Drug Dictionary Series: Khat



What is it?

Khat is a psychoactive stimulant that comes from the Catha edulis plant found in Eastern Africa and Southern Arabia. Since the 1300s, khat has been chewed regularly as a communal act of the indigenous people groups of the area. Traditionally, the plant has been used to elevate mood and combat fatigue as a social tonic or tea similar to coffee or alcohol. However, the plant has a potency more related to cocaine and other amphetamines. Still today, many chew khat for its euphoric effects and cultural symbolism.

What does it look like?

Khat leaves are usually green or green-brown with an often-glossy film. As the leaves dry, they can turn a leathery yellow-brown. Often, khat is mistaken for marijuana.

What are some other names for Khat?

Popular nicknames for khat include but are not limited to: African salad, cat, chat, gat, jaad, jat, oat, qat, tohai, tschat.

How is it used?

Khat can be smoked, chewed, or brewed as a tea. Sometimes the leaves are crushed into a powder and sprinkled over food.

What are the effects of the drug?

Short-Term Effects:

  • Depression
  • Euphoria
  • Hallucinations
  • Headaches
  • High blood pressure
  • Increased heart rate
  • Loss of appetite
  • Loss of short-term memory
  • Panic
  • Paranoia
  • Tremors

Long-Term Effects:

  • Chest pain
  • Constipation
  • Fatigue
  • Increased heart rate
  • Stomach inflammation
  • Tooth decay
  • Ulcers

An overdose often leads to stroke or heart attack.

What is its federal classification?

Khat is a Schedule I drug. This means that there is no currently accepted medical use, and there is a high potential for abuse.

Where can I find more information on it?


The Addiction Center