Controlled Substances Act and Scheduling

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What is the Controlled Substances Act?

The Controlled Substances Act, also known as the CSA, is a federal policy for regulating of all drugs. This federal legislation stipulates measures for the control of drugs prescribed by a medical professional and drugs sold over the counter and drugs are considered illegal.

Through the CSA, the government can review and make provisions for the effects using such drugs by highlighting what drugs are most prone to abuse and misuse by citizens. The drugs regulated by the Controlled Substances Act are referred to as “Controlled Substances”. It’s fair to wonder, then, is alcohol a controlled substance, too. It is not.

What is Scheduling?

Scheduling is a way of organizing data. Through scheduling, data is arranged and controlled into easily accessible quotas. The government provides rules and regulations for the various categories of drugs to which an individual may be exposed.

The Drug Enforcement Agency determines the likelihood of abuse of a given drug or substance. The law is also used to determine the punishment for those found guilty of possession or use of illegal substances.

Understanding the Controlled Substances Act

The Controlled Substances Act provides rules for how drugs can be produced, sold, and used in the United States of America. These rules govern both legal and illegal substances. Under the CSA, both the DEA and the Food and Drug Administration are empowered to engage in the classification of substances under the law. Generally, CSA regulations place restrictions on drugs with regards to their:

  • Manufacture
  • Possession
  • Importation
  • Use
  • Distribution

Drug Classes

The CSA is divided into five different schedules that regulate the various categories of drugs, based on DEA categorizations. However, CSA classifications differ from the typically known “classes” of drugs. The usual five classes of drugs are:

  • Depressants
  • Stimulants
  • Anabolic
  • Hallucinogens
  • Steroids

Conversely, drugs are placed into schedules based on their medical use, safety for consumption, and potential abuse by individuals across the board. Thus, a depressant and a hallucinogen may fall under the same category or schedule in the categorization done by the Act whereas, in the usual classes, a depressant and hallucinogen would fall under different classes.

Drug Schedules Under the Controlled Substances Act

Generally, Section 201(c), provides the factors which help determine what category a controlled substance will fall into. These are:

  • Its actual or relative potential for abuse
  • Scientific evidence of its pharmacological effect, if known
  • The state of current scientific knowledge regarding the substance
  • Its history and current pattern of abuse
  • The scope, duration, and significance of abuse
  • What, if any, risk there is to the public health
  • Its psychic or physiological dependence liability
  • Whether the substance is an immediate precursor of a substance already controlled under this subchapter

The schedules are divided as follows:

  1. Schedule I Controlled Substances

This schedule deals with substances that have a very high risk of abuse. Under this category, the drugs and substances are currently without medical use and are not deemed suitable for use by individuals even under medical supervision. These kinds of substances include marijuana, heroin, ecstasy, hallucinogens, lysergic acid, and methaqualone, among others.

  1. Schedule II Controlled Substances

Schedule II of the Act deals with drugs and substances with a very high potential for abuse and misuse by individuals. However, the drugs under this schedule have some recognized medicinal value. This means that these substances can be accepted for medical use under “restricted” circumstances unlike Schedule I substances. Methamphetamine, Morphine, Cocaine, Adderall, Ritalin, and Dexedrine, among others, fall in this category.

  1. Schedule III Controlled Substances

Schedule III includes substances with a moderate or low-level potential for abuse and accepted for medical use in the United States. Although they have a lower potential for abuse than the substances in Schedule I and II, abuse of Schedule III substances may lead to physical or psychological dependence. This schedule is home to substances like Codeine, anabolic steroids, Buprenorphine, and Ketamine.

  1. Schedule IV Controlled Substances

Schedule IV contains substances that are deemed generally acceptable for use in medical treatment in the United States. These drugs have less potential for abuse than the substances in Schedule III. Abuse of the drug may result in limited physical dependence or psychological dependence. Drugs that fall into this category include Darvon, Valium, Xanax, Lunesta, Tramadol, and Ativan, among others.

  1. Schedule V Controlled Substances

Substances scheduled here have the lowest potential for abuse. Consequently, these drugs are widely accepted for medical and medicinal purposes across the United States. The substances under this schedule usually deal with prescriptions to control specific health complications.

What is Alcohol?

Alcohol is a psychoactive drug best known by the chemical name “ethanol.” It is produced through a process of fermentation. Alcohol is a depressant. This means that it slows down your brain cells and reduces your body functions to a minimal level. The effect alcohol has on you is dependent on the amount that is consumed as well as other factors.

Is Alcohol a Controlled Substance?

Although alcohol is similar in many ways to the substances regulated by the Controlled Substances Act, alcohol is not itself regulated by the Act. It’s fair to ask, “Is alcohol a controlled substance?” Alcohol fails to meet the criteria for controlled substances. Notwithstanding this fact, alcohol is regulated by federal law, the most prominent of which is the 21st Amendment, which repealed the national prohibition.

Under the 21st Amendment, individual States are given freedom over alcohol policy, including decisions such as:

  • Whether or not to allow the production and sale of alcohol in a state
  • Whether to permit the importation of alcohol into the state
  • The distribution of alcohol in the state and other related matters

Aside from the 21st Amendment, alcohol is also regulated by the Alcohol & Tobacco Laws under the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) of 1986. In line with this law, the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB) is responsible for regulating alcohol. Alcohol is still subject to regulatory control by a legal framework set aside for that specific purpose.

Treatment at Resurgence

Our trained specialists at Resurgence are available for more in-depth discussions of substances regulated in the Controlled Substances Act. With the level of increase in mental health-related issues, there is scarcely a better time to gain knowledge of these substances, their harmful potentials, and the safe means of their use.

At Resurgence, we are dedicated to filling the existing knowledge gap on substances and their use and abuse. This will help you make more informed decisions, thereby positively impacting on societal health in the long run.

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