Author(s): Ihunwo AO, Kayanja FI, AmadiIhunwo UB
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Abstract OBJECTIVE: To examine the use of and perception of the psychostimulant, khat (catha edulis) in three towns in south-western Uganda. DESIGN: Cross-sectional survey. SETTINGS: Mbarara, Kabale and Fort Portal. SUBJECTS: Three categories of respondents prone to khat chewing habit were selected; One hundred and thirty students, thirty five law enforcement officials and sixteen transporters. MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES: Khat chewers existed within the sampled population. The relationship between tobacco smoking, drinking alcoholic beverages and the khat chewing habit was established. RESULTS: Out of 181 respondents, 164(90.6\%) had heard of khat, 126(69.6\%) had seen it and 57(31.5\%) had chewed khat before. As at the time of this study, 37(20.4\%) still chewed khat. Within the three categories of subjects, the use of khat was highest among law enforcement officials (97.1\%), followed by transporters (68.8\%) and students (9.2\%). The majority of khat chewers were in the age range of 16-25 years. There was a clear correlation between khat chewing and the use of stimulants such as alcoholic beverages and tobacco smoking. Those who smoked cigarettes were twenty-eight times more likely to chew khat (OR=28.95\% CI=9.6,83.7). Euphoria, suppressed sleep and increased sexual desire were the most predominant effects experienced by khat chewers. CONCLUSION: The knowledge of khat is widespread and its consumption is on the increase among students, law enforcement officials and transporters in south-western Uganda. This calls for attention considering the public health implications.
This article was published in East Afr Med J
and referenced in Journal of Addiction Research & Therapy