What Are Drug Schedules?

What Are Drug Schedules?

According to the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), drugs and certain substances that make drugs are divided into five different categories (schedules). These schedules are based on a drug’s intended medical use, potential for dependency and the abuse rates for the drug. The abuse rate is the key factor in determining a drug’s schedule.

Schedule I drugs are considered the most dangerous and addictive. As the number of the schedule increases, the potential for abuse decreases, with schedule V drugs being the least likely to lead to drug abuse. The following is a list of drugs and their schedules provided by the DEA website:

  • Schedule I drugs are currently defined as having no accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse. These substances include heroin, LSD, MDMA (ecstasy), methaqualone and peyote. Marijuana is also a schedule I drug, although many states have now approved its use in the treatment of pain and nausea in cancer patients. These drugs are quite powerful, so seek help to break abuse habits with any of them.
  • Schedule II drugs have a high potential for abuse, but less than that of schedule I drugs. However, these drugs can also lead to severe psychological dependence, so users should not underestimate substances in this category. Some Schedule II drugs include cocaine, methamphetamine, methadone, hydromorphine, merperidine, oxycodone, fentanyl, Dexedrine, Adderall and Ritalin.
  • Schedule III drugs have a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological addiction. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include combination drugs like Vicodin and hydrocodone with less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dose. Other drugs contain less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dose (like Tylenol with codeine), ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.
  • Schedule IV drugs include Xanax, Soma, Darvon, Darvocet, Valium, Ativan, Talmin and Ambien. While these substances are weaker and less addictive than other substances, they are nevertheless addictive. Many people have had excruciating pain breaking dependencies to these drugs, so do not underestimate them.
  • Schedule V drugs include cough preparations with less than 200 milligrams of codeine per dose or per 100 milliliters. Examples include Robitussin AC, Lomotil, Motofen, Lyrica and Parepectolin.

Seek help to quit abusing any scheduled substance.

Finding Help for Drug Addiction

Knowing a drug’s schedule and understanding its potential for abuse can help you determine which drugs may be too dangerous for you to use. This is especially true if you have a personal or family history of drug abuse. If you or a loved one struggles with drug addiction, we can help. Call our toll-free, 24 hour helpline to speak to an admissions coordinator about recovery. They can answer your questions about addiction and help you find the treatment that will help you get and stay clean.