What Is Lean?

Promethazine-codeine cough syrup relieves a variety of symptoms related to the common cold. In recent years, people have combined the medicine with flavored candy and soda for recreational purposes. The mixture known as lean can cause seizures, overdose and addiction.
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“Lean” is a slang term for a drink that contains the medications promethazine and codeine. People often combine a cough syrup containing the drugs with soda and flavored candies such as Jolly Rancher. Also known as “purple drank” and “sizzurp,” the beverage can produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria.

Promethazine is a prescription cold medication used to treat various conditions, including nausea and vomiting. Codeine is a naturally occurring opiate that relieves pain. They are combined in promethazine-codeine cough syrup, a prescription medication used to alleviate symptoms of allergies or the common cold.

When taken in high doses, sizzurp can create a high similar to that of heroin. But it can also lead to a number of physical and psychological health problems. Taking too much of the concoction can cause overdose or death.

Who Uses Purple Drank?

Promethazine-codeine cough syrup has become a popular recreational drug among young people in certain areas in the United States. According to the Monitoring the Future survey, about 3.2 percent of high school seniors abused prescription or over-the-counter cough or cold medicine in 2017.

Because purple drank gained notoriety from rap music and high-profile cases involving African-American NFL players, African-American males are perceived to use lean most often. But a 2013 study published in the journal Addictive Behaviors indicated that young people of various demographics use it.

The report measured sizzurp use among nearly 2,350 students enrolled at a large public university in the southeastern United States.

According to the results:

  • Men used lean more than women
  • Hispanics had the greatest rate of purple drank use, followed by whites and then blacks
  • Many students who used the concoction struggled academically
  • LGBT students used it at a higher rate than heterosexual students
  • More than one in 10 marijuana users drank sizzurp

Many rap artists, including Lil Wayne, have glorified lean use in music. A number of rappers have died of complications associated with purple drank.

How to Identify Sizzurp Use

You may find evidence of lean use in your teen’s backpack, locker or room. If you suspect your child is abusing purple drank, look for key physical, behavioral and social changes.

Signs of lean use include:

  • Empty foam cups or bottles of promethazine
  • Drowsiness or lack of energy
  • Lack of motivation
  • Disinterest in normal hobbies
  • Changes in appearance
  • Frequent and sudden trips to the bathroom

Abusing purple drank can also affect your teen’s academic success. Using the drug affects memory, which can inhibit the ability to learn and cause grades to drop. To help your child avoid substance abuse, explain the dangers of lean and other drugs.

What Does Lean Do To You?

Many teens falsely believe that prescription drugs, including promethazine with codeine, are safe. But excessive amounts of codeine and promethazine can slow heart rate and breathing. Mixing the substances together or with alcohol can increase the risk for numerous health problems, including death.

Side effects of codeine include:

  • Dizziness
  • Redness of the arms, face, neck and upper chest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Stopping of the heart
  • Brain damage

Promethazine is an antihistamine that can also lead to numerous adverse reactions. Physical and psychological side effects of promethazine include:

  • Changes in blood pressure
  • Abnormal heart rhythm
  • Severe breathing problems
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizures

Although codeine is less potent than morphine, it is a highly addictive opioid that can cause overdose. An overdose occurs when someone consumes too much of a drug.

Symptoms of codeine overdose include

  • Bluish lips or skin
  • Chest pain
  • Small pupils
  • Decreased awareness
  • Loss of consciousness

Mental health problems are closely associated with codeine use. In fact, a 2016 study published in the journal Pharmacoepidemiology and Drug Safety found that people who chronically use codeine have a 30 percent greater risk for depression than those who use hydrocodone.

Treating Lean Addiction

Repetitive use of lean can result in addiction, a brain disease that affects a person’s physical, mental and social health. People who have a codeine addiction compulsively seek the drug despite knowing the consequences.

Codeine is the addictive ingredient in lean. To overcome codeine addiction, treatment is necessary. Opioid rehab centers in the United States employ trained medical professionals experienced in helping clients overcome various opioid use disorders.

During treatment, addiction experts may consider using opioid agonists such as methadone or Suboxone, which contains buprenorphine and naloxone. These medications reduce cravings and withdrawal symptoms associated with opioid addiction.

If you suspect a loved one is abusing sizzurp, consider contacting an addiction hotline. An admissions representative can assist you in identifying signs of drug use, understanding the dangers of lean and locating a nearby rehab facility.

Matt Gonzales
Content Writer, DrugRehab.com
Matt Gonzales is a writer and researcher for DrugRehab.com. He graduated with a degree in journalism from East Carolina University and began his professional writing career in 2011. Matt covers the latest drug trends and shares inspirational stories of people who have overcome addiction. Certified by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in health literacy, Matt leverages his experience in addiction research to provide hope to those struggling with substance use disorders.

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