Tag Archives: Healthy living

LOOK FOR THE GOOD

Look For The Good

In the New Year, let’s resolve
to get less stressed, upset, anxious
about things over which we have no control.
Lets have a narrower focus on our lives,
loving and helping our family and friends,
making our community a better place to live,
to create peace and contentment.

In the New Year, let’s resolve
to pay less attention to depressing stories
on TV, in magazines and newspapers,
and to stop focusing on what we want
that we haven’t got,
instead of appreciating
the many blessings we do have.

In the New Year, let’s look for the good.
We may have to search
through a mass of negative media,
but the good is there,
all around us.

I wish for you a New Year filled with good, engulfed in serenity and happiness!

KHAT-MIRAA/MUGUKA (FINAL PART)

Khat and the law
On 24 June 2014 khat becomes a Class C drug which means it is illegal to have or to supply khat.
It is also be an offense to bring khat into the country, so if you’ve been abroad to a country where khat is legal you cannot bring it back to the UK with you.

Khat fact sheets are available in Amharic, Arabic, English, Somali and Swahili for information on the reasons for the ban, penalties for possession, and where to go for advice and support.  They can be used  by individuals and local, voluntary or other organizations working in health, prevention, social care and law enforcement. 

What if you’re caught?

If the Police catch you with khat, they’ll always take some action. This could include a penalty notice, a formal caution, or arrest and possible conviction.
If you are caught with khat (called possession) you could be arrested and face up to two years in prison and/or get an unlimited fine. If you are caught dealing or supplying (and that could just mean giving some to your mates) you could get up to 14 years in jail and/or get an unlimited fine. 

A conviction for a drug-related offense could have a serious impact. It could make it harder, even impossible, to visit certain countries – for example the United States – and limit the types of jobs you can apply for.

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

Addiction Doesn’t Always Involve an Illegal Drug

There are plenty of people who are addicted to substances that can be purchased legally. Alcohol, for example, is legal for an adult to purchase. A person abusing inhalants can become addicted to common household chemicals. And in other cases, it takes time for a drug to be outlawed in a state or country, once its dangerous properties are recognized. Therefore, khat use 

Did you know?

  • Like drinking and driving, driving while under the influence of drugs is illegal – with some drugs you can still be unfit to drive the day after using. You can get a heavy fine, be disqualified from driving or even go to prison.
  • Allowing other people to supply drugs in your house or any other premises is illegal. If the police catch people supplying illegal drugs in a club they can potentially  prosecute the landlord, club owner or any person concerned in the management of the premises.

Discussion

Our qualitative study identified that khat is commonly used by members of the Australian Somali community, particularly men, and that participants’ views about the links between khat use and personal health varied regarding its benefits and harms. Use is linked to community networks and cultural traditions, and may also be associated with existing high levels of mental health disorders (anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder) among displaced refugee communities.

Large quantities of khat need to be consumed in order to achieve a “high”. The fresh leaves preferred by khat users contain a higher ratio of cathinone to the less psychoactive cathine, and are usually sourced from local trees. Dried khat is usually imported into Australia from Kenya or Ethiopia. The effects that were seen as positive (increased energy, elevated mood, reduced appetite) and the adverse effects (sleep and mood disorders, poor appetite, constipation) commonly reported by participants were consistent with the weak psychostimulant properties of the active components of khat. Some participants also identified a negative impact on psychosocial functioning and relationships, although more severe drug-induced psychosis or violence were reported to be uncommon. Participants suggested that when it occurs it is not a direct effect of the drug; we suggest that such behaviour may be due to the effects (or discontinuation effects) of khat.

The concurrent consumption of large volumes of sugary drinks and sweets to counteract the bitter taste of khat, coupled with reduced appetite and poor nutrition, is likely to contribute to poor oral health.

Overwhelmingly, participants in this study incorrectly believed that khat was harmless or possibly beneficial for a range of medical complaints. There were a number of instances where perceived effects contradicted the evidence — for example, reports that khat was useful in treating diabetes. Such reports may arise from the appetite suppressant effects of khat, yet are in contrast to the limited evidence suggesting that khat may increase blood glucose levels in people with type 2 diabetes. The concurrent consumption of sweet food and drink may also contribute to the development of diabetes. Further, the belief that khat use increases libido and fertility contradicts the limited evidence that long-term use of khat may reduce sperm count, volume and motility.

Difficulties in detecting and responding to health problems associated with khat use may be compounded by poor health literacy and poor utilisation of health services by people who use khat, different cultural understandings of the role of khat as a drug, stigma regarding disclosure of khat use to health care providers, and low awareness among health practitioners of khat use, its effects, and the health issues affecting refugees.

Those experiencing adverse effects are most likely to access general health services complaining of specific symptoms (eg, sleep or mood problems, constipation) and may not report their khat use because of concerns regarding stigma, illegality or genuine belief that khat use is not linked to any health problems. Khat users may also present (or be referred) to drug and alcohol treatment services with dependence issues, although there are no specific services available for khat users in Australia. Multicultural drug and alcohol health services are available in some states and may be able to offer more culturally specific assistance to patients.

Health professionals have a role to play in educating users about potential harms arising from khat use, promoting responsible use of the drug in order to minimise the negative health effects for the individual and for the community, and informing community members who experience problems about the services available to them. Health information resources regarding khat use are available through websites, such as the Australian Drug Foundation’s DrugInfo site (http://www.druginfo.adf.org.au/). Importantly, many users reported not disclosing their khat use to health professionals, and we therefore recommend that health professionals should routinely enquire about khat use and related health problems with patients of Somalian or other East African background, incorporated into enquiries regarding lifestyle factors such as use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances.

STAY DRUG FREE……….

KHAT – MIRAA/MUGUKA (PART THREE)

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

Addiction Doesn’t Always Involve an Illegal Drug

There are plenty of people who are addicted to substances that can be purchased legally. Alcohol, for example, is legal for an adult to purchase. A person abusing inhalants can become addicted to common household chemicals. And in other cases, it takes time for a drug to be outlawed in a state or country, once its dangerous properties are recognized. Therefore, khat use in a country in which it is not illegal can still be damaging to the individual who can’t stop using it despite harm being done to his life, relationships or future.

Even if khat is used in accepted social situations, if a person stops being able to be successful in life, if he neglects goals that are important to him or stops caring for responsibilities that he once held dear, such as his career or family, then the chances are very good that this person needs help to leave khat abuse behind.

The Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation program can help a person addicted to khat, just like it helps an alcohol or heroin addict. The drug does not matter, because the pattern of addiction is very similar from one person to the next. The generally eight to ten week Narconon rehab program has an excellent record of helping those addicted to any substances find lasting sobriety and a return of interest in those things that really matter to him or her.

KHAT Dosing

The appropriate dose of khat depends on several factors such as the user’s age, health, and several other conditions. At this time there is not enough scientific information to determine an appropriate range of doses for khat. Keep in mind that natural products are not always necessarily safe and dosages can be important. Be sure to follow relevant directions on product labels and consult your pharmacist or physician or other healthcare professional before using.

Psychoactive and mental health effects

The increased energy level and enhanced mood from khat use led some users to suggest that khat is a useful treatment for depression: “We use it for remedy and it doesn’t cost the government” (Somali woman, Melbourne). Conversely, commonly identified psychological health problems such as disrupted sleep patterns, low mood and irritability were reported to occur after the effects of khat had worn off.

A minority of participants identified a link between heavy khat use and more severe mental health problems:

It’s a very major source of madness, of craziness. People are alright if they stop it, they can come back alright . . . but when you overuse it, and overuse it, that’s when you come to this situation. (Somali man, Perth.)

The general view of participants in to a proven survey was that people do not become more violent upon using khat, although some participants reported domestic violence linked to khat use. Many participants

TO BE CONTINUED……….

KHAT – MIRAA/MUGUKA (PART TWO)

KHAT Uses & Effectiveness

What are the effects of khat?
Khat is a stimulant and chewing it can:

  • Make people more alert and talkative
  • Produce feelings of elation
  • Suppress the appetite
  • Produce a feeling of calm if it’s chewed over a few hours, with some describing it as being ‘blissed out’
  • Lead to periods of insomnia

What are the risks of khat?
Because khat is a plant, some people think that it is safe to use. But using any drug involves risk. Here’s what it could do to you:

  • You may develop insomnia and short-lived states of confusion.
  • You can get high blood pressure, heart palpitations and heart problems with heavy use.
  • As khat can cause periods of increased libido, care may be needed to minimize the risk of unsafe sex and unwanted pregnancies.
  • Khat can inflame the mouth and damage the teeth. It can also reduce appetite and cause constipation, and there is concern about a longer-term risk of development of mouth cancers.
  • It can give you feelings of anxiety and aggression.
  • It can make pre-existing mental health problems worse and can cause paranoid and psychotic reactions (which may be associated with irritability, anxiety and losing touch with reality).
  • There is a small risk of significant liver disease, which has the potential to be life threatening.
  • Impurities
    Because khat comes in recognizable leaf form, it can’t easily be cut with anything.

Can you get addicted to khat?
Khat can make a user psychologically dependent (with craving and a desire to keep using in spite of potential harm). When some users stop using they can feel lethargic or mildly depressed and may have a withdrawal period with fine tremors and nightmares.

The effects of khat include:

  • Euphoria
  • Loss of appetite
  • Increased energy
  • Increased sociability
  • Increased alertness
  • Cheerfulness
  • Sense of well-being
  • Reduction of boredom

Some people can develop a hyperactive mania after continuous use, or manifest aggression or even a short-lived psychotic episode. It is difficult for most people to consume enough of the drug to develop these more severe symptoms.

A couple of hours after use, a person can begin to experience:

  • Tension
  • Depression
  • Sluggishness
  • Emotional instability
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Lack of concentration
  • Restlessness

Withdrawal Effects of Khat

When a person stops using the drug, he can experience with following withdrawal effects:

  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Sedation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Lassitude
  • Trembling
  • Brief hallucinations that occur as a person is going to sleep or waking up

Similar Synthetic Drugs

The two intoxicants in the plant are cathinone and cathine. They are similar to but milder than amphetamine. In the last several years, synthetic forms of this drug have become popular and dangerous. Synthetic cathinones are very often the types of drugs found in “bath salts.” They are far stronger in their synthetic forms. Mephedrone, methylone, methcathinone and MDPV (3,4-methylenedioxypyrovalerone) are all illicit synthetic drugs in this class.

TO BE CONTINUED……………