What Is A Controlled Substance? A Complete List

Medically Reviewed by Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022

Schedules of controlled substances are based on their medical use and potential for abuse. They may include opioids, stimulants, depressants, hallucinogens, and anabolic steroids.

List Of Controlled Substances

Some drugs are tightly controlled by the government, because they may be abused and lead to addiction and physical dependency.

Substances such as oxycodone, methadone, hydrocodone, meperidine, hydromorphone, Tylenol with codeine, and others fall into this category of drugs.

The Controlled Substances Act (CSA) of 1970 places all federally regulated substances into one of five schedules. The schedule placement is based on the drug’s medical use, potential for abuse, and safety.

For example, drugs such as morphine, Ritalin, and Valium are only available by prescription from a medical professional.

Other substances such as heroin, MDMA, and LSD have no medical use and are currently illegal in the U.S.

List Of Controlled Substances By Schedule

The drugs listed below have been deemed by federal law as potentially dangerous due to research conducted by public health and law enforcement professionals.

The most addictive and harmful substances are listed as Schedule I drugs, while medications with the least potential for abuse are currently under Schedule V.

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Schedule I Controlled Substances

Schedule I drugs have a high potential for abuse and no currently accepted medical use.


Marijuana, also known as cannabis or “weed”, is still considered a Schedule I drug by the DEA, even though several states have legalized the drug for recreational or medical use.

Learn more about marijuana as a controlled substance.

Other Schedule I Drugs

Because Schedule I drugs have the highest potential for abuse and no known medical use, there are many substances in this schedule.

Schedule I drugs include:

  • LSD (lysergic acid diethylamide)
  • heroin
  • mescaline (peyote)
  • street methamphetamine
  • MDMA (ecstasy)
  • fentanyl opiates
  • methaqualone

Schedule II Controlled Substances

Schedule II substances have a high potential for abuse, but also have acceptable medical use in treatment with strong restrictions.


Adderall is in the stimulant drug class and has been extensively abused. Misusing Adderall may lead to tolerance, psychological dependence, and more.

Read more about Adderall as a controlled substance.

Ritalin (Methylphenidate)

Ritalin is a stimulant used primarily to treat attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Misuse of Ritalin may lead to delirium, confusion, and hallucinations.

Learn more about Ritalin as a controlled substance.


Vyvanse is a prescription drug used to treat ADHD and is oftentimes abused as a study aid or recreational drug.

Dangerous side effects of Vyvanse abuse include seizures, cardiac arrest, and sudden death.

Learn more about Vyvanse as a controlled substance.

Zoloft (Sertraline)

Zoloft is a commonly prescribed antidepressant that helps alleviate symptoms of depression, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), and anxiety disorders.

People who abuse Zoloft are at risk to develop physical and psychological addiction as well as side effects such as dizziness, headache, tremors, and more.

Read about Zoloft as a controlled substance.

Schedule III Controlled Substances

Schedule III drugs have less potential for abuse and have accepted medical use in the U.S. Abuse of Schedule III drugs may lead to moderate physical or psychological dependence.


Fioricet (butalbital) is a medication prescribed for chronic tension headaches. Abuse of Fioricet can lead to addiction and, if suddenly stopped, people may experience withdrawal symptoms.

Learn about Fioricet as a controlled substance.


Ketamine, also known as Special K and Vitamin K, is an anesthetic for animals and is also misused recreationally in the club scene.

Ketamine is sometimes used medically to sedate children who have had adverse reactions to other medications, or in burn therapy.

Learn more about Ketamine as a controlled substance.

Suboxone (Buprenorphine)

Suboxone is used medically to treat opioid and heroin addiction. When taken as prescribed, it can help reduce opioid cravings and alleviate withdrawal side effects.

People who take Suboxone recreationally may develop an addiction to the substance.

Read about why Suboxone is a controlled substance.

Viagra (Sildenafil)

Viagra is a prescription drug used to treat erectile dysfunction. Men who abuse Viagra are at much higher risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

Read about the controlled substance Viagra.

Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Schedule IV drugs have a low potential for abuse and are widely accepted for medical use. While people may get psychologically addicted to these drugs, the potential for physical dependence is low.

Ambien (Zolpidem)

Ambien is a hypnotic drug used to treat people with insomnia. Recreational use and abuse of Ambien may lead to adverse side effects such as behavioral changes, hallucinations, and depression.

Read more about why Ambien is a controlled substance.


Ativan is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety disorder. Prolonged use of Ativan may lead to physical and psychological addiction, particularly among people with a history of substance abuse.

Learn about the controlled substance Ativan.

Klonopin (Clonazepam)

Klonopin is a benzodiazepine that may be habit-forming after a few weeks of use. This drug is commonly prescribed by doctors to reduce stress and anxiety.

Signs of Klonopin addiction include strong cravings, loss of interest in social or professional obligations, and the development of financial issues.

Read more about why Klonopin is a controlled substance.


Lunesta is commonly prescribed to treat insomnia and can be habit-forming when misused. Signs of Lunesta dependence include irritability, seizures, muscle cramps, and sun sensitivity.

Read more about Lunesta as a controlled substance.


The barbiturate drug phenobarbital is used to control epileptic seizures and other types of seizures.

There are many potential risks associated with abusing phenobarbital including cognitive impairment and increased risk of stroke or heart attack.

Learn more phenobarbital as a controlled substance.


Phentermine is an appetite suppressant that’s commonly prescribed to people trying to lose weight.

Due to its amphetamine-like properties, the drug phentermine can be abused for its stimulant effects. Repeated misuse of stimulants such as phentermine can cause psychosis and paranoia.

Read more about why phentermine is a controlled substance.


Provigil is given to people with narcolepsy and other sleep disorders to help reduce sleepiness. It is a central nervous system stimulant drug that can be abused when taken not as directed.

Learn more about why Provigil is a controlled substance.


Prozac is a prescription drug used to treat conditions such as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD).

Signs of psychological dependence and addiction to Prozac may include aggressive behavior, irritability, hallucinations, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts or behaviors.

Read about why Prozac is a controlled substance.


Restoril (temazepam) is a benzodiazepine prescribed to treat insomnia, anxiety disorders, muscle spasms, and disorders such as epilepsy.

Due to its sedating effects, Restoril is a popular drug of misuse and can lead to tolerance and physical dependence.

Learn more about why Restoril is a controlled substance.


Robaxin is a muscle relaxant that provides people with pain relief from injuries or muscle spasms.

Side effects of Robaxin may include blurred vision, nausea, and headaches, and may be exacerbated with alcohol use.

Learn more about why Robaxin is a controlled substance.


Tramadol is an opioid painkiller used to treat moderate pain. People who misuse tramadol are at risk for developing tolerance and addiction.

Learn about tramadol as a controlled substance.

Valium (Diazepam)

Valium is a controlled substance due to its abuse potential and risk for physical and psychological dependence.

It is used primarily to treat anxiety, alcohol withdrawal, and seizures. It may also be administered to relieve muscle spasms before medical procedures.

Read more about why Valium is a controlled substance.

Xanax (Alprazolam)

Xanax is a benzodiazepine used to treat anxiety, panic disorders, and insomnia.

Xanax can be addictive when used over a long period of time, and can eventually lead to coma or overdose death if taken with other drugs or alcohol.

Read about why Xanax is a controlled substance.

Schedule V Controlled Substances

Schedule V substances have the lowest potential for abuse among all controlled substances. Abuse of these medications may lead to limited psychological or physical dependence.


Lyrica is an anticonvulsant drug that is prescribed to treat seizures and provide pain relief.

Used on its own, Lyrica is not considered very addictive, but when mixed with substances such as heroin or alcohol it can be extremely dangerous.

Read about why Lyrica is a controlled substance.

Commonly Abused Drugs That Are Not Controlled Substances

Many drugs are not under the CSA because they don’t have a high potential for addiction or abuse, or they have not yet been exhaustively tested enough to determine their abuse potential.


Clonidine is used to treat high blood pressure (hypertension). Some doctors prescribe clonidine to treat anxiety symptoms.

Read about why Clonidine is not a controlled substance.


Flexeril is a prescription muscle relaxer that treats short-term pain, discomfort, injuries, and muscle spasms.

Taking Flexeril does not produce a euphoric high like other drugs, but it is misused among some people due to its relaxing effects.

Learn more about why Flexeril is not a controlled substance.


Gabapentin is a neuropathic pain reliever that is increasingly prescribed by doctors as a substitute for opioid painkillers.

Recently it has been found that gabapentin overdose deaths are common when the substance is misused. Taken by itself in large doses, it is said to produce a marijuana-like high.

Read more about why gabapentin is not a controlled substance.


Kratom comes from the leaves of a tropical tree found in Southeast Asia. People use kratom to reduce opioid withdrawal symptoms and cravings, as well as to manage pain and mental health problems.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not approved kratom for any medical uses, however, and is currently reviewing the substance for potentially adverse effects.

Learn more about why Kratom is not a controlled substance.


Buspar is an anti-anxiety medication that is prescribed to treat symptoms associated with ongoing anxiety disorders.

It is possible to get high on very large doses of Buspar, but the overall potential for abuse is quite low compared to other drugs.

Read more about why Buspar is not a controlled substance.


Seroquel is used for the treatment of schizophrenia as well as bipolar disorder and other types of depressive disorders.

Even though Seroquel is not a scheduled drug, it does have a potential for abuse when not taken as directed.

Learn more about why Seroquel is not a controlled substance.


Strattera is a medication used to treat ADHD. It differs from other ADHD drugs in that it is not a stimulant.

Strattera does not produce feelings of euphoria and people will not get high when they take it. In some cases, however, prolonged Strattera use may lead to tolerance which in turn can increase the risk for overdose.

Read more about why Strattera is not a controlled substance.


Trazodone is an antidepressant that is sometimes prescribed by doctors to treat alcohol dependence and insomnia.

While the potential for addiction is low, taking trazodone for months or years may result in dependence.

Learn more about why trazodone is not a controlled substance.


Vivitrol is a drug approved by the FDA for treatment of opioid and alcohol dependence. Due to the opioid antagonist properties of Vivitrol, there isn’t a potential for addiction.

Some people may abuse Vivitrol by continuing to abuse opioids while starting Vivitrol treatment, which can result in opioid overdose.

Learn more about Vivitrol as a controlled substance.

Wellbutrin (Bupropion)

Wellbutrin is an antidepressant approved for the treatment of depression, bipolar disorder, ADHD, and seasonal affective disorder (SAD).

People who take Wellbutrin as prescribed are unlikely to develop an addiction to the drug, but it has been known to happen when very large doses are ingested over a period of time.

Read more about why Wellbutrin is not a controlled substance.

Treatment Options For Substance Abuse

If you or a loved one are misusing drugs or alcohol, a treatment program for addiction recovery can provide the evidence-based services you need to reach sobriety.

Treatment options at a rehab facility may include medication-assisted treatment (MAT), medical detox, inpatient care, outpatient treatment, and counseling services.

Find Substance Use Disorder Treatment Today

Call our helpline today for more information on controlled substances, drug abuse, and rehab programs that will help you reach long-term recovery from addiction.

This page does not provide medical advice. See more

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Medically Reviewed by
Johnelle Smith, M.D. on September 2, 2022
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