• awa
  • grog
  • kava kava
  • kawa
  • lewena
  • sakau
  • waka
  • wati
  • yaqona
Is kava a problem for you?
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What is kava?

Kava is the common word for the pepper plant, Piper methysticum. The root of the kava plant is used to make a drink which acts as a depressant and slows down the brain and nervous system.

Drinking kava is a traditional practice for many Pacific and South Sea Island communities, where it is used during cultural ceremonies, for medicinal purposes, and at social gatherings.

Kava may come in the form of the root of a plant, a brown liquid or powder, or may be added to capsules, drops or drinks.

The active compounds in kava are called kavalactones.

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​Ingesting kava in amounts commonly used for traditional purposes is likely to be low risk for most people but prolonged use or combining it with alcohol or other drugs can be dangerous.

Short term effects

  • make you feel relaxed
  • make you feel talkative
  • numbness of the mouth
  • reduced coordination

Effect depend on..

The effects of kava depend on how much you ingest, how quickly you ingest it, whether you have eaten, your size and weight, your overall health and how often you use kava. 

It can also depend on how healthy your liver is, or whether you use kava with alcohol or other drugs, including medications. 

  • tiredness
  • muscle weakness
  • fatigue

How kava affects your body

Tap a body part to learn more of the effects kava places on your body.

Long term effects can include

  • weight loss and malnutrition
  • nausea
  • stomach upset
  • red eyes
  • impotence (men)
  • poor overall health
  • fatigue
  • low motivation

General information

Is kava a problem for you?

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  • The Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS) is a free and confidential counselling helpline for NSW residents with concerns around alcohol and/or drug misuse and is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. ADIS is staffed by professional counsellors who provide education, information, counselling, support and referrals to other appropriate services in NSW.

    Are you worried you could be drinking too much or consuming drugs in a way that has become a problem? Are you worried about your friends or family finding out and want to get help quickly and quietly? Are you worried about the drug use of someone close to you – maybe a family member or friend? Maybe you just want to know where someone can get help? 

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    You can call ADIS 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 1800 250 015 or for Sydney Metropolitan 02 8382 1000 or alternatively you can start a Web Chat.

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  • ​​The Alcohol & Drug Information Service (ADIS) Web Chat is a live online conversation with a professional counsellor. The service is free, confidential and open to anyone affected by alcohol and other drugs, including people concerned about their own use, or about a family member or friend. Web chat is only available for people living in NSW.

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