Khat chewing spread to the Somali community in Rome

Paolo Nencini, Maria Caterina Grassi, Abdikadar Ashkir Botan, Abdullahi Farah Asseyr and Eugenio Paroli Institute of Medical Pharmacology, University “La Sapiensa” and Servisio Speck& Antzdroga, Policlinico Umberto I, P.le A. Moro 5, 00185 Rome (Italy) (Received January 31st, 1989)
ABSTRACT: The habit of chewing Khat (Catha edulisl 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 Kbat whilst abroad. They asserted that they gathered together whenever possible, but preferably at weekends, to chew moderate quantities of Khat (one bundle, about 400 gl. 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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