What is a controlled drug?
The Federal Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) rates drugs in order of their abuse risk,
accepted medical use in the United States, and their potential for dependence, and places them
in one of five "Schedules", or classifications. Schedule I contains drugs with the highest
abuse potential; Schedule V, the lowest. (Schedules are also designated as C1, C2, C3, C4, and
- Schedule I drugs, such as heroin, marijuana, and crack cocaine, are those determined to
have no safe and accepted medical use in the U.S.
- Schedule II drugs are accepted for medical use in this country, but also have a high
potential for abuse and can cause severe physical or psychological dependence. This schedule
includes certain narcotic, depressant, and stimulant drugs.
- Schedules III, IV, and V drugs include medically accepted drugs with less risk for abuse,
including certain anti-anxiety drugs, tranquilizers, and non-narcotic pain relievers.
Visit our Drug Information section to get details about specific drugs.