What You Need to Understand about Khat Side Effects

The use of khat, or Catha edulis as it is known by the scientific community, is on the increase throughout South Africa. If you or a loved one is abusing this drug, we would like to offer you this opportunity to familiarise yourself with khat side effects. Empowering yourself with this information may help you or someone else to find freedom from this highly addictive substance.

What is Khat?
Khat, like many other commonly used drugs, is derived from the leaves and buds of a plant. On the street, khat is chewed, consumed as a tea or smoked in a similar way to marijuana. It is also available in a powder form, called methcathinone, which is snorted up through the nose. It is classed as a stimulant. What this means is that it produces an effect that raises the level of key chemicals in the brain. It produces an effect that is similar to amphetamines, leading to a faster heartbeat, increased energy levels and reduced appetite. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), khat does in fact create dependency in drug abusers.

Khat Side Effects

  • Worsening mental health problems: Due to the effect that khat produces in the brain, it has been known to exacerbate existing mental health problems such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
  • Weight loss: Khat has a significant effect on one’s appetite if used for a prolonged period of time. Many khat users relate to the fact that feeding oneself is simply not a priority when satisfying a craving to get the next high becomes of primary importance. In the long term this leads to weight loss in many cases.
  • Social problems: Khat produces an effect in users that temporarily boosts self-esteem – a similar effect is reported amongst users of cocaine. As a result, one of the most common khat side effects is extremely low self-esteem. Many khat abusers find social situations to be extremely intimidating and often become depressed when they cannot interact with people without first getting high. This leads to larger social problems and in many cases, isolation from loved ones and friends.

Digestive problems: Amongst the most frequently reported khat side effects is constipation. In a study published in the Ethiopian Journal of Health Science, constipation was found to be a prevalent problem in 80% of daily khat chewers. Other digestive problems which are associated with khat include haemorrhoids and gastritis.

If you identify these khat side effects in yourself or a loved one, know that help is readily available. Contact us for a free consultation and we’ll support you in your recovery journey.  


The Alcohol and Drug Foundation

The Ethiopian Journal of Health Sciences