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Khat Abuse: Are We Right to be Concerned?

Khat abuse seems to be on the rise in the United States.

It's as though there are new drugs of abuse available as the years go by. This is one we may be hearing more about in the months to come, and yes. We are right to be concerned.

Some common street names for Khat include: Chat, Cat (or Kat), Oat, Cathine, Qat, Abyssinian Tea, Kat, African Salad, and Tohai. No matter what you call it, it's a dangerous drug that's perceived by many to be safe. If you're currently abusing it, you need as much information as you can find. If you've become addicted to it, you need to know how to stop using it.

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Why Do People Use the Khat Drug?

According to WebMD, Khat is a plant that can be used both medicinally and recreationally.

For medical purposes, it can be used to treat several conditions, such as:

  • Depression
  • Obesity
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Fatigue
  • Infertility in men

Recreationally, people in East Africa and other countries use it to improve their moods. It has a euphoric effect, and people will commonly chew the leaves and stem. Research has shown that it contains stimulants that are close to amphetamines.

Is Cathine Legal in the United States?

In 1980, Cathine was declared to be a drug of abuse by the World Health Organization. It is a drug that has increased in popularity all over the world. However, it is illegal in many countries. In 1993, the DEA categorized it as a Schedule I substance. Because of its stimulant effects, Khat was effectively banned in the United States. Even so, that has not stopped people from sending shipments of it overseas to the U.S.

What is the Qat High Like?

Getting high on Qat makes people feel happy, talkative and alert. It works as an appetite suppressant, which is a benefit for many people. However, those who have used other stimulants before might be disappointed in this one. Some people report its effects as being rather mild, and less euphoric than they had hoped.

Khat Addiction

The Advantages of Chewing Khat

People typically use drugs for their advantages, and this one is no different. Someone who wants to lose weight might find this one beneficial. Also, it may be attractive to college students who often will use stimulants to stay up late and study. People who tend to be more introverted may find that Khat helps them be more social.

The Disadvantages of Using This Drug

This drug has many disadvantages. It can make it very difficult for users to get to sleep. It can also lead to a mental addiction if it is abused long enough. If a user suffers from a mental health issue, this drug can make that problem much worse.

The Dangers of Khat Abuse

When it comes to drugs like this one, people tend to think they're safe because they're plants. This could not be further from the truth. Khat is a toxic drug, and when it has been used long enough, its side effects can lead to serious problems.

In the short-term, Khat can cause:

  • Insomnia and other sleep disturbances
  • Irritability and anger
  • A mild excitement and feelings of euphoria
  • Problems with breathing
  • Physical fatigue
  • Chronic constipation
  • Hallucinations
  • Manic behaviors
  • An elevated heart rate

When this drug is used long-term, its effects become more dangerous. Long-term Khat users may find that they experience:

  • Anorexia, or other eating disorders
  • Stomach problems or disorders
  • Digestive problems
  • Symptoms of depression
  • A high risk for heart disease
  • Decaying teeth and possible gum disease
  • A high risk for cancer of the mouth
  • Liver damage
  • Dangerous heart complications

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Can Abusing Tohai Lead to an Addiction Eventually?

First and foremost, it's important to understand the difference between abuse and addiction. Tohai abuse is quite common, while Khat addiction is less common. Even one use of the Kat drug is considered to be abuse. This is because it's illegal. Continually abusing Khat is likely to lead to an addiction.

Researchers have shown that it's not possible to form a physical addiction to this drug. However, it is possible to become psychologically addicted to Khat. This is what happens when it is abused over and over again.

Signs You May be Addicted to Kat

Maybe you've been using Cat because you believed it was a safe drug for you to use. You may have gotten addicted to it without realizing it. However, you're not sure, and you need to know what the symptoms of cat addiction are.

Interestingly enough, the signs of Khat addiction are similar to what is experienced with cocaine or methamphetamines. They include:

  • A sensation of paranoia
  • A heightened sense of being alert
  • Feeling restless
  • Problems standing still
  • Feeling nervous or anxious
  • Extreme talkativeness

Taking a quiz can also help you identify if you have an addiction to this drug. This addiction quiz is an excellent way for you to assess yourself. Once you answer all the questions, you'll be directed to your results right away.

Cathine Facts and Statistics You Probably Weren't Aware Of

Even if you have been using Cathine for quite some time, there is probably a lot you don't know.

The Department of Justice tells us that:

  • This plant has been used since the 13th century as a recreational drug.
  • Individuals can chew the leaves, use the Khat powder, or create a tea from the plant and drink it.
  • It is also possible to smoke the leaves or sprinkle the powder on food.
  • The euphoria this drug produces is similar to cocaine, meth and other stimulant drugs.
  • The effects of Cathine, no matter how it is used, are felt immediately.
  • The euphoric sensations can last between 90 minutes and 3 hours.
  • In the United States immigrants from countries where this drug is popular are more likely to use it.

Furthermore, the Global Information Network About Drugs (GINAD) tells us that:

  • Cathine is less addictive than alcohol, tobacco and steroids.
  • Even so, it is still possible to become dependent on it.
  • It takes as long as 8 years for the Khat plant to grow, but it can be harvested several times a year.
  • Men are more likely to smoke this drug than women.
  • As many as 10 million people all over the world use it on a daily basis.
  • In Yemen, where the drug is most popular, 82% of men have reported trying it.
  • In fact, 17% of a Yemini family's income is spent on this plant.
  • Kenya reports having a high prevalence of Khat abuse, with about 20% of its people using it regularly.

Quitting this Drug on Your Own

It's common for people to assume that they can quit using Kat on their own. The presumed safety and non-addictive nature of this drug leads to that assumption. However, that doesn't mean that quitting Kat is going to be easy. Most likely, it's going to be difficult, and it carries a lot of risks.

Cold turkey quitting is typical, and it's no different for Kat users. No matter what the drug is, this quitting method is never recommended. It can lead to potentially dangerous withdrawal symptoms, and relapses are very common. Fortunately, a relapse can be prevented when obtaining professional treatment instead.

The dangerous nature of quitting Khat abruptly lies in the severity of withdrawal and the risk of overdosing. If you're thinking about quitting this drug on your own, you need to be aware of what to expect.

People often assume that because this plant is not physically addictive, there's no need to be concerned about withdrawal. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Khat withdrawal is very real, and it produces both physical and psychological symptoms. These include:

  • Having trouble sleeping
  • Problems with focusing
  • Becoming very depressed; possibly to the extent of suicidal thoughts
  • Becoming irritable and angry
  • Having cravings for Kat
  • Anxiety and possible panic attacks
  • Extreme fatigue

It is also possible to experience hallucinations when coming off of this drug. As you can see, it's not as safe as it's made out to be. Stopping it should only be done under the care of qualified professionals.

When people attempt to quit using this drug, they are likely to relapse. It is at that point when an overdose is most likely. Overdoses usually happen because the body quickly adjusts its tolerance levels after a drug is stopped. The user doesn't realize this has occurred.

When a relapse takes place, the usual dosage of the Khat drug is taken. The body is not able to handle such a high dose. At that point, an overdose, or Khat poisoning has occurred.

Symptoms of Overdose to Watch For

The symptoms of an overdose can be quite severe. If an overdose occurs, getting immediate medical help is vital. You could experience:

  • A very rapid heart rate
  • Extremely high blood pressure
  • Heart palpitations
  • Flushing
  • A high fever

Medical personnel may be able to reverse an overdose if one occurs. At the very least, she should be able to administer medications and other treatments to help with symptoms.

  • Being able to discuss the source of your addiction with a qualified addiction therapist
  • Getting treatment for any co-occurring disorders you may be suffering from.
  • Having the opportunity to talk with other addicts and share experiences with them.
  • Gaining the coping skills you'll need to avoid a relapse and a possible overdose.
  • Getting help for your physical and psychological withdrawal symptoms.
  • How to Detox from the Cat Drug

    There are several different ways that you can detox from Cat. You can choose to try an at-home detox, or to go through a professional detox center instead.

    An at-home detox has its risks, but if you're careful, it may be successful for you. You should take care to get all of the supplies you will need prior to starting the detox. It may help you to take the following steps:

    • Talk with a doctor about your intentions to detox from Khat at home.
    • Get over the counter medications, or even prescribed medications to help with your symptoms.
    • Get a trusted friend or relative to stay with you during the withdrawal period.
    • Make sure you have plenty of fluids and healthy food on hand to nourish your body.
    • Make sure you have a comfortable place to sleep and relax during this time.

    This can be done in a few different ways. You may go through a medical detox, or a holistic detox. Medical detox will allow you to take medications during the withdrawal period. Holistic detox relies more on natural methods to remove toxins from your body.

    No matter which type of drug detox you choose, this should be the first step you take. Those who opt for detoxification have been shown to be more successful in the long-term than those who don't.

    Finding the Right Khat Addiction Recovery Program for You

    If you have been using this drug for any period of time, you may be addicted to it. You may have heard that addiction wasn't possible, but that's just not true. Psychological addictions can be extremely powerful. You need to know the seriousness of this situation.

    Here at Ashwood Recovery, we understand what you're going through. We know how hard it is to come to terms with the fact that you have an addiction. We're also fully equipped to get you the type of treatment you need. There's no reason for you to put off getting the help you require to stop using this drug.

    Do you need to know more about Khat abuse and addiction? Maybe you have additional questions you'd like to have answered. If so, we can help. Please contact us right away.

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