Also Known As: Quat, Qat, Qaadka, Chat
Khat is a plant containing two main stimulants which speed up your mind and body. The main effects are similar to, but less powerful than, amphetamine (speed). Khat is used mostly in Africa, but it is becoming more common in Europe.
A small bunch of its leaves are ‘balled up’ and chewed over a number of hours.
Khat is a stimulant and chewing it can:
- Make people more alert and talkative
- Produce feelings of elation
- Suppress the appetite
- Produce a feeling of calm if it’s chewed over a few hours, with some describing it as being ‘blissed out’
- Lead to periods of insomnia.
The risks of using Khat include:
- It can increase feelings of anxiety and aggression
- Some users find it makes them very irritable, in some cases extremely angry and even violent.
- Frequent users may develop insomnia, heart problems and sexual problems like impotence.
- You may develop insomnia and short-lived states of confusion.
- You can get high blood pressure, heart palpitations and heart problems with heavy use.
- As khat can cause periods of increased libido, care may be needed to minimise the risk of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies.
- Khat can inflame the mouth and damage the teeth. It can also reduce appetite and cause constipation, and there is concern about a longer-term risk of development of mouth cancers.
- It can give you feelings of anxiety and aggression.
- It can make pre-existing mental health problems worse and can cause paranoid and psychotic reactions (which may be associated with irritability, anxiety and losing touch with reality).
- There is a small risk of significant liver disease, which has the potential to be life threatening.
Khat can make a user psychologically dependent (with craving and a desire to keep using in spite of potential harm). When some users stop using they can feel lethargic or mildly depressed and may have a withdrawal period with fine tremors and nightmares.
The UK Government has decided to make Khat an illegal Class C drug. The ban on Khat will come into effect on 24 June 2014.
From 24 June 2014, anyone caught producing, possessing, supplying, importing or exporting Khat will be liable to arrest and will be reported to the Procurator Fiscal, risking prosecution for Class C drug offences.
Simple possession of Khat may attract sanctions of up to 2 years in prison and/or an unlimited fine on indictment (up to 3 months in prison and/or a £1,000 fine on summary conviction).
Khat is an illegal substance in many other countries like the US and taking khat into the US could attract a heavy prison sentence.