Effects of Khat

khat plantation in Yeman

Khat is a plant that grows mostly in Yemen, Ethiopia and Somalia—the “Horn of Africa.” It can also be found in South Africa, Sudan, Kenya, Afghanistan and Madagascar. Just a few years ago, the only people in the Western Hemisphere who had heard of khat were some immigrants from Eastern Africa. A major reason for this limited distribution is that khat loses some of its potency within 48 hours.

ship transporting goods

But in the last few years, transportation methods have improved in the source countries, and shippers package the plant material carefully to keep it moist, reducing some of the loss of potency. It has since become available to more locations and now is much better known around the world.

Shipments of khat often leave Eastern Africa and arrive in the UK, with a portion of the shipment destined for North America. Seizures have sometimes been made of crates of khat on their way to large North American cities with substantial Eastern Africa immigrant populations, such as Toronto, Washington DC and San Diego.

In source countries like Ethiopia and Somalia and neighboring country Djibouti, the drug is legal and in accepted use in social situations. These populations tend to bring the use of the drug with them when they emigrate to countries where it is not legal or where it becomes illegal after increasing amounts of the drug are sold and consumed. Khat is illegal in the US and most of Europe.

Khat was only made illegal in the UK in July 2013. When it became illegal, there were 3,000 tons of the drug passing through the country’s airports each year.

Euphoriant an Intoxicant

In Eastern Africa and the surrounding region, khat use can be found in Kenya, Yemen, Uganda, Ethiopia, and Madagascar. In Yemen, the drug is used by an overwhelming number of the population. About 90% of the men and one-quarter of the women use the drug, often throughout the day. But it is an expensive habit and one that has addictive qualities.

Another report said that 75% of Somali men and less than 10% of Somali women use the drug.

Khat Effects

The effects of khat include:

  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased alertness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Sense of well-being
  • Reduction of boredom

Some people can develop a hyperactive mania after continuous use, or manifest aggression or even a short-lived psychotic episode. It is difficult for most people to consume enough of the drug to develop these more severe symptoms.

A couple of hours after use, a person can begin to experience:

  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Sluggishness
  • Emotional instability
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Restlessness

Withdrawal Effects of Khat

When a person stops using the drug, he can experience with following withdrawal effects:

  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Sedation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lassitude
  • Trembling
  • Brief hallucinations that occur as a person is going to sleep or waking up

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

Addiction Doesn’t Always Involve an Illegal Drug

There are plenty of people who are addicted to substances that can be purchased legally. Alcohol, for example, is legal for an adult to purchase. A person abusing inhalants can become addicted to common household chemicals. And in other cases, it takes time for a drug to be outlawed in a state or country, once its dangerous properties are recognized. Therefore, khat use in a country in which it is not illegal can still be damaging to the individual who can’t stop using it despite harm being done to his life, relationships or future.

Even if khat is used in accepted social situations, if a person stops being able to be successful in life, if he neglects goals that are important to him or stops caring for responsibilities that he once held dear, such as his career or family, then the chances are very good that this person needs help to leave khat abuse behind.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can help a person addicted to khat, just like it helps an alcohol or heroin addict. The drug does not matter, because the pattern of addiction is very similar from one person to the next. The generally ten to twelve week Narconon rehab program has an excellent record of helping those addicted to any substances find lasting sobriety and a return of interest in those things that really matter to him or her.

See also: Signs and Symptoms of Khat Abuse


More references:

NARCONON ZUTPHEN

DRUGSVOORLICHTING EN REHABILITATIE