If you haven’t heard of a drink called lean, your teen most likely has. It’s also referred to as sizzurp, purple drank and syrup—as in, it will make you lean over.
The drink has been around for a while. It’s likely become popular due to being glamorized in songs, rap videos, and social media posts. High-profile athletes have also made headlines for suspensions and hospitalizations related to using this drink.
SO WHAT EXACTLY IS LEAN?
Lean is a drink consumed at parties to get high. While it may sound and look innocent, it is anything but. This dangerous drink contains a potentially deadly mix of prescription cough syrup containing promethazine with codeine, a mixing agent (most often a fruit-flavored soda), and a piece of candy dropped in for flavoring and color.
The drink is particularly concerning for a couple of reasons. The sheer sweetness of purple drank masks the dangerous drugs in it, which might encourage someone to drink more of it. And drinking large amounts could lead to an overdose of codeine and promethazine.
WHY ARE CODEINE AND PROMETHAZINE HARMFUL?
Codeine is an opiate and is classified as a narcotic controlled substance. It is in the same family of drugs as morphine and can be addictive. It is used for pain relief and to suppress coughing.
Promethazine has sedative properties. It is prescribed to help with nausea, vomiting, motion sickness, and pain. When used recreationally (meaning, for fun), promethazine can slow down the central nervous and respiratory systems, affect the heart, and cause seizures.
When promethazine and codeine are used together and not under provider’s orders, the mixture can be dangerous. It can slow the function of the brain, slow breathing, stop the heart and lungs from working, and can be deadly.
SO WHAT CAN PARENTS DO ABOUT IT?
While prescription drug abuse is an ongoing and pervasive problem, the danger of having it in a tasty mix raises concern for both parents and healthcare professionals.
Armed with the ways in which teens are referring to this drink, we recommend talking to your child about it. Help them understand how dangerous it is by talking about how addictive it can be and that it can be fatal. And give them some examples of ways to “just say no” at parties.
As always, if you have questions about sizzurp or any other drug-related questions, please do not hesitate to call Cincinnati Children’s Drug and Poison Information Center at 1-800-222-1222. We are here 24/7 to help you.