Drug Classifications: Schedule 1-5 Drugs

While the list of drugs is continually being updated (and each state can have its own list), there are five basic classifications, or schedules, of drugs: 

Since 1970 the United States has maintained the Controlled Substance Act in an effort to protect the general public from potentially dangerous and addictive drugs. Controlled substances give the government a way to organize and categorize different drugs, based on their tendency to be addictive or on their potential to harm the general public.



Schedule 1 drugs have no accepted medical use in the United States, and using schedule 1 drugs can put a person at a high risk for developing a substance use disorder. Some familiar drugs assigned a schedule 1 class include: 


Using schedule 2 drugs can also put a person at a high risk for developing a substance use disorder. This class of drugs includes both illicit and prescription drugs.  

However, it’s important to note that when an individual takes prescription schedule 2 drugs as directed and under a doctor’s supervision, their risk for developing a substance use disorder is minimized. Some familiar drugs in the schedule 2 class include: 

  • Cocaine 
  • Morphine 
  • Hydrocodone (Vicodin) 
  • Hyrdomorphone (Dilaudid) 
  • Oxycodone (OxyContin, Percocet) 
  • Meperidine (Demerol) 
  • Fetanyl 
  • Methadone
  • Methamphetamine 
  • Adderall
  • Ritalin
  • Official list of Schedule 2 drugs


Using schedule 3 drugs puts a person at a lower risk for developing a substance use disorder than schedule 1 and 2 drugs but at a higher risk than schedule 4 and 5 drugs. Medical providers often prescribe schedule 3 drugs for illnesses, injuries, and other health-related reasons. Some familiar drugs in the schedule 3 class include: 

  • Ketamine 
  • Anabolic steroids 
  • Buprenorphine (Suboxone) 
  • Codeine and hydrocodone products mixed with aspirin or acetaminophen 
  • Official list of Schedule 3 drugs


Drugs that are classified as schedule 4 are often prescribed medications, and when a person uses schedule 4 drugs, they are at a very low risk for developing a substance use disorderSome familiar drugs in the schedule 4 class include: 


Schedule 5 drugs are also generally prescribed medications, and people have a lower risk for developing a substance use disorder when they use schedule 5 drugs than when they use schedule 4 drugsSome familiar drugs in the schedule 5 class include: 


The schedule of drugs refers primarily to a drug’s accepted medical use and the likelihood that a drug will cause a person to develop a substance use disorder. Drugs are also classified by their chemical makeup and the way they interact with the brain and body. 

Some common classifications include: 

  • Depressants 
  • Hallucinogens 
  • Inhalants 
  • Narcotics 
  • Steroids 
  • Stimulants