According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), drug scheduling is used to determine the acceptability of medical use by the drug and the drug’s abuse or dependency potential. Abuse rate is a determining factor of which drugs make certain schedules, as well as which drugs have severe consequences. Criminal prosecution and pharmaceutical prescriptions are reliant upon the type of scheduling a drug receives. The DEA may also list certain drugs as a controlled substance if it needs to be regulating by the government to avoid further abuse, dependency, importation, possession of, use and distribution, and more by the population. There are 5 schedules for drugs as the DEA states:

    • Schedule I: These are drugs that have been identified as not acceptable for medical use and hold a substantial risk for abuse. Drugs such as heroin, peyote, ecstasy, and methaqualone fall under this category.
    • Schedule II: Substances that have high potential for abuse, potentially leading to severe physical or psychological damage and are considered dangerous fall into this section. Some examples of Schedule II drugs include hydrocodone, oxycodone, fentanyl, Adderall, and Ritalin.


  • Schedule III: These are defined as drugs with moderate to low potential for neither physical nor psychological dependence. The abuse potential is less than Schedule I and Schedule II categories, but more than Schedule IV and Schedule V. Examples of this include codeine, ketamine, anabolic steroids and testosterone.
  • Schedule IV: Drugs in this category have low potential for abuse and minimal risk for dependence. Examples include Xanax, Klonopin, Valium, and more.
  • Schedule V: These drugs also have low potential for abuse and consist mainly of limiting the quantity taken. Drugs in this category include Robitussin, Phenergan with codeine, and ezogabine.


Schedules for certain drugs are intended to protect the public from becoming dependent or experiencing severe consequences from high quantities of medication. When unregulated or not enough health information is presented to the public, such as with the opioid crisis, our society experiences abuse, dependency, and addiction. Educating yourself on the schedules of drugs can help you learn more about why certain drugs are controlled and the damage they can ensue if used incorrectly or illegally.





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