Khat is a flowering evergreen shrub that has two active ingredients, cathine and cathinone, which when ingested cause a stimulant-like effect. The chemicals found in khat are controlled under the Controlled Substances Act. Cathine is categorized as a Schedule IV stimulant while cathinone is labeled a Schedule I stimulant. This means that cathinone has a high potential for abuse, no currently accepted medicinal use in the United States and a lack of accepted safety for use under medical supervision. Khat is found in East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula, where its use is part of established cultural traditions for many social gatherings.
The leaves, twigs and shoots of the Khat shrub are sold and used by individuals to get high. It is typically chewed like tobacco; retained in the cheek and chewed intermittently to release the active drugs that produce a stimulant-like effect. The dried Khat leaves can be made into tea or a chewable paste. Individuals can also smoke khat or sprinkle it on food.
Once ingested, Khat causes an immediate increase in blood pressure and heart rate. Psychologically it can induce manic behavior with grandiose delusions, paranoia, nightmares, hallucinations and hyperactivity. Physically khat abuse has been known to cause a brown staining of the teeth, insomnia and gastric disorders. Chronic Khat abuse can result in violence, suicidal depression and physical exhaustion.
The amount needed to constitute an overdose is not readily known. Historically overdose has been associated with those who have been long-term chewers of the leaves. Symptoms of overdose include delusions, loss of appetite, difficulty breathing, and increases in both blood pressure and heart rate. There are also reports of liver damage (chemical hepatitis) and cardiac complications, specifically myocardial infarctions. These symptoms usually occur among long-term chewers of khat or those who have chewed too large a dose.
Street names of khat include: Abyssinian Tea, African Salad, Catha, Chat, Kat and Oat. Drugs that have similar effects include: cocaine and methamphetamine.
If you or someone you love has a problem with Khat, call our professionals at Sobriety Resources (855)289-2640 today to experience the freedom of sobriety.