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The drug addiction Newsletter is published periodically, and provides up-to-date information concerning advancements in the treatment of drug addiction, as well as drug addiction trends.
Facts About the Most Used and Abused Drugs from Alcohol to Ecstasy:
A Khat Factsheet: Centuries-Old Middle-Eastern Drug Growing in PopularityBy Hugh C. McBride
A plant that has been used as a stimulant for centuries in Eastern Africa and the Arabian Peninsula may be gaining a foothold among drug users in the United States.
Khat (pronounced "Cot"), which is native to the region around Ethiopia, Somalia, and Yemen, produces an effect similar to (but usually less intense than) that of methamphetamine or cocaine. Many khat users chew fresh leaves from the plant, while others dry the leaves and then smoke them, brew them into a tea, or make them into a paste, which is also chewed.
Though the drug is thought to pre-date coffee, most Americans have neither used nor heard of it - but if a series of high-profile arrests and seizures are any indication, khat's relative anonymity in the western hemisphere may be changing.
ABOUT THE PLANT
According to an assessment posted on the World Health Organization's website, khat use "induces a state of euphoria and elation with feelings of increased alertness and arousal." In addition to taking khat for the high it produces, users also ingest the plant as a means of fighting fatigue and staving off hunger (the drug also serves as an appetite suppressant).
The two primary psychoactive compounds in khat are cathinone and cathine:
Long-term use of khat can lead to malnutrition, depression, gastro-intestinal disorders, cardiovascular problems, hemorrhoids, and impaired sexual function in males.
A GLOBAL CONCERN
Khat is illegal in the United States, Canada, and many other nations, though a recent attempt to ban the substance in the United Kingdom was rebuffed. In 1980, the WHO declared khat to be a highly addictive substance - but almost three decades after this declaration, the drug remains extremely popular in some parts of the world.
Writing in the September/November 1997 edition of Maroodi Jeex: Somaliland Alternative Newsletter, Mohamed Bali attempts to describe the manner in which the drug has woven itself into the social fabric of some African and Arabic cultures:
According to The Washington Post, the world leader in khat consumption is Somalia, where an estimated 75 percent of adult males use the drug. A report by the National Center for Biotechnology Information on khat use by Somalians states that "since World War II, the prevalence of the practice has continuously increased and no social group is excluded."
KHAT IN THE UNITED STATES
Experts believe that one of the primary reasons that khat use has not caught on in the United States is that the drug does not have a long "shelf life" during which it can be harvested, transported, and distributed. Smuggling fresh leaves from a plant in Yemen to a user in the United States without losing the drug's potency is a challenging proposition, though the following reports indicate that the difficulty has not dissuaded all attempts:
The U.S. Department of Justice believes that most khat use in the United States takes place within Somali, Yemeni, and Ethiopian communities, though officials note that increases in seizures of the drug indicate that it may be becoming more popular in other populations as well.
An Intelligence Bulletin that was issued in May 2003 by the National Drug Intelligence center indicates that the difficulties of transporting the drug - and the prevalence of drugs with similar effects - will likely preclude a khat epidemic here. But continued increases in khat's availability, the NDI states, ensures that the dug will remain "a growing concern among law enforcement agencies in the United States."Back to Drug Addiction
What is Amphetamine Addiction?
Viewed in some circles as the less-threatening "little brother" of the dangerous and highly addictive crystal meth, amphetamine remains a significant threat to the adolescents and adults who use the drug in misguided attempts to fight off fatigue, enhance concentration, or gain a competitive edge in an athletic event.
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