Khat

Know the facts about khat and connect with help and support to keep your child safe.

What are some slang terms?
Abyssinian Tea, African Salad, Catha, Chat, Kat, Oat

What is it?
Khat is a stimulant made up of fresh leaves of the Catha edulis shrub found in East Africa and southern Arabia. It contains a number of chemicals, among which are two controlled substances, cathinone and cathine. Methcathinone, a synthetic substance with a similar chemical structure to the cathinone in the khat plant (commonly called ‘cat’) is occasionally confused with khat.

What does it look like?
Khat looks like green and leafy shredded tobacco, and could be mistaken for marijuana or salvia divinorum.

How is it used?
Khat is typically chewed like tobacco — retained in the cheek and chewed intermittently to release the active drug — and can also be smoked.

What do young people hear about it?
Teens and young adults may be attracted to khat as ‘natural’ way to produce a mild euphoric ‘high,’ as well as to produce stimulating effects.

What are the risks?
Using khat can cause mild to moderate psychological dependence. Compulsive use of khat may result in manic behavior with grandiose delusions or in a paranoid type of illness, sometimes accompanied by hallucinations. Khat use may also lead to tooth decay and gum disease, gastrointestinal disorders such as constipation and ulcers, irregular heartbeat and heart attack.

What are signs of use?

  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)

Next Steps