Schedule of Drugs: Classification & Examples

Instructor: Janell Blanco
The Schedule of Drugs was created so different law enforcement agencies understand the risks of the drugs. This lesson will discuss the Schedule of Drugs, classifications of drugs, and provide examples for each classification.

Schedule of Drugs

Do you have a friend or family member that takes medication for anxiety or hyperactivity or even a pill every night that helps them sleep? Did you realize that some of these drugs are dangerous because an individual can abuse the drug and gain a dependence to the drug?

Each type of drug has a potential to be abused or an individual has the potential to become dependent upon these drugs. There are five classifications of drugs and they range from Schedule I to Schedule V, with each schedule of drug having their own definition and explanation. These five classifications are known as the Schedule of Drugs, which was developed by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as part of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA).


CSA is Title II of the Comprehensive Drug Abuse Prevention and Control Act of 1970. The law was put into place to fight the war on drugs and the DEA oversees the law.

How do you think changes are made to the Schedule of Drugs? Well, like many governmental things, any changes that need to be made to the Schedule of Drugs must go through the proper channels. They have to go through the proceedings started by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). The DEA is responsible for researching the new drugs that are being manufactured, classifying the drugs, and working with the FDA to get the Schedule of Drugs updated.

The FDA and the DEA are responsible for changes to the Schedule of Drugs.

The Schedule of Drugs is a very large and comprehensive list but we will take a look at the classifications and examples of drugs that make-up the Schedule of Drugs.

Classifications and Examples

We'll now take a look at each of the five schedules. The classification of the drugs and examples of the types of drugs in that classification will also be discussed.

Schedule I

Schedule I narcotics are drugs that are the most dangerous drugs because they're the most addictive and are thought to have the worst physical and psychological dependence rates.

Drugs that are classified as Schedule I drugs include the following:

  • Marijuana
  • Heroin
  • Ecstasy

You probably recognize at least one if not all of those from drug awareness programs you had in school. The next schedule of drugs has a potential for abuse but not as high as Schedule I.

Schedule II

Schedule II drugs do have a high potential for abuse. They're also considered dangerous and can cause a physical and psychological dependence. Take a look at the types of Schedule II drugs and see if you recognize any of the names.

Here are examples of Schedule II drugs:

  • Cocaine
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Methadone
  • OxyContin

The next schedule of drugs is the Schedule III, which also have the potential for abuse and misuse.

Schedule III

Schedule III drugs have a low or moderate potential for dependency. They are less likely to be abused that Schedules I and II but are more likely to be abused than Schedule IV. Examples of Schedule III drugs include:

  • Vicodin (combination products with 15 milligrams or less of hydrocodone per dose)
  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Ketamine
  • Testosterone

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