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Drug Classifications

You may have heard drugs being described as being class A, B or C. But do you know what this means? Understanding what drug classifications are and why they are used is an important step towards staying clean. Drug classifications were defined in the Misuse of Drugs Act of 1971. This act covers offenses such as the possession and supply of controlled substances. It also placed controlled substances into one of 3 categories, depending on their potential harm to either the individual or to society. Which category a drug belongs to can change over the years as new research becomes available.

Class C drugs

These are considered to be the least dangerous of the controlled substances. They include:

  • Prescription painkillers
  • GHB
  • Ketamine
  • Anabolic steroids

Class B drugs

These drugs include:

  • Cannabis
  • Amphetamines
  • Codeine
  • mephedrone

Class A drugs

These are considered to be the most dangerous substances available and include:

  • Heroin
  • Cocaine (including crack)
  • MDMA (ecstacy)
  • Methamphetamine (crystal meth)
  • LSD
  • Magic Mushrooms

Some drugs which are on the controlled list are useful in certain situations, so can only be used under licence. There are other dangerous substances which are not on the controlled list, such as tobacco and alcohol. This does not mean that they are not harmful to your health. There are also some "legal highs", which have been artificially developed to mimic the effects of drugs. Many of the short and long term effects of these drugs are still unknown and they are potentially very dangerous. Read our legal highs page for more information.

For a full list of drug classifications, click here.

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