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Khat, also known as qat, is a stimulant drug that comes from the Catha edulis plant. It is commonly chewed or consumed as a tea in some parts of Africa, the Arabian Peninsula, and the Middle East. Khat contains several psychoactive compounds, including cathinone and cathine, which produce stimulating effects.

When khat leaves are chewed, the active compounds are released, resulting in effects such as increased energy, alertness, euphoria, and mild hallucinations. Users may experience a sense of heightened sociability and talkativeness. Some people use khat for its stimulant properties to stay awake and increase productivity.

However, khat use also carries potential risks and negative effects:

  1. Physical health effects: Chronic use of khat can lead to various physical health problems, including dental issues, oral infections, cardiovascular problems, gastrointestinal disturbances, and weight loss.
  2. Psychological effects: Regular and heavy khat use can contribute to psychological issues such as anxiety, irritability, insomnia, and mood swings.
  3. Addiction: Khat has addictive potential, and prolonged use can lead to dependence. Users may experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, such as depression, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating.
  4. Social and economic consequences: Khat use can impact users’ social and economic well-being, as excessive consumption can lead to financial strain and neglect of responsibilities.

It’s important to note that the legal status of khat varies across different countries and regions. In some places, it is regulated or illegal due to its stimulant and addictive properties. If you or someone you know is struggling with khat use or addiction, it is recommended to seek professional help and support from healthcare providers or addiction treatment services in your area. They can provide guidance, resources, and appropriate treatment options tailored to individual needs.

Khat (Quat, qat, qaadka, chat, Catha edulis) Khat is a green-leafed ‘stimulant’ shrub that has been chewed like tobacco for centuries by people who live in the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula. The fresh leaves, with red twigs, and shoots of the khat shrub are chewed, and then retained in the cheek and chewed intermittently to release the active drug. Once chewed, it produces an effect similar to (but usually less intense than) that of methamphetamine or Cocaine. Dried plant material can be made into tea or a chewable paste, but dried it is not as potent as the fresh plant product. Also it can also be smoked and even sprinkled on food.

It has recently turned up in Europe, including the UK, particularly among emigrants and refugees from countries such as Somalia, Ethiopia and the Yemen. It contains a number of chemicals among which are two controlled substances, cathinone and cathine. As the leaves mature or dry, Cathinone is converted to Cathine, which significantly reduces its stimulatory properties. Contact us for more information.

Negative effects of Khat

There are a number of negative physical effects that have been associated with heavy or long-term use of khat, including tooth decay and periodontal disease; gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation, ulcers, inflammation of the stomach, and increased risk of upper gastrointestinal tumours; and cardiovascular disorders such as irregular heartbeat, decreased blood flow, and myocardial infarction. Some of these effects in part may be linked to the chemical fertilisers used by the farmers and producers of it. There is also evidence between chronic use and mental disorders. Although there is no evidence that khat use causes mental illness, but rather exacerbates underlying psychiatric problems.

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Frequently asked questions

Q: What is Khat? A: Khat is a flowering plant native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. Its leaves contain a stimulant called cathinone, which produces a mild stimulant effect when chewed or consumed.

Q: How is Khat used? A: Khat leaves are typically chewed or brewed into a tea for their stimulant effects. The active ingredient, cathinone, is absorbed through the oral mucosa when chewed.

Q: What are the effects of Khat use? A: Khat use can produce a range of effects, including increased energy, alertness, euphoria, and sociability. Users may experience improved mood, increased talkativeness, and a sense of excitement. However, it can also lead to restlessness, irritability, anxiety, insomnia, and increased heart rate and blood pressure.

Q: Is Khat use addictive? A: Yes, Khat use can be addictive. Frequent and prolonged use can lead to psychological dependence and cravings for the drug. Users may also experience withdrawal symptoms when attempting to quit, including fatigue, depression, irritability, and difficulty concentrating.

Q: Are there any health risks associated with Khat use? A: Prolonged and excessive Khat use can lead to various health risks. These may include dental problems, gastrointestinal issues, cardiovascular complications, mental health problems (such as anxiety and psychosis), and social and occupational problems.

Q: Is Khat use legal? A: The legal status of Khat varies across countries. In some countries, such as Ethiopia and Somalia, Khat is legal and culturally accepted. In others, such as the United States and most European countries, Khat is classified as a controlled substance and its possession, sale, and use are illegal.

Q: Are there treatment options available for Khat addiction? A: Yes, treatment options are available for individuals struggling with Khat addiction. These may include counselling, behavioural therapies, support groups, and in some cases, medication-assisted treatment. It is important to seek professional help for a comprehensive assessment and appropriate treatment plan.

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