Khat Addiction: Learn About the Myths, Effects and Recovery Options

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People seem to quickly become obsessed when they find a stimulant drug they like; especially in the United States. Khat addiction has grown in recent years, and those who use it often view it as similar to caffeine. But it can actually be much more dangerous.

A person who gets addicted to khat should consider getting professional treatment. Even though this is a milder stimulant than others in this category, it can be a hard drug to stop on one’s own. Fortunately, there is help available for both the physical and psychological aspects of the addiction.

We want to help by informing people about the dangers of using khat; particularly on a regular basis. This drug can have some serious effects and people need to be made aware of them. They also need to know that beating this addiction is not something they will have to do on their own. Rehab can make a big difference and the right support can help them be successful.

What is Khat?

Khat is the name of a drug that is found in the leaves of the Catha edulis shrub, which is found in East Africa. This plant contains a stimulant called cathinone, which is a central nervous system stimulant. It also contains cathine, which is a psychoactive drug that acts as a stimulant.

Khat can be purchased in a few different ways. Some people get it by ordering on the dark web. Others may find it on the streets from dealers who sell drugs that are not quite as common in the U.S.

On the street, Khat can be sold under several street names:

  • Abyssinian Tea
  • African Salad
  • Catha
  • Chat
  • Kat
  • Miraa
  • Oat
  • Qat
  • Quaadka

Is Khat Legal in the United States?

Khat has no accepted or practical medical use in the United States. Its two ingredients, cathinone and cathine are Schedule I and Schedule IV drugs respectively.

All Schedule I drugs under the Controlled Substances Act have a high potential for abuse and no current accepted medical use. Schedule IV drugs have lower potential for abuse compared to those that are in Schedule III. But they can lead to limited physical or psychological dependence.

What is the History of Khat Use?

Khat is a drug that has been abused for a very long time. Historical evidence suggests that it existed in 13th century Ethiopia (Abyssinia). The drug was brought to Yemen in the early 15th century. It has been around longer than coffee.

In the Yemeni culture, Khat has been used for various social events, and it still is today. As many as 90% of adult males chew khat for as long as four hours every day. Females use the drug less often, but about half of them claim to have a habit of using it. As many as 20% of children under the age of 12 also consume the drug on a daily basis.

Common Myths People Believe About Khat

About 20 million people use Khat all over the world, and it is a drug that has cultural significance in many countries and cultures. People who abuse this drug often feel that it has been misrepresented in the media to be dangerous.

Many people view Khat as a type of food and not a drug, similar to the way they think of coffee. While it might be a mild stimulant, it does have some side effects that are concerning.

The World Health Organization has stated that khat produces a mild high that is similar to drinking a strong cup of coffee. They do not consider it to be a seriously addictive drug, but consuming it can have consequences; especially psychological ones.

Common Side Effects of Abusing Khat

Most experts consider khat to be a low-risk drug, but it is associated with a number of potentially harmful side effects. Some of the side effects of this drug include:

  • Constipation
  • Impotence
  • Blurred vision
  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Weight loss

Possible Complications

Khat users put themselves at risk for experiencing complications as a result of abusing this drug. People who chew khat leaves are at risk for dental diseases because of the impact of the drug on their teeth and gums. This could be partially due to the pesticides that are sprayed on the leaves. Some cultures believe that washing the leaves before use will reduce their potency, so they are continually exposing themselves to those chemicals.

There are also mental health issues that can arise in people who regularly use khat. Psychosis, depression, mood swings and even violent behaviors have all been reported.

Signs of Khat Abuse

Sometimes people get concerned that someone they love might be abusing drugs like khat. There are several signs that could indicate that a person has started using this drug, and they include:

  • Experiencing changes in their sleep habits.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Symptoms of depression.
  • Decreased appetite.
  • Weight loss.
  • Irritability and anger.
  • Hyperactivity and excitability.

How do People Get Addicted to Khat?

Even though khat addiction is not as common as other types of stimulant addictions, people do form them. It is possible to get addicted to this drug with continued use of it, and that is how people get dependent on it physically and psychologically.

Over time, and with continued abuse, people who use khat will find that they feel as though they have to use it. They may start to have cravings for it if it has been too long since their last dose. Once they find that they need to use more of it in order to get the same effects, it is safe to say that they are addicted.

Signs of Addiction

There are some signs people can look for in their own lives or in others to determine if they are addicted to khat. The most common signs of addiction include:

  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms when the drug leaves their system.
  • Continuing to use even though they are experiencing health issues as a result.
  • Having trouble sleeping at night.
  • Changes in appearance, such as becoming more haggard and disheveled.
  • Denial that they have a problem with addiction.
  • Leaving behind activities they once enjoyed in favor of spending that time using instead.
  • Using in secrecy.
  • Consuming unsafe amounts of the drug at times.
  • Using the drug as a way to cope with their personal problems.
  • Taking dangerous risks in order to obtain the drug or use it.

Getting Treatment for Khat Addiction: Is it Always Necessary?

Because khat is considered to be a mild stimulant, it may not be necessary for everyone to get treatment in order to recover. But once an addiction has formed, people may not be able to get off this substance without some type of professional support.

It can be incredibly hard to stop using a drug like khat without some type of help. Experts recommend people get assistance from a group of their peers and from professionals in order to be successful in recovery.

Coping with Khat Withdrawal Symptoms

Khat does have some addictive properties, which is why stopping its use can lead to withdrawal symptoms. Some of the more common symptoms of khat withdrawal include:

  • Intense cravings for the drug.
  • Slight tremors in the hands, tongue, or even the entire body.
  • Depressed mood.
  • An increase in body temperature or just feeling hotter than normal.
  • An increased appetite.
  • Feeling fatigued and sleeping too much.
  • Painful headaches.

These and other withdrawal symptoms can make it much more difficult for people to recover. In fact, most people would rather relapse than experience their discomfort.

Even so, a period of drug detox may not be necessary for people who are addicted to khat. Their withdrawal symptoms may be well-managed during rehab using more holistic methods of treatment. But if a person is also using other drugs in addition to this one, they may need to go through the detoxification process prior to rehab.

Drug Rehab for Khat Addiction

We highly recommend for anyone who is addicted to khat to go through drug rehab for recovery. This will help them avoid a relapse and it will allow them to focus on their goal of getting clean in a safe environment.

The goal of drug rehabilitation is to address the reasons behind a person’s addiction. This is an important process that should never be skipped or ignored. During rehab, clients participate in various types of therapy to help with their underlying issues. Both individual and group therapy are a critical part of the recovery process during rehab.

In the United States, people who use khat often start because of the novelty of using a relatively unknown drug. They may be interested in its stimulant effects because they do not like coffee or over the counter stimulants. But eventually, that curiosity can turn into dependence and addiction. Some people will use this drug because they have a mental health issue that is undiagnosed and untreated. This is called having a co-occurring disorder.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, about 50% of people with addictions have co-occurring disorders. A person who is addicted to khat could be using this drug as a way to self-medicate away the symptoms of their mental health problems. Fortunately, mental health issues can be addressed at the same time as addiction with dual diagnosis treatment.

SpringBoard Recovery Offers Treatment for Khat Addiction

At SpringBoard Recovery, we understand how easy it is to get addicted to drugs like khat. Substances like this one appear to be benign because they are used by so many different cultures. People may view it as more of a supplement and not as a drug. But that does not mean they cannot form addictions to it.

For clients who come to us for treatment, we always carefully assess them to determine what they need on a personal basis. Every addiction is different, and we want to make sure our clients receive personalized and targeted services. If drug detox is deemed necessary, we will offer a detox referral. If not, the client can begin rehab right away.

We offer one of the best outpatient drug rehab programs in Arizona. We specialize in intensive outpatient treatment, and our IOP offers a high level of support, which is needed for recovery to be successful. This program is really flexible, and it can fit into most people’s schedules easily. It meets during the evening hours, which leaves the daytime free for work, school and other responsibilities.

Many of the people we work with have home situations that may not be conducive for recovery. They may live with an abusive partner or with roommates who also use khat or other drugs and alcohol. In cases like these, we highly recommend our sober living services.

Sober living homes provide a safe, healthy environment for people to live in while they receive addiction treatment. We have many residents who came to us from local communities in Arizona. But we also have residents who wanted to travel here for rehab. They are more than welcome to stay in our sober living home while they get the treatment they need.

Learn More About Khat Addiction and Drug Rehab for Recovery

Khat may not be the most dangerous drug on the market, but it is certainly one that people should be concerned about. This is especially true if people are taking it in combination with other drugs, alcohol, or even coffee. People need to know that the help they need to get off this drug is available to them.

At SpringBoard Recovery, we offer people the opportunity to get professional help for khat addiction. Our caring and dedicated staff is here to provide the necessary support. If you have been putting off going to rehab because you were unsure about if it would work, we want to encourage you to consider it.

Would you like more information about khat addiction or getting treatment? We can help you. Please contact us today.

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