Classifying Drugs Using The USA’s Scheduling System

Within the United States, all drugs are classified under the Controlled Substances Act. In this act, there are five Schedules of drugs and each with their own characteristics. When congress first introduced the Controlled Substances Act, the primary mandate was to heighten control over the regulation of addictive and dangerous substances within America. This act established the five different Schedules and made moves in elevating management around the importing and exporting of controlled substances to and from international countries. Currently, the Controlled Substances Act is enforced by the DEA (Drug Enforcement Agency), but there are a few other government bodies that also assist in classifying specific substances including NIDA (National Institute of Drug Abuse), and the Department of Health.

Differentiating Between Schedules

If you talk to one of your friends or family members, you may find that not many people can accurately classify well-known drugs into the Schedule system. Many people don’t even realize that caffeine is a controlled substance and so are over-the-counter allergy medications. While some substances and medicines throughout America are vital to preserving the health of citizens and aiding in disease treatment, many can also be very dangerous when abused, often with a high potential for addiction. To keep everyone in the USA safe and away from the threat of hazardous substances, the CSA outlined five Schedules to classify drugs correctly. The system is based on their danger, and medical benefits with the least medical benefits and most dangerous being Schedule I. Outlined below is a summary of the distinctions between Schedules V through I.


Schedule V drugs are the least dangerous, and as such, they have a very low possibility of becoming abused. This classification also signifies that the Schedule V drugs are hardly or not at all addictive. If someone were to become addicted to a Schedule V substance, they would experience minor physical or psychological dependence. Within the United States, Schedule V drugs are well-known and accepted as beneficial forms of treatment by healthcare practitioners. Some commonly known Schedule V drugs are Pyrovalerone, and cough medicines with small concentrations of Codeine. 


Schedule IV drugs have a slightly higher potential for abuse than Schedule V drugs but still very low. Like Schedule V, doctors and healthcare professionals widely recognize Schedule IV drugs as beneficial substances to treat a variety of conditions. Some of the most common Schedule IV drugs that you may have heard of are Xanax, a medication used to combat anxiety, and Valium. You may notice that while these are commonly used substances, they are not easily accessible unless you have a proper diagnosis.


Schedule III drugs can be dangerous with a higher potential for the user to abuse. While there are still widely known uses for medicine in the American healthcare system, if someone were to abuse, they would develop a moderate level of addiction. This addiction could result in higher psychological dependence and low dependence physically. The common painkiller, Vicodin, is a Schedule III drug as well as caffeine and Testosterone.


Schedule II drugs are very likely to become abused, especially if the user experiences drug addiction. When someone abuses a Schedule II drug, it will almost always lead to a severe dependency both psychologically and physically. Even though these drugs can potentially be hazardous, there are still some niche medical uses for them but only in severe health cases. Adderall and OxyContin are both Schedule II drugs.


Schedule I drugs are the most addictive and have the highest likelihood of being abused by users. Within the United States, there are no recognized or acceptable medical uses for these drugs. These are often illegal substances that can cause extreme dependency if used even once. Familiar members of the Schedule I category are heroin and LSD. Consumers can usually suffer severe legal action if they have a Schedule I drug.

Kratom & The Law

When looking at the natural substance Kratom, several US states and cities have banned it, yet it still has not been classified within the Schedule system. As there is technically no ban on Kratom at a federal level, consumers can still purchase the substance as long as it is in a state and city where it is legal; trusted the vendor is reputable. 

In cases where holistic treatments are mistaken for dangerous substances, consumers tend to find themself hesitant about making a purchase. While Kratom has not yet found a place in the Schedule system and does not remain legal everywhere, it does not disprove that it can be an effective holistic medicine in some patients. Suppose you consult with a Kratom retailer about their refining processes. In that case, you can guarantee you will be working with a company that uses fair trade business principles while also taking safety seriously. 

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