Medical Narcotics List

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Though it’s common to think of narcotics as one big group of drugs, this group consists of two general categories: “good” narcotics and “bad” narcotics. While all may fall within the same grouping, medical narcotics list drugs offer medicinal benefits while the more illegal narcotic drugs don’t.

What’s considered medicinal versus illegal varies from country to country. In the United States, medical narcotics list drugs fall within several different categories in terms of medicinal use, each of which produce different effects when ingested.

Medical Narcotics

Narcotics List

Many potentially addictive medications are placed on narcotics schedules.

Technically speaking, the word “narcotic” derives from the Greek word “narkos,” which means sleep. Actual narcotic drugs contain opiate materials. Within a legal context, narcotics encompass a wide range of different types of drugs. In terms of the medical narcotics list, the legal definition trumps the technical term. Not surprisingly, most of the opiate-based drugs in existence appear on the medical narcotics list.

According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, medical narcotics list drugs are considered controlled substances under the U.S. Controlled Substances Act. This piece of legislation divides controlled substances into five different schedules or groups:

  • Schedule I
  • Schedule II
  • Schedule III
  • Schedule IV
  • Schedule V

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Medical narcotics list drugs occupy all of the controlled substance groups except for schedule I. Drugs appearing in the schedule I category have no acceptable medicinal uses due to their highly addictive qualities and high potential for abuse. In effect, the only different between medical narcotics and schedule I drugs has to do with safety considerations in terms of abuse and addiction potential.

Medical Narcotics List Drug Schedules

Though medical narcotics list drugs do carry accepted medicinal uses, drug schedules II thru V are still grouped according to their potential for addiction and abuse. The schedule groupings represent a descending order of potential with schedule II drugs being the most addictive and schedule V being the least addictive.

Medical narcotics list drugs appearing in the schedule II group include:

  • Demerol
  • Fentanyl
  • Methadone
  • Pentobarbital
  • Ritalin

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Medical narcotics appearing under schedule III include:

  • Tylenol with codeine
  • Vicodin
  • Suboxone

Federal regulations place specific limits on ingredient amounts for schedule III drugs. For example, Vicodin medications must contain less than 15 milligrams of hydrocodone per dose.

Schedule IV narcotics include:

  • Xanax
  • Tranxene
  • Valium
  • Ativan

Schedule V medical narcotics list drugs consist mainly of cough suppressants, such as Robitussin AC and ezogabine. While only mildly addictive, these drugs do still contain specified amounts of codeine. As with schedule III drugs, specified dosage amounts apply for schedule V drugs.

List of Opioid Medications


While narcotic stimulants produce completely different effects than narcotic depressant drugs, all of the medical narcotics list drugs carry a risk for abuse and addiction when used for recreational purposes. As schedule II narcotics include the strongest medicinal drug types, it’s fairly easy to become addicted to these drugs; even in cases where a person takes them as prescribed. The addiction risk decreases accordingly with each successive schedule or group of drugs, though long term use (or misuse) of any schedule narcotic drug increases the risk for addiction.

If you need help overcoming an addiction to medical narcotics, call (800) 407-7195 now to speak with a caring treatment specialist.

the Take-Away

Organizing narcotics into lists and schedules helps the government better regulate their use. The medical narcotics list includes drugs that are recognized for their medical benefit but that still hold some addictive potential.