What Is The ICD 10 Code For Alcohol Withdrawal?
Codes are part of the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), a system developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and used by physicians to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms, and procedures for claims processing. This system replaced the ICD-9 in 2015.
When a person consumes alcohol consistently and frequently over a long period of time, they may experience certain uncomfortable or even risky physical and mental effects when they eventually cease drinking.
This experience is known as alcohol withdrawal or alcohol withdrawal syndrome, a medical diagnosis that may require professional treatment.
Alcohol Dependence/Withdrawal ICD-10 Codes
The billable/specific ICD-10-CM code for “Alcohol dependence, unspecified” (alcohol withdrawal syndrome) in the United States is F10.239.
This is distinct from related codes including:
- F10.230 “Alcohol dependence with withdrawal, uncomplicated” (uncomplicated alcohol withdrawal)
- F10.231 “Alcohol dependence with withdrawal delirium” (delirium tremens)
- F10.232 “Alcohol dependence with perceptual disturbance
These codes are part of the International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision (ICD-10), a system developed by the World Health Organization (WHO) and used by physicians to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms and procedures for claims processing. This system replaced the ICD-9 in 2015.
While ICD-10 is an international diagnosis code system, there may be differences between the American ICD-10-CM version and another international edition of ICD-10-CM.
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Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD)
Alcohol use disorder (AUD), also known as alcoholism or alcohol addiction, occurs when someone becomes unable to control or manage their alcohol use despite it causing them serious problems in their social life, work, or mental or physical health.
As with other substance use disorders, AUD is considered to be both a brain disorder and a behavioral disorder, and can vary between mild, moderate, or severe levels depending on certain criteria. This includes:
- drinking more or longer than one intends
- wanting to cut down or stop drinking, but being unable to
- spending lots of time drinking or recovering from drinking
- wanting to drink so badly it’s hard to think of anything else
- experiencing problems in one’s day-to-day responsibilities related to drinking
- feeling that drinking has come between one and their friends or loved ones
- given up on previously-valued activities to drink
- drinking in situations in which alcohol consumption is dangerous or illegal
- drinking even when it is contributing to physical or mental disorders
- drinking more and more over time to feel the same effects
- feeling unwell and craving another drinking when the effects of alcohol have worn off
Alcohol Dependence & Withdrawal
AUD also encompasses the concept of alcohol dependence, in which a person’s body has become so accustomed to alcohol and the long-term chemical changes it causes that going without alcohol actually throws the body out of balance, producing withdrawal symptoms.
These symptoms can vary depending on a person’s health, resilience, and the level of alcohol dependence they have developed. They often include:
- alcohol cravings
- feelings of anxiety or depression
- jumpiness or shakiness
- mood swings
- nightmares and sleep disturbances
- problems with thinking and memory
- nausea and vomiting
- changes in heart rate and blood pressure
Alcohol withdrawal symptoms usually peak within 48 hours of a person’s last drink and will tend to resolve entirely within 3-7 days.
Delirium Tremens (DT)
DT is an especially severe form of alcohol withdrawal that likely only occurs among:
- those who have engaged in heavy, prolonged substance abuse daily over a period of several months
- those who have had a regular pattern of alcohol use that has continued for more than ten years
- those who have experienced a head injury, infection, or other illness and who have a history of heavy alcohol abuse
Along with the more usual symptoms of alcohol withdrawal, DT is associated with other hazardous symptoms including:
- sudden confusion (delirium)
- sensitivity to light, sound, or touch
- shaking or shivering
- irregular heart rate
- heavy sweating
- high fever
- generalized whole body seizures
- chest or stomach pain
DT typically emerges around three days into the withdrawal process and lasts for 2-3 days, often being most severe at night.
Those who experience DT, or those around them, should reach out to emergency health services for treatment as soon as possible. In rare cases, certain complications of DT including seizures, overheating, and dehydration, can cause death without medical intervention.
Treating Alcohol Withdrawal
In alcohol detox programs, healthcare professionals guide participants through the process of alcohol withdrawal in a safe and supportive environment, with comfort medications, hydration, counseling, and other supportive services on-hand for the duration.
While medical detox programs can help people work through many different forms of substance dependence, the severity and risk of alcohol withdrawal makes medical detox an extremely important first step in any intensive alcohol recovery program.
Once an individual completes medical detoxification, they should continue the recovery process in an inpatient or outpatient treatment program offering evidence-based services including:
- individual and group counseling
- behavioral therapy
- medication-assisted treatment options
- peer support
- aftercare support
For information on our inpatient substance abuse treatment program, please contact us today.
- Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) https://www.cms.gov/medicare/coding-billing/icd-10-codes/2023-icd-10-cm
- National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/understanding-alcohol-use-disorder
- National Library of Medicine: MedlinePlus https://medlineplus.gov/ency/article/000766.htm