Citation: Kam. "Shame I'm Not a Goat: experience with Catha edulis (Khat) & Alcohol (ID 28116)". Erowid.org. Nov 4, 2003. erowid.org/exp/28116
In the abscence of access to regular highs one year, I began scouring the net for new highs. Khat had been on my list for some time - i had heard of it before, having been offered it by somali and yemeni cab drivers up working long shifts, and seen it chewed at festivals. But it was not until a few months ago my curiosity about the drug spurred me to go out an actively search for some.
It was not at all difficult to find. My local head shop did not stock it, so I got the tube into another part of London with a larger african community. My plan was to simply stroll into every shop staffed by somebody with vaguely somalian appearance and ask for it.
I thought this a bit haphazard at first, but by the third shop I was being shown to a flight of stairs and told 'Khat up there'. At the top of the stairs was a single, square room with several people sitting on crates of the stuff, chewing away and chatting animatedly. I introduced myself and explained I was looking for Khat. They invited me to try some and demonstrated how cat should be done, explaining to keep the wad in my mouth and not chew on the twigs. Interestingly, he also told me not to mix it with alcohol as I would not feel the full effect. I ignored this as a matter of necessity.
I bought 6 bundles of sticks for £2 each - each bundle wrapped in a palm leaf, tied with string and twisted at the bottom. I was surprised at how large the bundles were - they almost filled my rucksack. Although I had been told one bundle is enough for one person, to be chewed over several hours, it still seemed like a lot for your money.
I was visiting some friends that evening and as I had been moving about all week still had the khat with me when I arrived at the pub. It was about 9:00 when we began chewing. Three of us chewed one bundle each (still in the pub, and having had a couple of drinks each.) the discarded twigs piled up on the table and we did get some suspicious looks from the bar staff, though nothing was said.
We all had things to do the next morning and had planned to go home after closing time, but by 11:30, all of us suddenly realised we were completely and uttery wired, had been talking extremely fast and loud and everyone's pupils had dilated. It was only once I'd stopped talking and sat still that I noticed I was undergoing a serious buzz. i could feel shivers and tingling down my back, and had lots of energy, almost like after a few lines of charlie, but at the same time, felt completely relaxed and not at all jittery. No visuals, although the pub did seem somewhat brighter. Also, I was giggling a lot. Laughing fits are a key part of the khat experience. I guess we were all laughing at how these stupid looking twigs could have this effect.
We all decided to go on to a club, because none of us felt at all tired. By this point we had chewed a whole bundle each and drank about 4 pints. We did not chew any more in the club, but we did drink more. I was dancing at one point (this never happens without drugs).. and was talking a lot, mostly gibberish but the music was loud so I don't think anybody heard me. I couldn't sit down, and yet, it was in a totally different way to a speed 'can't sit down' feeling. Very hard to describe. Colours still more vivid, but vision sharp, considering the alcohol I'd consumed that night. Altogether a very nice feeling . . .worth the time and effort investment of chewing a whole bundle.
I should note here that we were munching the twigs whole, ignoring my somali friend's advice a second time. We were in a pub, and peeling them was just too messy. Besides, the leaves have a horrible texture that does not lend itself to being chewed very easily, and the twigs were infinitely more chewable. I've been told this can make you ill but none of us experienced any ill effects.
By 2:30, we were still very awake, if a bit drunk, but could feel the buzz begin to wear off and so decided to go back to a friend's house and chew some more.I chewed another bundle over an hour. while I was definitely alert and full of energy, there were no giggles or shivers, and certainly less movement. the feeling had subsided somewhat - perhaps the alcohol had something to do with it, or perhaps the body's resistance kicks in. It was not at all unpleasant feeling though - the mind is moving at speed while the body is content sitting still.
However, by this time I did notice that the constant chewing, coupled with grinding my teeth when not chewing, was really doing my jaw some harm. I didn't really notice the pain until the day after but it lasted for three whole days. I can see why the cab drivers use it, though. It kept me up until nine the following morning, during which time I had drunk lots more, and been to several different houses, and smoked a little. Without the khat I would have been in bed 10 hours earlier.
Altogether I would say that Khat is an excellent stimulant for a stimulant's sake. It does its job of keeping you awake, is easy to get hold of (if you live in a large city) and is dirt cheap. But there are drawbacks. The bulk of the bundles necessary to get high, the time it takes and it's dry, bitter taste are not things everyone can put up with and this makes its use as a recreational drug mildly inconvenient. Also, fresh khat does not stay fresh for long, (as I found out two days later, opening the fridge door to find a pile of greenish-black mush) so must be dried for storage, and I can't even bear to think about what chewing dried khat is like.
Perhaps a concentrated extract of the active compound might catch on as a natural and (I assume) relatively safe party drug - surely it can't be difficult? The Khat buzz is very enjoyable, very effective and long lasting, but in its leaf form, whether it is worth the effort is up to the individual. In my opinion, it's definitely worth a go, but there's few drugs I don't say that about. Of course, if I had the know how to get the buzz without having to chew my way through a kilo of twigs, I'm sure I'd be doing it a lot more often!
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