Controlled Substances Classes

What is the Controlled Substances Act?

The Controlled Substances Act, or CSA, is a statute that became law in 1970 during the Nixon administration. It is part of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The CSA introduced a system of ranking and classification of drugs on a scale of five “schedules.” Drugs are placed on different schedules by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) based on their usefulness in medicine, their potential for abuse, and their likelihood of abuse and dependence for people who use them.

Before 1970, drug enforcement and control laws were quite varied and decentralized. The purpose of the Controlled Substances Act was to consolidate all of these laws into a single system that could be amended and built upon in the future.

Controlled Substances Classes
Schedule I controlled substances are the most dangerous drugs in this system. Drugs falling in this category have no practical use in medicine and are solely produced and sold illegally. Schedule I drugs have a very high potential for abuse. However, some drugs in the Schedule I category are actually less addictive and dangerous than Schedule II drugs, but have been classified as such because they have no medicinal purposes. Examples of Schedule I drugs are: DMT, GHB, heroin, LSD, marijuana, ecstasy, mescaline, peyote, and psilocybin.
Schedule II drugs are approved for medical use in the United States but are tightly controlled and regulated. Schedule II drugs have a high potential for misuse, abuse, and people who use them can become dependent upon them. Prescription medications under Schedule II are prescribed very carefully, with one-off prescriptions that must be rewritten once the medicine is depleted. Examples of Schedule II drugs are: Adderall, cocaine, codeine, fentanyl, hydrocodone, methadone, methamphetamine, morphine and oxycodone.
Schedule III controlled substances are drugs that are approved for medical use in the United States. While there is a potential for abusing Schedule III substances, it is less than the potential for Schedule I or II drugs. Schedule III drugs may cause a moderate physical dependence, as well as a strong psychological dependence. Examples of Schedule III drugs are: anabolic steroids and ketamine.
Schedule IV controlled substances are drugs that have a lower potential for abuse than those in Schedule III. They have an approved medical use in the United States and have a lower risk of causing a physical or psychological dependence for people who use them. However, they are still controlled substances as they have a potential for abuse and dependence. Examples of Schedule IV drugs are: benzodiazepines (Xanax, Librium, Klonopin, Valium, Ativan), Z-drugs (Ambien, Lunesta, Sonata) and soma.
Schedule V controlled substances have a very low potential for abuse, but a potential nonetheless. Like all other controlled substances above Schedule I, they are approved for medicinal use. They are all still prescription drugs but have very low risks of abuse and dependence and prescriptions are less restrictive. Examples of Schedule V drugs are Lyrica, Potiga, Trobalt, Lomotil and Motofen.
Controlled Substances Classes
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