Learn About the ICD-10 Code for Inhalant Abuse

Doctors worldwide use the codes established in the International Classification of Diseases every day. Better known as the ICD-10, it comes from the World Health Organization (WHO). Each code goes with a specific diagnosis, which helps physicians quickly understand a client’s history when treating them. The ICD-10 code for inhalant abuse varies based on whether the client is an active user or in remission and if the person’s use is related to any other conditions or symptoms.

What are ICD-10 Codes?

Though ICD codes started in the 19th century, they went through many changes over the years as diseases became better understood. WHO adopted the codes as a way to keep track of diseases and collect data about them. Over the years, they also included mental health issues in ICD coding. Inhalant abuse is in Chapter 5, which includes mental and behavioral disorders.

Inhalant Abuse

Inhalant abuse is a condition that occurs when an individual uses inhalants recreationally instead of for their intended purpose. Inhalants can include paint, lighter fluids, cleaners, and any other products that produce fumes. According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), 20% of children experiment with inhalants by the eighth grade. This makes inhalants one of the first drugs that many people try. It has quite a few side effects and symptoms, which include overdose and death. The ICD-10 code has many categories for inhalant abuse, but they always begin with F18. Doctors also refer to the number as the primary diagnosis code. However, be aware that a client may have multiple codes in their file.

ICD-10 Codes

The basic ICD-10 code for inhalant abuse is F18.10, which refers to inhalant abuse, uncomplicated. This means the person has been diagnosed with inhalant use disorder but with no other complications or conditions. Clients may have this number in their chart or file until they receive a more detailed diagnosis. The code F.18.11 is for a client who used inhalants in the past but is in remission. Remission rates for substance abusers range from  35% to 54.4%. Someone who is recovering from problematic inhalant use may be in remission for months or longer.

Other ICD-10 Codes

Some of the other ICD-10 codes for inhalant abuse include:

  • F18.120
  • F18.14
  • F18.14.150
  • F18.17
  • F18.180

The F18.120 code means the client presented with signs of inhalant abuse and intoxication, uncomplicated. This means the client did not show signs of any other condition or appear to be using another substance. Inhalant intoxication is when a person has shown psychological and physical changes due to using the substance. A person can exhibit signs of intoxication immediately after inhaling, and the symptoms can last up to several hours. 

A step up from this code is the F18.14 code given to those who are inhalant abusers who also exhibit delirium. Delirium causes a person to feel confused because their substance use affects their mental capabilities. It’s one of the common effects of using inhalants, along with slurred speech, dizziness, muscle weakness, and nausea. The F18.129 code is for clients who abuse inhalants and present with unspecified delirium.

Inhalant abuse often goes along with one or more mental disorders. WHO uses F18.14 to describe a combination of inhalant abuse and a mood disorder caused by that abuse. It also established other codes to describe other disorders, including F18.150, F18.151, and F18.195. The 150 code is for inhalant abuse combined with a psychotic disorder that includes delusions. A delusion is when an individual believes things that are not true. Delusions can continue even after someone shows the person that their belief is wrong. 

The 151 code is for clients who have a psychotic disorder caused by their inhalant abuse along with hallucinations. Hallucinations can include auditory and visual hallucinations. With visual hallucinations, the client sees things that are not there. Auditory hallucinations cause them to hear things that do not exist. Another ICD-10 code is F18.159, which physicians reserve for clients with an unspecified psychotic disorder caused by inhalant abuse.

Inhalant abuse can cause dementia in users of all ages. Some of the signs of dementia include short-term memory loss, trouble handling simple tasks, and confused thinking. The ICD-10 code for inhalant abuse with dementia is F18.17.

Three other ICD-10 codes go along with inhalant abuse. The F18.180 code is for a client with an anxiety disorder caused by substance abuse. It can make the individual feel anxious when they do simple things like leave the house or spend time with friends. A client with another substance use disorder receives the F18.188 code. The final code is F18.19 for someone with an unspecified mental disorder caused by inhalant abuse.

Inhalant Dependence

The WHO reserves certain codes for those struggling with inhalant dependence. Inhalant abuse refers to someone who suffers from personal or professional problems because of their inhalant use. An example is a teenager who acts out in school and gets bad grades because they abuse inhalants. Dependence is another word for addiction. Inhalant addiction develops as a result of changes the substance makes to the brain. People addicted to a substance may have made several unsuccessful attempts to quit. 

Though you may not see all of the symptoms, you can look for some of the common signs of inhalant addiction:

  • Dilated pupils or bloodshot eyes
  • Unusual stains on the user’s skin or clothing
  • Dry skin on the person’s face or lips
  • Trouble speaking
  • A runny or bleeding nose

Inhalant Dependence Codes

You’ll find 13 different ICD-10 codes for inhalant dependence. The most basic is F18.20 for uncomplicated inhalant dependence. When someone suffers from inhalant dependence that is in remission, they receive the F18.121 code. The F18.220 code is for an individual with uncomplicated inhalant abuse intoxication. It usually presents in the same way as intoxication caused by other substances and can make the person appear drunk. Similar codes include F18.221 for intoxication delirium and F18.229 for unspecified intoxication.

As with the ICD-10 codes for inhalant abuse, there are also inhalant dependence codes for those who also have another condition or disorder. One of the common codes is F18.24, given to someone who has inhalant dependence and a mood disorder caused by their use of the substance. If the client has a psychotic disorder with hallucinations, they get the F18.251 code. The F18.250 code is for a client who has an inhalant dependence that led to a psychotic disorder with delusions. 

Each of the four other codes goes with a different disorder:

  • F18.27: inhalant dependence with dementia caused by inhalants
  • F18.280: Inhalant dependence with an anxiety disorder
  • F18.288: Inhalant dependence with another disorder
  • F18.29: Inhalant dependence with an unspecified mood or mental disorder

Inhalant Use

Not everyone who experiments with or uses inhalants will abuse them or develop a dependence on them. That is why WHO has multiple codes for inhalant use, such as when someone uses one or more inhalants recreationally. In addition, they may use inhalants while using other substances, such as drugs or alcohol. Some people can use inhalants multiple times without developing an addiction, but the same is not true for others. To diagnose someone with an inhalant use disorder, you may have to rely on what the person is willing to tell you, such as if they admit they have made several attempts to stop using the substance.

Why Do Physicians Use ICD-10 Codes?

Physicians use ICD-10 codes as a way to diagnose and treat their clients. The diagnostic process starts when the client makes an appointment. During their session, the doctor will perform a physical exam, review the person’s medical history, and perform any necessary tests. One of the problems of diagnosis inhalant abuse is that the substances used do not appear on standard drug panels. You need to rely on the information you get from the client plus any symptoms you see. 

Another issue is that a person can disagree with your assessment and make an appointment with someone new. It’s easy for a person with an inhalant addiction to see multiple doctors without any of them identifying their abuse. However, when a physician uses the proper ICD-10 code, that code will follow them every time they go to a new doctor and transfer their file. The code also helps emergency room doctors. If a client has an inhalant overdose, the doctor will choose the right code to describe the situation. After another overdose, or if the person goes to the hospital for any other reason, the next doctor can see their history.

How Serious Is Inhalant Use?

Inhalant abuse is a serious issue. Inhalants are some of the most affordable substances on the market that anyone can easily obtain. A user can walk into any grocery, hardware, big box, or electronic store and find inhalants. Users can simply put the item under their nose and inhale, but others place some of the substance in a paper bag and sniff it. The National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that more than two million people used inhalants in 2021. The same study also found that more than 330,000 people 12 and older abused inhalants within the last 12 months.

As a way to cut down on juvenile usage, many stores now require a photo ID to purchase computer dusters or canned air. Other shops moved the products to places that are hard to reach to keep them away from kids. However, people of all ages can easily buy or obtain similar products. Lighter fluid, paint thinner, glue, leather cleaner, and gasoline are some of the inhalants used and abused.

Inhalant Use Disorder Treatment

Physicians who build solid relationships with their clients can often get them to open up and talk about their experiences. This can help them decide on the best treatment plan to recommend. They may also be alerted to a client who needs help by the ICD-10 codes in their health record. 

Common recommendations for people with inhalant use disorder include cognitive behavior therapy (CBT), 12-step programs, and rehab programs. CBT is grounded in the idea that the way a person thinks and feels will affect how they behave. During sessions, clients identify and change negative thought patterns related to their substance use. Many people trying to abstain from inhalants find 12-step programs helpful because they receive support and encouragement from other people who have had the same issues they have. People who have tried therapy and support groups or have a severe addiction may need to consider entering a rehab program. 

Improve Client Documentation

Whether you’re a new doctor fresh out of medical school or a physician with years of experience, you know keeping up with client documentation is challenging. However, you also understand that sparse notes can lead to poor client care because IDC-10 codes don’t tell the whole story. AutoNotes uses AI to make clinical note generation effortless and efficient so that you can create thorough documentation quickly and accurately. Our platform allows you to spend less time on paperwork and more time with your clients.