Overview of Categories of Controlled Substances in the United States

Posted on 19 Nov 2011 19:56

Controlled substances, are defined by The Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Actu of 1970, which is usually referred to simply as the Controlled Substances Act. This act established the current categories of controlled substances by dividing them into five areas, called "schedules." Drugs classified in this manner are those which are considered to have a greater potential for abuse than prescriptions drugs. Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and schedule I the lowest. The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) is responsible for the regulation of controlled drugs, including oversight of manufacturing, distribution, storage and dispensing.

Before a drug or other substance is scheduled as a controlled substance, its potential for abuse must be considered. More specifically: (1) Its actual or relative potential for abuse. (2) Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known. (3) The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the drug or other substance. (4) Its history or current pattern of abuse. (5) The scope, duration, and significance of abuse. (6) What, if any, risk there is to the public health. (7) Its psychic or physiological dependence liability. (8) Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under the act.

Although the Controlled Substances act was quite comprehensive, new "designer drugs" continued to appear on the market, which led in 1986 to an amendment to the act, The Controlled Substances Analogue Enforcement Act. This amendment allowed any drug that is chemically similar to a controlled substance, or which has a similar stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effect as a schedule I or II controlled substance, to be automatically illegal. Therefore, there would be no need to demonstrate the abuse of these new drugs and no need for them to be specifically mentioned in the original law. Many newer amphetamines and hallucinogens became illegal this way. A description of the five categories follows.

Schedule I

Schedule 1 substances have the greatest potential for abuse and have no accepted medical use. The category includes opiates, hallucinogenic substances, depressants, and stimulants including their isomers, esters, ethers, or salts, when applicable.

Criteria

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse
  • There is no currently accepted medical use in the United States
  • There is a lack of safety criteria for the drugs use under medical supervision

Examples of Schedule I Drugs and Substances

  • Heroin
  • Lysergic Acid Diethylamide (LSD) - known colloguially as "acid"
  • Marijuana (cannabis)
  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - main psychoactive substance in cannabis
  • Peyote (the cactus Lophophora williamsii Lemaire)
  • Mescaline (from peyote or other cactuses)
  • 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine - known colloquially as Ecstacy

Schedule II

Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse but have currently accepted medical uses in the United States. The category includes opiums, opiates and and any salt, compound, derivative, or preparation of opium or opiate excluding apomorphine, thebaine-derived butorphanol, dextrorphan, nalbuphine, nalmefene, naloxone, and naltrexone, and their respective salts. Also inclued is oOpium poppy and poppy straw, cocoa leaves, concentrate of poppy straw, as well as several stimulants, depressants, and precursors.

Criteria

  • The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse
  • There is currently an accepted medical use in the U.S. (which may include severe restrictions)
  • The drug or substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence

Examples of Schedule II Drugs or Substances

  • Codeine
  • Cocaine
  • Amphetamine - (Dexadrin, Adderal) - known colloquially as speed
  • Methampetamine - (Desoxyn) known colloquially as meth, crystal meth, ice, and other names
  • Morphine
  • Oxycodone
  • Oxycodone plus acetaminophen (Percocet)
  • Demerol
  • Methylphenidate (Ritalin)
  • Opium extracts, raw opium, tincture of opium
  • Amobarbital
  • Glutethimide
  • Pentobarbital (Nembutal)
  • Amobarbital (Amytal)

Schedule III

Schedule III substances have a lower potential for abuse than drugs or substances is schedule I or II and an accepted medical use in the U.S. This category includes some stimulants, depressants, narcotic drugs, anabolic steroids, and one hallucinogenic substance (dronabinol).

Criteria

  • The drug or other substance has a lower potential for abuse than schedule I or II drugs or substances
  • There is a currently accepted medical use in the U.s.
  • Abuse may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence

Examples of Schedule III Drugs or Substances

  • Anabolic steroids
  • Ketamine
  • Combination products containing less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dosage unit (Hydrocodone with Acetaminophen, Vicodin)
  • Combination products containing not more than 90 milligrams of codeine per dosage unit (Acetaminophen with Codeine)
  • Buprenorhine (Suboxone and Subutex) - used to treat opiod addiction
  • Benzphetamine (Didrex)
  • Thiamyl (Surital)
  • Thiopental (Pentothal)

Schedule IV

Schedule IV substances have a lower potential for abuse than drugs or substances in schedule III and a currently accepted medical use. This includes a few narcotic drugs, over 50 depressants, several stimulants, and two other substances (pentazocine and butorphanol).

Criteria

  • The drug or other substance has a lower potential for abuse than schedule III drugs or substances
  • There is a currently accepted medical use in the U.S.
  • Abuse may lead to some physical or psychological dependence but less than that of schedule III drugs or substances

Examples of Schedule IV Drugs and Substances

  • Propoxyphene (Darvon, Darvocet-N 1000)
  • Alprazolam (Xanax)
  • Clonazepam (Klonopin)
  • Clorazepate (Tranxene)
  • Diazepam (Valium)
  • Lorazepam (Ativan)
  • Midazolam (Versed)
  • Temazepam (Restoril)
  • Triazolam (Halcion)
  • Methohexital (Brevital)
  • Phenobarbital (Luminal)
  • Mephobarbital (Mebaral)

Schedule V

Schedule V substances have a low potential for abuse and a currently accepted medical use. This includes preparations containing limited quantities of certain narcotics, such as codeine, or narcotic drugs with non-narcotic active medicinal ingredients. These are generally used for antitussive, antidiarrheal, and analgesic purposes. Also included are a few depressants and a section for stimulants (no stimulants listed).

Criteria

  • The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to schedule IV drugs or substances
  • There is a currently accepted medical use
  • Abuse may lead to limited physical or psychological dependence relative to schedule IV drugs or substances

Examples of Schedule V Drugs and Substances

  • Cough Suppressants with codeine (Robitussin A-C, Phenergan with Codeine)
  • Antidiarrheals containing opium (Kapectolin PG
References
1. O'Connor, Daniel P., and A. Louise Fincher. Clinical Pathology for Athletic Trainers: Recognizing Systemic Disease. Thorofare, NJ: SLACK, 2008.
2. Gahlinger, Paul M. Illegal Drugs: a Complete Guide to Their History, Chemistry, Use and Abuse. New York: Plume, 2004.
3. "Scheduling of Drugs Under the Controlled Substances Act." U S Food and Drug Administration Home Page. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. <http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Testimony/ucm115087.htm>
4. "Code of Federal Regulations Title 21 FOOD AND DRUGS. CHAPTER II—DRUG ENFORCEMENT ADMINISTRATION
DEPARTMENT OF JUSTICE. PART 1308 SCHEDULES OF CONTROLLED SUBSTANCES." U S Food and Drug Administratio Home Page. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. <http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/cdrh/cfdocs/cfcfr/CFRSearch.cfm?CFRPart=1308>
5. "DEA Briefs & Background, Drugs and Drug Abuse, Drug Descriptions, Barbiturates." Welcome to the United States Department of Justice. Web. 19 Nov. 2011. <http://www.justice.gov/dea/concern/barbiturates.html>


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