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Is Khat Addictive?

The substances most commonly abused in the United States, such as alcohol and opioids, are undoubtedly addictive. The more they are abused, the greater the user’s tolerance becomes, requiring them to increase the amount of mind-altering substances they consume. Eventually, their bodies grow dependent on their substance of choice and without using regularly, a series of painful withdrawal symptoms can develop. But what about other, lesser-known drugs like khat? Is khat addictive in the same ways that more well-known substances are? 

What is Khat?

Before diving into the addiction potential of khat, it is important to understand more about this specific type of naturally-occurring substance. 

Khat is a shrub that is native to East Africa and the Arabian Peninsula and has been used in those areas for centuries. Today, it continues to grow in these areas, providing supply for those who use it locally and for those involved in the illegal distribution of it. It is also heavily trafficked to other areas of the world, including the United States. 

Khat contains two naturally-occurring stimulants — cathine and cathinone. Chewing on the leaves can release these substances, producing a stimulating high. Common street names for khat include African Salad, Abyssinian Tea, and Oat. Given that this plant is capable of getting users high, one might beg the question, “is khat addictive”? 

Is Khat Addictive? 

Khat is an addictive substance. Because of the mind-altering effects it produces, it can be easy for an individual to continually abuse it to get the stimulant effect they are looking for. What may begin as experimentation can quickly become abuse, which requires individuals to continually increase the amount of khat they are consuming. As time passes and abuse continues, they can find that they develop withdrawal symptoms if they suddenly stop their khat abuse. Like most other addictive substances, those who abuse khat can become addicted to it, meaning that they:

  • Continue using khat despite the consequences that develop as a result of that use
  • Feel like they cannot function without using khat
  • Spend a great deal of time acquiring, using, and recovering from khat 
  • Experiencing financial problems due to funding their khat use
  • Suffering personal and professional problems because of their consistent use of khat

Getting someone to stop abusing khat when they are addicted to it can be just as difficult as getting someone to stop more high-profile drug abuse. 

What are the Symptoms of Khat Abuse?

Anytime anyone is abusing a drug that impacts their mind and body, they are likely going to experience symptoms that are not favorable. The same goes for khat. The more that it is abused, the more symptoms are likely to develop both in number and in intensity.

Some of the most common symptoms of khat abuse include:

  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Irritable mood
  • Lack of appetite
  • High blood pressure
  • Hyperactivity

These symptoms can quickly aid in the development of further issues for a khat user, including depression and other mood disorders, sleep problems like insomnia, and cardiovascular complications. 

What are the Effects of Khat Abuse? 

While khat is classified as a stimulant, it is a mild stimulant. Because of its mildness, many people do not believe that there are any real risks associated with abusing it. However, regularly chewing on khat can lead to a number of dangerous effects, including but not limited to, the following:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Dental disease
  • Impotence
  • Weight loss
  • Blurred vision
  • Hemorrhoids 

Khat abuse can also lead to psychosis, depression, violent behavior, and mood swings. Additionally, most khat users do not wash the leaves prior to chewing them, meaning that pesticides can still be present on the leaves and cause further health problems. 

Khat Withdrawal Symptoms

Because khat is addictive, a number of withdrawal symptoms can develop when a person suddenly stops their khat abuse. While khat withdrawal is relatively mild, it can still be a challenge for those wanting to get sober. 

The severity of khat withdrawal will be reflective of the severity of the khat addiction. But, as just mentioned, most withdrawals are mild. During this time, individuals tend to experience headaches and cravings. It is also possible for the following symptoms to occur:

  • Hot flashes
  • Fatigue
  • Tremors
  • Mood changes
  • Depression
  • Sleeping to excess

Although khat withdrawal is typically mild, it is always a wise choice to go through the withdrawal process in the care of medical and mental health professionals. Those who desire to put an end to their active khat addiction can do so with the help of these and other professionals. 

If You Are Still Questiong Is Khat Addivtive? Get Treatment Options In Knoxville, TN

We understand how painful addiction of any kind can be. We also understand that khat is not a widely known drug here in the United States, making it harder to find the appropriate care. At Tennessee Valley Recovery, we offer several treatment options to help you not only detox from khat safely but also address the underlying causes of your khat addiction.

So, now that you know the answer to, “is khat addictive?”, getting help is your main priority. Reach out to us right now and get connected with a compassionate, skilled admissions specialist.