What is khat?
Khat is a stimulant drug, which means it speeds up the messages going between the brain and the body. The drug is the leaves and buds of the khat plant (Catha edulis Forsk). The leaves may be used fresh or dried.
qat, kat or chat
What does it look like?
The leaves and buds of the khat plant. The leafy green shrub that can grow to tree size.
How is it used?
• Fresh leaves and buds are chewed
• Dried khat is chewed, taken as tea or smoked
The chewing of khat leaves is common in some countries of east Africa and the Arabian Peninsula. It has a deep-rooted social and cultural tradition in some Muslim, Somali and Yemeni cultures. In some Muslim countries in which alcohol is prohibited, khat is commonly used in social situations, although it is often condemned on religious grounds.
Effects of khat
There is no safe level of drug use. Use of any drug always carries some risk. It’s important to be careful when taking any type of drug. Khat affects everyone differently, based on:
• Size, weight and health
• Whether the person is used to taking it
• Whether other drugs are taken around the same time
• The amount taken
• The strength of the drug (varies from batch to batch)
The following effects may be experienced immediately:
• Fast heartbeat and breathing
• High temperature and blood pressure
• Talking more and feeling energetic
• Reduced appetite
Regular use of khat may eventually cause:
• Worsening of existing mental health problems
• Sleep problems
• Digestive problems, such as constipation
• Sore, inflamed mouth
• Mouth cancer
• Needing to use more to get the same effect
• Dependence on khat
• Financial, work and social problems