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Environmental Health and Safety

DEA Controlled Substances

Millie Tran, Biosafety Officer, 619-594-2865 <mdizon@mail.sdsu.edu>



Procedure for the Use of Controlled Substances in Research and Instruction

Controlled Substance Schedules and Drug Codes

For the sake of regulation, controlled substances are classified into five groups or “schedules” based on:

  • whether they have an accepted medical use
  • their relative potential for abuse
  • the degree of dependence that may be caused by abuse of the drug

Substances within each schedule are also divided into narcotic and non-narcotic categories.


The following characteristics apply to the schedules indicated:

1. Schedule I

(a) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(b) The drug or other substances has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(c) There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision.


2. Schedule II

(a) The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse.

(b) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States or a currently accepted use with severe restrictions.

(c) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to severe psychological or physical dependence.


3. Schedule III

(a) The drug or other substance has a potential for abuse less than the drugs or other substances in Schedules I and II.

(b) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(c) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to moderate or low physical dependence or high psychological dependence.


4. Schedule IV

(a) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III.

(b) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(c) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule III.


5. Schedule V

(a) The drug or other substance has a low potential for abuse relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV.

(b) The drug or other substance has a currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States.

(c) Abuse of the drug or other substance may lead to limited physical dependence or psychological dependence relative to the drugs or other substances in Schedule IV.


Each drug in the five schedules has been assigned a Drug Code Number. This number identifies the drug for administrative and other purposes, and should be referenced on requisitions, purchase orders and correspondence with DEA officials.

Appendix 1 lists Schedule I through V of the Controlled Substances and the Drug Codes associated with each controlled substance. The number and identity of substances that are controlled change periodically. If you have questions about a drug not on the list, contact EH&S <mdizon@mail.sdsu.edu>.

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This page last updated March 10, 2008
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