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Drug Alcohol Depend. 1989 Jun;23(3):255-8.

Khat chewing spread to the Somali community in Rome.

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  • 1Institute of Medical Pharmacology, University La Sapienza, Rome, Italy.


The habit of chewing Khat (Catha edulis) to experience its euphorizing and psychostimulant effects has prevailed for centuries among the inhabitants of the Horn of Africa and the Arabian peninsula. In recent years, air transport has removed the major obstacle to the diffusion of Khat, its perishableness. Khat is now air-freighted to Europe and we were able to buy some in Rome. We report the results of interviews with 20 members of the Somali community in Rome, who had continued their habit of chewing Khat whilst abroad. They asserted that they gathered together whenever possible, but preferably at weekends, to chew moderate quantities of Khat (one bundle, about 400 g). The customary habit of drinking tea or other soft drinks containing methylxantines during Khat sessions was maintained and very few subjects admitted drinking alcohol. In this small study sample, Khat chewing still seems to be a social event, as it is in Somalia.

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