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Yonas Getu Molla started chewing qat as an architecture student, when he and his friends would munch on the leafy stimulant late into the night to help them study.At the state-run Substance Rehabilitation Center, he has been forced to give up qat alongside his other addictions -- a rare approach in a region where few are trying to tackle the controversial habit.While banned in many countries, chewing qat is commonplace in Ethiopia and the wider Horn of Africa region. A user in the capital Addis Ababa would expect to pay around $4 a day for qat from the eastern city of Harar, long a center of production.Welday Hagos, a clinical psychologist and director of the Mekele-based center -- Ethiopia's only free, long-term drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility -- believes that qat is a gateway drug to harder substances.Much like harder drugs, quitting qat takes a physical and emotional toll on longtime users, Welday said.Qat is Ethiopia's second-biggest export behind coffee, with heavy traffic to neighboring Djibouti and Somalia.Mohammed Kelifa, 30, chewed qat for nine years.
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