What are drug schedules?

November 2, 2020
What are drug schedules?

You may not realize that drugs have different classifications. 

Members of law enforcement categorize drugs based on the medical use of a substance. According to the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, these drug schedules consider how likely it is that you may abuse a substance. There are five drug schedules. 

Low-risk substances

Schedule V substances are drugs that may legally contain a low amount of opioid analgesics. However, the amount is low enough that medical experts consider these substances to be low-risk. They do not consider there to be much potential for abuse. This schedule includes drugs such as over-the-counter medications that help relieve pain or cough. The next category is Schedule IV substances. These substances also have a low-risk of dependence. 

Intermediate-risk substances

The third category includes Schedule III substances. These substances can legally contain a higher amount of opioid analgesics than Schedule V and IV drugs. Because of this, medical experts consider there to be a moderate potential that you might abuse or become dependent on these substances. 

High-risk substances

The most serious classifications of drugs are Schedule II and Schedule I substances. There is a higher risk that you may abuse Schedule II substances or become dependent on them. However, some of these substances still have a medical purpose. Schedule I substances, conversely, usually do not have a medical purpose and can also be highly addictive. 

Importance of drug scheduling

The drug classification system sometimes determines how law enforcement officials view these substances. Drug charges involving substances of a higher schedule may sometimes carry more serious repercussions. You may face different consequences for charges involving a Schedule I substance instead of a Schedule III substance. 


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