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Drug Schedules Explained

Controlled Substance Act (CSA), Scheduling or CSA Scheduling by alphabetical order, contains a list of drugs and their schedules. Drugs, substances, and certain substances used in the manufacture of drugs are categorized into five (5) different types or plans based on the drug's acceptable medical usage and potential for misuse or addiction. 

The abuse rate influences drug schedules. For instance, Schedule I drugs have a high likelihood of being abused and possibly causing severe mental and physical dependence. As the drug schedule modifies (Schedule II, Schedule III, up to V.), so does the risk of abuse. Schedule V drugs have the lowest potential for abuse.

These records are intended to be general guidelines and are not exhaustive lists of all controlled drugs. They do not essentially define the salts, isomers, salts of isomers, esters, ethers, and variants that could also be categorized as controlled drugs. These lists only describe the primary or caregiver chemical.

Please remember a substance must not be classified as a controlled drug to be prosecuted as a Schedule I substance. A controlled substance alternative is a substance destined for human consumption, functionally or medicinally comparable to, or is depicted as being similar to, a Schedule I or Schedule II substance, and is not an authorized medication in the United States.

First Schedule

Drugs classified as First Schedule have no currently accepted medical usage and significant potential for abuse. Schedule I drugs include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD), cannabis, 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine (ecstasy), methaqualone, and peyote.

The Controlled Substances Act was enacted in 1970, during the "war on drugs," when the concept of zero-tolerance policies and marijuana as a gateway drug was widely accepted. Marijuana is classified as Schedule I. One of the many unforeseen effects of putting marijuana on Schedule I was the limitations on the ability to research to determine whether marijuana has "medicinal" qualities and what the risks are. Without good, or even acceptable, research, marijuana legalization debates are based on opinion, not fact.

Heroin is a widespread drug of abuse in the United States, with approximately 1 million people reporting using heroin in the previous year. Fortunately, there are many effective treatment options available to help individuals handle their addiction to heroin and other opioids. Many people who want to heal from moderate to severe heroin dependence and achieve long-term sobriety from this drug have found professional help.

Second Schedule

Schedule II drugs, stimulants, or chemicals have a high likelihood of abuse. They can result in severe mental or physical dependence. These drugs are also known to be very harmful. Combination products containing less than 15 mg of hydrocodone for every dosage unit (Vicodin), cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphone (Dilaudid), meperidine (Demerol), oxycodone (OxyContin), fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall, and Ritalin are instances of Schedule II drugs.

Vicodin is a highly recognized drug. It is prescribed for individuals who experience severe enough pain that other remedies are ineffective. Vicodin can only be legally obtained with a prescription.

Third Schedule

Drugs classified as Schedule III have a moderate to the minimal possibility for physical and psychological dependence. Schedule III drugs include products with much less than 90 mg of codeine for every dosage unit (Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids, and testosterone. Schedule III drugs' abuse potential is lower than Schedule I and II drugs, but higher than Schedule IV drugs.

Ketamine, Vicodin (pairing products containing less than 15 mg of hydrocodone per dosage unit), Tylenol with Codeine (products containing no more than 90 mg of codeine for every dosage unit), and buprenorphine are examples of Schedule III opiates (Suboxone). Anabolic steroids, such as Depo-Testosterone, are instances of Schedule III non-narcotics.

Fourth Schedule

Schedule IV medicines can and are abused, and they can be addictive, but to a lesser extent than Schedules 1, 2, and 3.

Tramadol, Xanax (alprazolam), carisoprodol (Soma), Klonopin (clonazepam), Valium (diazepam), and Ativan (lorazepam) are instances of Schedule IV substances (Ativan).

Remember that up to 40% of people who take benzodiazepines like Xanax on a daily basis will cultivate an addiction to the pills. Recovery takes place on two fronts: physical and psychological. Medical detox allows the body to adjust to the absence of Xanax. In contrast, rehab provides skill development and relapse prevention planning.

Fifth Schedule

Schedule V meds, toxins, or chemicals are classified as having a smaller potential for abuse than Schedule IV drugs, and consist of preparations containing small amounts of certain narcotics. Antidiarrheal, antitussive, and analgesic drugs are commonly used in Schedule V. Cough processes to produce less than 200 milligrams of codeine per 100 milliliters (Robitussin AC), Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica, and Parepectolin are instances of Schedule V drugs.

The limitations on narcotic studies and other uses vary depending on which schedule a narcotic is assigned. The drug's plan determines the legal punishments for drug-related offenses, with higher-ranking schedules carrying harsher penalties.