Khat

Know the facts about khat and connect with help and support to keep your son or daughter safe.

What is khat?
It 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.

Signs of Use:
  • Depressed mood
  • Irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
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What are some slang terms for khat?
Abyssinian Tea, African Salad, Catha, Chat, Kat, Oat

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

How is khat used?
It 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 khat?
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 of using khat?
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.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA); Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA)
Reviewed & Updated: August 17, 2018

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