In 1970 drugs and substance were organized into groups based on their risk of abuse or harm by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and they have been overseeing this categorization ever since their inception. This list is updated annually to maintain the order and control of substances within the USA. Under the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) all drugs and other substances are divided into five schedules based on their risk and potential to be abused or cause dependence.

What are schedules?

Schedules are the categories that controlled substances are placed into by the FDA according to their risk of abuse or harm. There are currently five schedules and begin from the most dangerous in schedule I to the least dangerous schedule V.

Schedule I

Substances under this schedule are currently unaccepted for medical use within the United States due to its high potential for drug abuse and dependency. These substances include heroin, lysergic acid diethylamide (LSD) and marijuana.

Schedule II

These substances also contain a very high likelihood of abuse which can lead to severe psychological and physical dependence. Schedule II drugs tend to contain narcotics such as dilaudid, methadone, demerol, oxycodone,oxycontin and percocet. Some other schedule II substances are stimulants like adderall, methamphetamine and ritalin.

Schedule III

The drugs within this schedule are less likely to be abused than those in the previous schedules and may lead to moderate or low physical dependence. The psychological dependence however remains very high for these drugs. Drugs containing less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage such as vicodin or products with less than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosages are included in this schedule. Some familiar names are Tylenol and Suboxone. Other non-narcotic drugs include benzphetamine, ketamine and depo-testosterone.

Schedule IV

The substances within this schedule have a low risk for abuse and dependence. Some include xanax, soma, valium, ambient and tramdol.

Schedule V

Substances in this schedule have a low potential for abuse relative to the substances listed in Schedule IV and contains limited quantities of certain narcotics. This includes cough or cold medicines such as robitussin, lomotil and lyrica.

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