The impact of khat use on East African communities in Melbourne: A preliminary investigation
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Introduction and Aims. Catha Edulis Forsk (khat) is a plant-reported to have a stimulant effect similar to that of amphetamines-grown and used by eastern African communities worldwide. Khat can be legally consumed in many parts of the world, including Victoria, Australia. Recent concerns have been raised about the social and economic impacts of khat consumption among Victoria's East African community members. This study explores khat use and the social impact it has on East African families and communities in Melbourne, Australia. Design and Methods. Focus groups and individual interviews were conducted in 2009 with 29 members of Melbourne's East African community recruited via community leaders and snowball sampling. Fifty-five per cent of the sample reported khat use and the remainder reported only having experience of other people's use of the drug. Results. Participants who did not report chewing khat were mainly concerned with the negative social impacts of its use, such as the extended time men spent away from their families while consuming the drug. These participants (mainly women) expressed their hope that khat would be prohibited in Victoria. Participants who reported the use of khat (mainly men) reported that any social problems existed independently of khat consumption. Discussion and Conclusions. This study found only limited evidence that khat use has been impacting directly on people's health and well-being. Any moves to prohibit khat use may further marginalise already vulnerable groups of people. © 2011 Australasian Professional Society on Alcohol and other Drugs.
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