Because of their potential for abuse, controlled substances have specific regulatory requirements for their acquisition, storage, security, use, and disposal.

Controlled substances are any drugs or chemical substances whose possession and use are regulated under the United States Controlled Substances Act, or the North Carolina Controlled Substances Act. The U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) administers the federal law, and the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), Drug Control Unit administers the state law. Controlled substances have stimulant, depressant, or hallucinogenic effects on the higher functions of the central nervous system, and tend to promote abuse or physiological/psychological dependence.