Kava kava is a preparation of the root of the Yaquona, a Polynesian plant, where it is served as a popular drink or remedy. It is sold under a number of guises, chiefly as a sleeping or calming agent in healthfood shops or as a herbal high in head-shops.
Sold as capsules or in its raw form, the drug is eaten, or dissolved in liquid. Traditionally, the drug is chewed and then spat into a bowl, where the contents are allowed to ferment, increasing the drugs potency.
Among those who have tried this beverage are President Lyndon Johnson and Queen Elisabeth II on her visit to Fiji.
The drug is not illegal to possess in the UK.
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Green, K, special K, super K.
What is ketamine?
Ketamine is a powerful anaesthetic drug which has been used for operations on humans and animals.
In 1992 it found its way on to the club and rave scene in the UK when people took it thinking they were buying ecstasy. It has been likened to the drug PCP.
Ketamine comes in a variety of forms, ranging from its liquid pharmaceutical state, for injecting, through to pill to be taken orally. Powders are sniffed up the nose or sometimes smoked.
The level of use is not well known however. Anecdotal evidence suggest the drug is chiefly found at hard-core dance clubs/events and squat-parties, where hallucinogens and stimulants are a favourite among goers. The drug is thought to be on the increase among college students, who prefer it because it is cheap and often easy to get from local medical sources.
The price of ketamine varies from £10 to £20 a gram depending on who it is bought from and where.
As of January 1st 2006 Ketamine is a class C Drug under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971.
Ketamine has pain killing effects but also alters perception. People who use it commonly say they feel detached from themselves and others around them. The drug is described as dose specific. This means the amount taken will strongly determine the extent and type of effect the drug will have.
At low doses (roughly 100mg), the user will feel euphoric and experience rushes or waves of energy. At higher doses (200mg and over) the user will often experience hallucinations, similar to LSD, and the typical out-of-of-body or detached experience. This is often followed by numbness, often in the limbs, and strange muscle movements. Users may also feel sick or throw up - dangerous at high doses if the user is unconscious or very disorientated and can choke on their vomit.
Accidents from lack of co-ordination may be more likely and large doses could lead to loss of consciousness. It may be difficult to know how strong a dose is being taken and what else is mixed in with it.
In general, literature on the consequences of long-term ketamine use is sparse, but reports suggest that flashbacks, memory, attention and vision impairment may result from frequent and prolonged use. Tolerance develops quickly, requiring more of the drug to achieve the same repeated high. Stimulant-like weight loss and loss of appetite may occur during periods of heavy use, as well as psychological dependence, psychosis and gradual loss of contact with the real world.
Ketamine use can also be particularly dangerous if used at the same time as depressant drugs such as alcohol, barbiturates, heroin or tranquillisers as it can shut the body down to such an effect that the lungs or heart to stop functioning.
There are few known cases of death from ketamine use in the UK.
What is khat?
Khat is a green-leafed shrub that has been chewed for centuries by people who live in the Horn of Africa and Arabian peninsula. It has recently turned up in Europe, including the UK, particularly among emigrants and refugees from countries such as an Somalia, Ethiopia and the Yemen.
Khat (Catha edulis)
Khat is imported to London and sold at greengrocers in areas such as East London. It sells at about £4 a bunch but only remains potent for a few days after picked. It is strongest when the fresh leaves are chewed but can also be made into a tea or chewable paste.
The Khat plant itself is not controlled under the Misuse of Drugs Act, but the active ingredients, cathinone and cathine, are Class C drugs. Cathininone may not be lawfully possessed or supplied except under a licence for research, though cathine may be prescribed. It is controlled by law in countries such as America, Canada, Norway and Sweden.
References to khat use can be found in Arab journals from the 13th century. Physicians prescribed khat to treat depression and lack of energy. The stimulant effects also mean it has been commonly used by peasants who work long hours. In some Muslim countries where alcohol is banned, khat is commonly used in social situations, although khat is often condemend on religious and cultural grounds.
Khat is a stimulant drug with effects similar to amphetamine.Chewing it makes people feel more alert and talkative and suppresses the appetite, though users describe an ensuing calming effect when used over a few hours. Regular use may lead to insomnia (inability to sleep), anorexia and anxiety. In some cases it may make people feel more irritable and angry and possibly violent. Psychological dependence can result from regular use so that users feel depressed and low unless they keep taking it.
There has been concern about the use of khat and its effect on some of its regular users in the Somali community. While khat may be causing some problems for refugees from the war in Somalia its use needs to be viewed alongside the poverty and racism experienced by many of these people.