Experts Begin to Issue Warnings on ‘Lean’ Syrup

‘lean,’ prescription-strength cough syrup

Cough syrup with codeine mixture used increasingly for opioid-like effects

Recent incidents have led to growing concerns around ‘lean,’ prescription-strength cough syrup mixed with soft drink or flavored candy that an increasing number of people are using to get a high.

Lean—also known as purple drank, purple lean, sizzurp, dirty sprite, and lean drink—has prescription-strength cough medicine as its main ingredient, combined with soft drinks, and hard, fruit-flavored candy.The prescription cough syrups used to make lean drink present the most danger because they often contain codeine, an opioid drug. Another active ingredient in some prescription cough syrups is promethazine, an antihistamine with potentially sedating effects that, in combination with opioids, could markedly impair motor functioning.

People tend to easily lose track of how much of the drug they have consumed because lean is in drink form and because the cough syrup in it may be masked by pleasant or familiar flavors from soda and candy.

Publicly, the concoction gained popularity through music, with several prominent pop or hip-hop acts including lyrics about their fondness for the drink in songs. 

Conclusive usage statistics are difficult to come by in part because the whole lean phenomenon is a relatively recent one. Also, as the primary ingredient may be obtained legally with a prescription, it becomes difficult to track its misuse as a component of lean. Making the trend of using lean even more complicated are the many celebrities and professional athletes who have been at the center of news stories about the drug. Their media coverage and tacit endorsement of lean use has made the drink a hot topic with the tweens and teens who look up to them and now think that it is safe or cool to use.

Check back for further information on the concoction, and its potential side effects, in the coming weeks.

SOURCES: Medical News Today,

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