Louisiana residents who are recovering from a serious injury or having trouble letting go of their anxieties may find themselves taking prescription medicines to ease their pain. But, they may not be aware that the medicines in their cabinets are considered controlled substances and it is illegal to possess them.

Firstly, what is a controlled substance? It’s an illegal drug that can have a detrimental effect on one’s health, which is why they are regulated both federally and at the state level. This means that if someone is found to be in possession of these substances, they could face lengthy prison sentences and excessive fines. The confusion comes from the fact that most of these same medications are prescribed by doctors and sold through pharmacies across the country for legitimate medical treatment.

Schedule I substances are perhaps the only type that have no medical use that is accepted and are wholly unsafe to use, such as heroin and LSD. Schedule II on the other hand, are highly addictive and have a high potential for abuse. Methamphetamines are examples of Schedule II substances, including morphine and Demerol. It may surprise readers to find that Tylenol with Codeine is considered a Schedule III drug-substances that have lower levels of dependence but can still be addictive. As the potential for abuse decreases, so the does the level; Schedule V substances are primarily those that contain low quantities of narcotics, such as cough syrups. The penalty for possessing controlled substances depends on the type of drug and the quantity possessed. Drug trafficking carries even more serious penalties.

If someone has a prescription for the drugs they are in possession of, it is probably not illegal since the controlled substances have been lawfully purchased. If someone is facing drug charges, such as possession or distribution charges, they may want to consider consulting an experienced attorney for guidance on how to best protect their rights.

Source: FindLaw, “What Is a Controlled Substance?,” accessed August 29, 2017