What are controlled substances and how do they differ from prescription only items?
Controlled substances are in a "higher" bracket than prescription only substances. As
such, they are usually governed by a different government body. For example in the USA the
Drug Enforcement Agency
(DEA) is responsible for controlled drugs rather than just the Food and Drug
Different countries place different emphasis on different products, apart from the obvious
narcotics and additive substances (such as amphetamines and barbiturates etc.), many
countries consider products such as pain killers, steroids and even weight loss drugs as
controlled substances, believing that they are also addictive substances.
There are usually 5-classes of control, class 1 being highly addictive and no-medical use,
these substances usually cannot be even prescribed by a DEA registered physician. Class 2
and 3 are still very-high categories but can be prescribed because they are recognized as
having a medical use. Lower classes 4 and 5 are usually more "lenient" because they are
considered to have a much smaller risk of abuse but they still require special paperwork
and a prescription from a DEA registered physician.
When substances are controlled in the supplying country and the receiving country, export
and import paperwork is required, which obviously immediately alerts customs to these
facts. Dealing with 1st world-countries for these products has many stipulations
(supervised by the United Nations) which would obviously mean inherent "risks" for you
should you not meet all the regulatory requirements.