Drug Classifications and Schedules Explained

Drugs and chemicals are separated into five classifications based on a variety of factors. These classifications, or schedules, are used by medical professionals, drug manufacturers, and the government to protect the public from potentially dangerous or addictive drugs.

Whenever prescription drugs, narcotics, or controlled substances are mentioned, a “class” or “schedule” is typically included. Keep reading to learn more about the specifics of drug schedules and how they are determined.

What are drug classifications? Drug classifications were first put in place by the Controlled Substances Act (CSA) in the 1970s. Since that time, the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) were named responsible for determining whether or not substances are fit for medical use.

Both legal and illegal substances are controlled by the CSA, which provides an outline for the five classifications of drugs. Each classification comes with its own set of regulations. Regulations for drugs include possession, manufacturing, importation, use, and distribution. The CSA does not include alcohol or tobacco products among the classified substances.