicitly listed as a criterion for SUD diagnosis in the ICD-10.

Diagnostic Oversimplification

The ICD-10 may not capture the full range of substances and patterns of use. It lumps all substances into broad categories. This can oversimplify the complex nature of substance abuse and addiction.

Limited Information for Treatment Planning

The ICD-10 provides little guidance on tailoring treatment approaches based on a person’s specific needs and circumstances. It primarily focuses on diagnosis and does not offer comprehensive treatment recommendations.


The use of diagnostic codes for SUD can stigmatize those with the disorder. This may discourage some people from seeking help or disclosing their substance use issues due to fear of discrimination.

Cultural and Regional Variation

The ICD-10 is a global classification system. Because of this, cultural and regional differences in the presentation and perception of SUD can make it challenging to apply in a uniform manner.

Lack of Clinical Nuance

Healthcare professionals often find the ICD-10 to be less clinically nuanced compared to other diagnostic systems like the DSM-5. The simplicity of ICD-10 criteria may not capture the subtleties of SUD assessment.

Updates and Relevance

The ICD-10 was published in 1992. While it has received updates, it may not fully reflect current knowledge and research on SUD. As a result, it may not account for emerging substances of abuse or evolving patterns of substance use.

Diagnostic Inertia

Healthcare systems may be slow to adopt updates to the ICD-10. This can lead to a lack of alignment with the latest diagnostic and treatment practices.

How Does the ICD-10 Accommodate Co-Occurring Disorders?

The substance use disorder ICD-10 accommodates co-occurring disorders by allowing for the concurrent coding of multiple conditions.

This is essential because many people with SUD often have co-occurring mental health disorders or medical conditions – approximately 50 percent of individuals with severe mental health conditions also struggle with SUD.4

The ICD-10 accommodates co-occurring disorders through:

  • Multiple diagnoses
  • Specific codes
  • Hierarchical approach
  • Support for comprehensive care
  • Epidemiological data
  • Treatment planning
  • Reimbursement
substance use disorder ICD 10

Substance Use Disorder ICD-10: Benefits For Healthcare Providers

Healthcare providers can benefit from the substance use disorder ICD-10 system in several ways. These will be detailed below.

Standardized Coding

The ICD-10 provides standardized codes for SUD, which ensures consistent and uniform documentation of the disorder. This standardization helps healthcare providers communicate effectively with other healthcare professionals and organizations.

Accurate Diagnosis

The ICD-10 criteria for SUD provide a structured framework for diagnosing the disorder. This can help healthcare providers make more accurate diagnoses, leading to better-informed treatment decisions.

Billing and Reimbursement

ICD-10 codes are essential for billing and reimbursement purposes. Accurate coding for SUD allows healthcare providers to bill for the services they provide to patients with SUD, ensuring that they are appropriately compensated for their work.

Epidemiological Data

The use of ICD-10 codes for SUD contributes to the collection of epidemiological data on the prevalence and incidence of the disorder.

This data is valuable for:

  • Understanding the scope of the problem
  • Identifying trends
  • Planning public health interventions

Treatment Planning

Accurate coding in ICD-10 helps healthcare providers develop comprehensive treatment plans for people with SUD. It allows them to document co-occurring disorders and medical conditions, which are crucial considerations in treatment planning.

Research and Quality Improvement

ICD-10 codes support research efforts related to SUD. Healthcare providers can use coded data for:

  • Research studies
  • Quality improvement initiatives
  • Clinical audits

This leads to advancements in the field of addiction medicine.

Resource Allocation

Healthcare systems use data derived from ICD-10 coding to allocate resources for the prevention and treatment of SUD. This includes funding for addiction treatment programs, harm reduction strategies, and public awareness campaigns.

Multidisciplinary Collaboration

Accurate coding enables healthcare providers from different specialties to collaborate effectively in the care of patients with SUD. This is particularly important when addressing co-occurring conditions that may need a multidisciplinary approach.

Legal and Ethical Compliance

Accurate coding helps healthcare providers comply with legal and ethical standards related to healthcare documentation and billing. It reduces the risk of legal and regulatory issues.

Patient Care Coordination

ICD-10 coding facilitates the coordination of care for people with SUD across different healthcare settings. This ensures that critical information about the patient’s condition is communicated consistently.

Continuity of Care

When patients with SUD receive care from multiple providers or facilities, ICD-10 coding ensures that the diagnosis and treatment information are consistent, promoting continuity of care.

How Can Black Horse Health Help?

Black Horse Health is a facility located in Houston, Texas. Our compassionate and highly-qualified staff is prepared to guide you along every step of your recovery journey.

Black Horse Health’s primary focus is providing evidence-based treatments personalized to meet your unique needs. We believe in an approach that addresses the interconnected nature of substance use disorders. This includes how it connects to mental health.

Reach Out Today and Harness the Power of Healing

To learn more about the substance use disorder ICD-10 system, or for other questions, reach out to Black Horse Health today.

We’re here to help you heal.