DEA Schedule III Substance

Ketamine is classified as a Schedule III controlled substance by the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) in the United States under the Controlled Substances Act. Schedule III substances are defined as drugs with a moderate to low potential for physical and psychological dependence and with an accepted medical use (DEA, n.d.).

The reasons for ketamine’s classification as a Schedule III substance include its medical utility, the potential for abuse, and the risk of dependence. Ketamine has a well-established role as an anesthetic agent in medical practice, particularly in veterinary medicine, emergency medicine, and pediatric anesthesia (Li & Vlisides, 2016). Its unique properties, such as rapid onset, minimal respiratory depression, and preservation of airway reflexes, make it a valuable anesthetic (Cohen & Trevor, 1974).

However, ketamine is also known for its potential for abuse and addiction due to its hallucinogenic and dissociative effects when used recreationally (Morgan et al., 2004). While the risk of dependence is lower compared to substances in Schedule I or II, such as opioids, there is still a risk for both physical and psychological dependence with repeated use (Jansen, 2000).

In summary, ketamine’s classification as a Schedule III controlled substance by the DEA reflects its balance between medical utility and the potential for abuse and dependence. Medical professionals must follow strict guidelines when prescribing and administering ketamine to minimize the risks associated with its use.

Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) (n.d.) Drug Scheduling. Retrieved from

Li L., Vlisides P. E. (2016) Ketamine: 50 Years of Modulating the Mind. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 10:612. doi:10.3389/fnhum.2016.00612

Cohen M. L., Trevor A. J. (1974) On the cerebral accumulation of ketamine and the relationship between metabolism of the drug and its pharmacological effects. Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics, 189(1):351-358.

Morgan C. J. A., Curran H. V., & Independent Scientific Committee on Drugs (2012) Ketamine use: a review. Addiction, 107(1):27-38. doi:10.1111/j.1360-0443.2011.03576.x

Jansen K. L. R. (2000) A Review of the Nonmedical Use of Ketamine: Use, Users, and Consequences. Journal of Psychoactive Drugs, 32(4):419-433. doi:10.1080/02791072.2000.10400244

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