Substance Use Disorder in Adults

ICD-10 code: F19.10

Substance use disorders are grouped within the cluster of diagnoses called the substance-related and addictive disorders. These disorders are characterized by a maladaptive pattern of substance use manifested by recurrent and significant adverse consequences related to the use of substances. These problems are persistent and occur repeatedly within the same 12-month period.

The term substance can refer to a drug, a medication, or a toxin. In addition to alcohol, types of substances to which individuals may become addicted include:

  • Tobacco (e.g., cigarettes, cigars, snuff, snus, e-cigarettes)
  • Cannabis (i.e., marijuana)
  • Hallucinogens (e.g., LSD/“acid”, PCP, MDMA/“ecstasy”, psilocybin)
  • Inhalants (e.g., nitrous oxide, helium, other gases, aerosols, and volatile solvents)
  • Opioids (e.g., heroin, pain medications such as hydrocodone, oxycodone, etc.)
  • Sedatives (e.g., benzodiazepines, barbiturates, ketamine)
  • Stimulants (e.g., cocaine, crack, amphetamine, methamphetamine)
  • Caffeine (e.g., coffee, tea, colas)

The essential feature of a substance use disorder is a cluster of cognitive, behavioral, and physiological symptoms indicating that the individual continues using the substance despite significant substance-related problems. An important characteristic of this disorder is an underlying change in brain circuits that may persist beyond detoxification, particularly in individuals with severe disorders. The behavioral effects of these brain changes may be exhibited in the repeated relapses and intense drug craving when the individuals are exposed to drug-related stimuli.  

Substance Use Disorder

What is substance use disorder?

  • Increased usage – The substance is often taken in larger amounts or over a longer period than was intended.
  • Unsuccessful Discontinuation – There is a persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control substance use.

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Substance Use Disorder

Understanding Substance Use Disorder

Many people with one substance use disorder also other substance use disorders (including tobacco and alcohol), and commonly have other psychiatric conditions such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and/or post-traumatic stress disorder.  People with a history of trauma are more likely to have problems with substance use.

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How is substance use disorder treated?

Published treatment guidelines for SUD by the National Institute on Drug Abuse suggest there is evidence of the effectiveness of both behavioral and pharmacological treatments for various substances.


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