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Sweden targets khat addiction with new clinic

Published: 07 Dec 2012 08:09 GMT+01:00

"In Somalia, chewing khat is as common as meeting for a cup of coffee or having a beer in Sweden," said Gun Adnell, head of addiction treatment in northern Stockholm, to the health services magazine Vårdguiden.

"The difference is that when you're in Sweden and find yourself in a completely new culture, struggling to find a job, a place to live and learning the language, then it's easier to slip into addiction," she added.

The clinic has been set up in Kista, just north of Stockholm.

Overuse of khat, which originally comes from the Horn of Africa, can lead to anxiety, aggressivity, and difficulties sleeping.

Health care professionals at the clinic also testified to its potentially corrosive social effect.

"I've met many women who say their husbands' khat abuse was the reason they got divorced," psychiatrist Yakoub Aw Aden Abdi told Vårdguiden.

In June, border police arrested a 41-year-old man who was trying to smuggle 340 kilogrammes of khat into Sweden from Norway.

The news agency TT reported that he was arrested because he was driving on the wrong side of the road, prompting other drivers to alert the police.

In 2010, Swedish Customs (Tullverket) seized almost 14 tonnes of khat being brought to Sweden, most of it on the Öresund Bridge connecting Sweden to Denmark.

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Your comments about this article

08:43 December 7, 2012 by BertieAhorn
So a drug that is used as commonly as having a beer or a coffee in Somalia only becomes a problem when the user moves to Sweden and must learn the langauge and find employment etc.?

I am not an expert on khat but I think I may be correct in saying that the drug doesn`t grow freely in Sweden unlike in Africa, this leads me to think that maybe these folk brought their drug problems with them and it isn´t so much to do with their arrival on these shores and the problems one may face being new to Swedish culture, now if they suddenly increased their coffee intake or started sucking on the snuss or hitting the bottle then I could maybe agree the addiction was due to the poor souls coming here.

May I suggest stronger screening of imigrants and maybe turn down those that will require addiction treatment and further funding from an already over worked public purse freeing up funds to be used in helping the native alcoholics and drug addicted folk, God knows there are more than enough of them without importing any more.
09:22 December 7, 2012 by Achilles7
This is ridiculous. If it's an illegal drug then those caught with it should be sent to prison, of if they are immigrants or asylum seekers, deported back to their country. What's the point in having laws at all if you're allowed to break them?
14:53 December 7, 2012 by Carbarrister
Since the problem arises from the "over use of khat" the clinic should teach the appropriate use of khat at home and in the work place and provide it for free or at subsidized prices to discourage illegal importation by profiteers.
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