What are the Schedules of Drugs?

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment Center  |  Normandy, TN

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What Does A Drug Schedule Mean?

If you’ve ever caught yourself wondering about the different schedules of drugs or how drug classification works, you’re not alone. Drugs – both pharmaceutical and illegal – are classified in several ways, so it can be tricky figuring out the differences between types of drugs, drug schedules, and other categories.

Drug schedules in the United States were first defined by the Controlled Substances Act, which sought to identify and organize drugs under federal law into categories based on their potential for harm.

How Are Schedules Categorized

Drug schedules categorize drugs into five classifications based on three main factors:

  1. Addictive Properties
  2. Potential for Abuse
  3. Medical Usage

The CSA drug schedules consist of controlled substances that are either illegal or prescription drugs.

In general, drugs are ranked from Type I (most addictive and potentially harmful) to Type V (very low likelihood of addiction and harm.) To schedule a new drug, the DEA first determines whether it can be abused. If the answer is “yes, the drug can be abused,” then the DEA moves the drug forward in the scheduling system, where its potential for abuse and harm dictates its classification.1

What is the Controlled Substances Act?

The United States established the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in 1970, and President Nixon signed it into law on October 27th of that year. The CSA was established to regulate how drugs could be produced, sold, and used in the United States.2

The main goal of the Controlled Substances Act was to protect the public from harm induced by addictive and damaging substances as well as to create a system of rules and regulations that assessed the varying degree of danger of each drug schedule.

The schedule of drugs can be adjusted by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Department of Health and Human Services, or any other party that petitions the DEA. The Controlled Substances Act applies to federal law, meaning there may be variations in the enforcement of drug schedules from state to state.

The Drug Schedules

Schedule I Controlled Substances

Schedule I substances are recognized as incredibly dangerous drugs. These substances typically present the highest potential for physical or psychological dependency and abuse. Schedule I drugs currently have no medical purposes. They are not considered safe even with medical supervision, and they are illegal under federal law.

Common Schedule I drugs include:3

  • Heroin
  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • Ecstasy
  • Marijuana
  • Peyote
  • Quaaludes (i.e. methaqualone)
  • GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid)

It’s important to note that federally, the DEA still considers marijuana a Schedule I drug. Regulations vary from state to state, though, and many researchers have expressed frustration at marijuana’s Schedule I classification. The classification of marijuana prevents further research on its potential health benefits and consequences.

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Schedule II substances are at high risk for psychological or physical dependency and abuse. Unlike Schedule I drugs, Schedule II drugs have accepted uses in medical settings in the U.S. However, their use is highly controlled and supervised.

Common Schedule II drugs include:4

  • Cocaine
  • Methamphetamine
  • PCP (phencyclidine)
  • Fentanyl
  • Ritalin
  • Adderall
  • Methadone
  • Morphine
  • Hydromorphone (Dilaudid)
  • Meperidine (Demerol)
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet)

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Schedule III drugs are considered much less dangerous than Schedule I or II drugs. Substances in this category are accepted for medical use and may be prescribed for common illnesses, injuries, or other health matters. 

While the danger for abuse and addiction still exists, these types of drugs do not present the same levels of danger as Schedule I or II and can often be purchased at your local pharmacy with a prescription.

Common Schedule III drugs include:5

  • Ketamine
  • Vicodin
  • Anabolic steroids
  • Codeine
  • Barbiturates
  • Products with > 90 mg of codeine (i.e. Tylenol with codeine)

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Schedule IV substances have a lower risk for dependence and abuse than Schedule III drugs. These drugs serve clear medical purposes and are commonly prescribed by physicians for a range of medical uses.

Common Schedule IV drugs include:6

  • Xanax (Alprazolam)
  • Ativan (lorazepam)
  • Valium (diazepam)
  • Klonopin (clonazepam)
  • Soma (carisoprodol)
  • Darvon (propoxyphene)
  • Ambien (zolpidem)
  • Tramadol

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Schedule V substances are the least likely to incur physical or mental dependence or to lead to harm. Physicians prescribe these substances for a wide variety of health matters, including analgesic, antidiarrheal, and antitussive purposes. Conditions like fibromyalgia and irritable bowel syndrome often require prescriptions for Schedule V substances.

These drugs are Schedule V because they often contain limited quantities of narcotics that in high amounts could lead to abuse and dependency.

Common Schedule V drugs include:7

  • Cough medicines with < 200 mg of codeine per 100 ml
    • Robitussin AC
    • Phenergan with codeine
  • Ezogabine

Other Drug Categories

Drug classifications are determined in a few ways. The CSA classifies drugs based on their potential for harm and dependency, as well as their medical usage.

However, drug categories are also assigned by the type of drug, their chemical make-up, their effects on the brain and body, and different agencies creating their own system drug classification system. Drugs are easily categorized into five classes of drugs, assigned by their main features and chemical properties. These five classes of drugs are:

  • Narcotics
  • Hallucinogens
  • Anabolic Steroids
  • Depressants
  • Stimulants

These classes are not to be confused with the USP Drug Classification system or the Anatomical Therapeutic Classification System. 

What Is Not Included in the CSA’s Schedule Drugs?

You might be surprised to find that several common, drug-store pharmaceuticals are not on the schedule of drugs. Drugs whose risks are considered minimal and are not likely to cause harm and endanger the public aren’t classified as “controlled substances” or included in the schedule of drugs. 

Drugs like diabetes medication, heart pressure medication, asthma inhalers, antibiotics, and most over-the-counter prescriptions are not considered potentially addictive or harmful, so you won’t find them included in the CSA’s schedule of drugs. Alcohol and Tobacco are also currently not regulated under the CSA.


  1. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/drug-scheduling
  2. https://www.dea.gov/drug-information/csa
  3. https://www.deadiversion.
  4. https://www.deadiversion.
  5. https://www.deadiversion
  6. https://www.deadiversion.
  7. https://www.deadiversion.
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Gina Bowman

Executive Assistant

Gina Bowman is the Executive Assistant at Brooks Healing Center. She was born in Florida but resides in Murfreesboro, Tennessee with her husband, Tyler Bowman, and two daughters Charlotte and Isabella.

Gina is a friendly, loyal, and dedicated individual. She has a heart for helping others and understands the effects of addiction and the toll it can take on families. She is the one that helps make things happen behind the scenes and brings fun ideas to Brooks Healing Center as well as keeping things organized. 

Colleen Bradford, MBA, BA-MHR

Executive Director, Human Resources Director

Colleen Believes servitude towards others provides a solid foundation for personal and professional growth. She is a calm problem solver who juggles multiple situations simultaneously and works confidently and efficiently in even the most challenging, fast-paced environments. She is highly regarded for her consistent ability to apply sound judgment, emotional intelligence, and etiquette to sensitive, confidential, and unpredictable situations. She is an organized, professional, resourceful, and seasoned healthcare professional with diverse skills for boosting organizational productivity and quality of care initiatives.

Colleen has a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree in business administration with a minor in health care administration from Trevecca Nazarene University. She has been married for 32 years to Doyle Bradford, and they have two sons, Thomas and Allen Bradford, along with two grandchildren, Ben and Faith Bradford. She is excited to have this unique opportunity to serve her community. She is a phenomenal cookie baker and mother figure to those at the Brooks Healing Center. We are honored to have her be a part of our vision. 

Frank Throneberry

Co-Founder and COO

Frank is a lifelong 7th generation native of Middle Tennessee. Frank cares for his local community and keeping Tennessee healthy, knowing that people all over the USA seek out his home state’s friendly and outdoor atmosphere. He is a hardworking and energetic person that is no stranger to going out of his way to help others.

Frank started his recovery from alcohol and substance abuse over seven years ago. He is continually working on a recovery program and became passionate about sharing his story, helping others, and supporting others to find freedom from their addiction. He also formerly owned and managed ‘recovery community’ homes where he walked with and encouraged many individuals in their journey. Frank’s servant attitude is what helps him listen, understand, and put others’ needs first.

Outside of his career, Frank cherishes his time with his wife, Maribeth, and his three children: Jackson, Piper, and Charlie. They enjoy the great outdoors on their family farm in Shelbyville, TN, and boating and fishing with family on Tim’s Ford Lake. He is a dedicated husband and father. 

James “Tyler” Bowman

Founder and CEO

Tyler is the heart of the Brooks Healing Center. His vision is to guide others to find their own recovery and to thrive in life. Tyler was fortunate to have lived through his addiction and now finds fulfillment in serving others. Tyler has worked in the substance abuse field for over five years and felt convicted to build a place where individuals are loved until they can learn to love themselves.  

Tyler has the love and support of his family as he continues to provide care to those who have lost themselves along the way. Tyler is the father of two daughters, Charlotte, his oldest, and Isabella, his youngest. Tyler’s wife, Gina, supports the Brooks Healing Center’s vision, and she shares his passion for helping others as well.  

Tyler has a story to tell and is willing to share his experiences, good or bad, with anyone. Brooks Healing Center is the way he gives back for all he took when he was using. For the past seven years, Tyler has gone beyond to share his recovery and is thriving in life.