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What is a Schedule 1 Drug? - Controlled Substances Guide

What is a Schedule 1 Drug?

In the 1970s, President Nixon signed the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) into law. While this is certainly not the first time that drugs were legally regulated, this was an attempt to classify a drug’s potential for abuse and dependency. The CSA gave ultimate power to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) over what should be deemed a controlled substance.

The DEA Schedule system was created to help lawmakers, medical staff, and law enforcement understand how to treat controlled substances.

According to the DEA drug schedule, drugs can be categorized into five schedules, with Schedule 1 drugs having the greatest risk for abuse.

Today, we’ll discuss what a Schedule 1 drug is and why the drug schedule is important.

Drug Schedules

The CSA refers to a controlled substance as it pertains to federal law. However, there may be amendments to the list as individual states hold their own legislation. A notable case of what’s considered Schedule 1 in one state and not another is marijuana. While cannabis, specifically the compound THC, has been legalized or decriminalized in many states, according to the federal government, it’s still a Schedule 1 drug.

Schedule 1 Drugs

Schedule I drugs, similar to the UK’s Class A drugs, are deemed as high-risk substances that are easily abused and are highly addictive. According to the DEA, the drugs in this schedule currently hold no accepted medical benefit, and therefore, no prescriptions may be written for Schedule 1 substances. These drugs also have a lack of acceptable safety for use under medical supervision.

Note that a compound doesn’t need to be listed as one of over one hundred Schedule 1 controlled substances for a court to treat it as one.

The most common Schedule 1 drugs include:

Bath Salts (the most common Synthetic Cathinones being methylenedioxypyrovalerone (MDPV), 4-methyl-N-methylcathinone (mephedrone), and 3,4-methylenedioxy-N-methylcathinone (methylone)) 

The effects of bath salts are commonly euphoria, increased focus, and increased libido.  

Ecstasy (MDMA or 3,4-Methylenedioxymethamphetamine)

Ecstasy is a synthetic drug that alters mood, empathy, and perception.

GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyric acid)

GHB is a sedative that is frequently abused with alcohol.

Heroin (diacetylmorphine) 

Heroin is converted to morphine and binds rapidly to opioid receptors in the brain, leading to a “rush.” This is usually followed by extreme nausea and slowed organ function.

LSD (Lysergic acid diethylamide)

LSD, otherwise known as acid, is a hallucinogenic drug that induces altered thoughts and can produce both visual and auditory hallucinations. 

Magic Mushrooms (Psilocybin)

Found in over 200 types of mushrooms, the compounds psilocybin and psilocin found in magic mushrooms, have been used by many cultures to experience hallucinations.  

Marijuana (cannabis, THC)

THC is the principal psychoactive constituent of cannabis that differentiates hemp from marijuana. Marijuana is used recreationally to create a sense of euphoria and elation.

Mescaline (Peyote)

Mescaline is a psychedelic hallucinogen that is extracted from the Peyote cactus. It produces similar effects akin to those found with Magic Mushrooms or LSD.

Spice/K2 (Synthetic marijuana)

Spice and K2 are the most popular names for a group of new psychoactive substances (NPS) that are lab-created, mind-altering substances. The aim is to replicate the effects of THC.

Quaalude (Methaqualone)

Quaaludes are a central nervous system (CNS) depressant that can create sensations of relaxation and euphoria. It has a history of being heavily prescribed in the 1970s before having greater restrictions placed on it in later years.

Schedule 2 Drugs

Schedule 2 drugs are similar to Schedule 1 drugs, in that they have a high tendency for abuse and creating physical and mental dependencies. However, Schedule 2 drugs can include both illegal and prescription medication.

Common Schedule 2 drugs include: 

Adderall (dextroamphetamine and dextroamphetamine)

Adderall is usually used to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), however, it can be abused due to its side effect of creating focus. 

Cocaine (cocaine hydrochloride crystal)

Cocaine is an extremely potent drug that is derived from the leaves of the cocoa plant.

Methamphetamine (amphetamine )

Meth, also known as crystal meth or ice, is a highly addictive stimulant that boosts the central nervous system. It’s a man-made substance that takes amphetamine found in over the counter drugs and combined with various chemicals, such as battery acid, to enhance its properties.

OxyContin/ Percocet (oxycodone)

OxyContin and Percocet are brand name pain-killers that contain the opioid oxycodone. 

Schedule 3 Drugs

Schedule 3 drugs have a low to moderate chance of creating a physical or mental dependency. 

Common Schedule 3 drugs include:

Tylenol 3

Tylenol 3 is similar to its OTC counterpart with the exception that it contains codeine. Codeine is a pain reliever that also acts as a cough suppressant.


Ketamine was originally used as anesthesia and as a pain reliever. However, if abused, it can produce hallucinations.

Anabolic Steroids

Anabolic steroids are synthetic versions of testosterone. They are frequently abused to create muscle mass. 

Schedule 4 Drugs

Schedule 4 drugs have a low probability of creating a physical or psychological dependence. 

The most commonly abused schedule 4 drugs include:

Ambien (zolpidem)

Ambien is a sedative and hypnotic. Its medical purpose is to treat insomnia. Abusing Ambien can create a euphoria that removes personal inhibition.

Xanax (alprazolam)

Xanax is a benzodiazepine, also known as Benzos, a medication that affects the central nervous system and is used to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and panic disorders. The most common side effects are drowsiness, sleepiness, or dizziness.

Schedule 5

Schedule 5 drugs, substances are the lowest tier of controlled substances. This lesser rank is due to their lower potential for abuse.

Schedule 5 drugs include:

Cough medicines with codeine 

Codeine, which is also found in Tylenol 3, is a common pain reliever and cough suppressant.

Ezogabine (anticonvulsants)

Ezogabine is a drug that is used to control seizures in adult sufferers.

The Importance of Drug Schedules

Drug schedules take into consideration factors other than how much of a risk that they pose. Where a drug ranks on the schedule also reflects its medical value. 

As described in the above list, a Schedule 2 drug can be legal for medical purposes while another drug in the same schedule can be completely illegal. 

A drug schedule creates a framework that allows the federal government to decide on how to control a substance.

Drug Testing For All Types

If you would like to learn more, contact Countrywide Testing at (619) 292-8734. We offer a variety of drug tests and medical resources so that you can always stay informed.