Street name: Khat, Chat, Qat

Street use: Chewing leaves or drinking infusion of leaves. Use in U.K among Somali residents and groups from Ethiopia and Arabian peninsular.

Description: Green leafy plant cultivated throughout Africa.

Drug effect: Khat is a mild stimulant. The active ingredient cathinone is released into the bloodstream when the leaves are chewed by the user. Users often report a calming effect.

Dependency: No record of physical dependency but some users become psychologically dependent on the stimulant effects.

Therapeutic use: Khat is used socially in many African countries in much the same way that coffee is used in Western culture.

Withdrawal: There is no recorded withdrawal syndrome. It would be reasonable to expect listlessness and tiredness experienced by other stimulant users.

Long-term use: In the main Khat is chewed and this can lead to medical problems associated with the oral cavity and digestive tract, leading to inflammation and secondary infections. Excessive use can lead to drug induced psychosis. There have been some reports of poisonings of Khat chewers as a result of the inappropriate use of fertilisers used in farming. There is also some evidence of increased risk of oral cancer.

Overdose risk: There is no known record of Khat resulting in overdose, although it would be likely to act with other stimulants causing palpitations and agitation.

Legal status: In 2014 Khat became a Class C controlled drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act meaning that possession and supply of the plant is a criminal offence.