Cat / Khat dependency
KHAT refers to a type of drug made from Meth-cathinone, which is naturally derived from the leaf of the shrub Catha Edulis, which contains Cathinone and is also called ”khat, quat, kat, gat and tchat”. For centuries it has been used in Arabian countries in Central and East Africa. Shipments are brought into South Africa as vegetables. It costs anything around R 75 per kilogram (2009). The leaves need to be fresh to keep its potency. Cathinone and cathine are the stimulants in Khat that make a person feel high. The World Health Organization (WHO) lists Khat as a drug that creates “dependence” in people, meaning it produces a continuing desire to keep using it. In Somalia, civilian and military use of Khat has been blamed for fueling civil war, draining the nation’s economy, and undermining international relief efforts.
The other type is synthetically made from a synthetic powder which contains Meth-cathinone. What is a synthetic drug? CAT is a synthetic drug “cooked” up from various combinations of other toxic substances. It is sold in a powder form and is much quicker, stronger and the effects are much more condensed than the natural form. Many compare the effects to that of crystal meth as well as cocaine. Crystal Meth is made from the same base substances as CAT. CAT can in fact be reduced to create meth, with the only difference the purity, the intensity and prolonged effects of the “high”. It is the same substance in the same way that Cocaine and Crack are the same substance, just varying strengths. It can be snorted or inhaled and is highly addictive. CAT causes an intense psychological addiction.
The synthetic version is a dangerous addictive drug that is cheap and easy to manufacture in home kitchens. It appeared out of nowhere and created a potential drug crisis. The drug is concocted from a “witches brew” of acids, thinners, and over-the- counter asthma medication.
Dealers are cutting the cat with different drugs to get the user hooked and also to make more profit – so you actually don’t know what you are using. Cat is known as “the poor man’s coke” as it exhibits similar characteristics to speed.
How is CAT used?
Cat can be mixed in a drink or injected, but the most popular method is snorting.
Immediately after smoking or intravenous (IV) injection, the user experiences an intense sensation, often called a “rush”, which lasts only a few minutes and is described as extremely pleasurable. Oral or intra-nasal use produces euphoria or high, but not a rush. Snorting methamphetamine will lead to effects within 3 to 5 minutes, whereas oral ingestion takes 15 to 20 minutes
The side effects are similar to those of cocaine: it causes euphoria, increased alertness, anxiety, loss of appetite, slurred speech, dilated pupils, strange erratic behaviour, body aches, stomach pains, nausea and fatigue.
The effect lasts 4-6 hours.
Long term effects are: abscesses, dark black rings under eyes, quick aging, disorientation, indifference, hallucinations, psychosis, seizures, convulsions, respiratory failure, stroke, heart failure, death.
Withdrawal can include lethargy, depression, nightmares and tremors.