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Codeine and Promethazine Cough Medicine Also Known as Syrup, Purple Drank or Lean

With the latest arrest of Justin Beiber, a fairly unknown drug has made headlines. It is a mixture of the prescription Codeine cough syrup and Promethazine which together act as a powerful cough suppressant but can also produce a euphoric high when abused. It is known on the street as lean, syrup, syzurp or purple drank. Abusers will normally mix a small amount of the cough syrup with a soft drink such as Sprite or 7UP and a hard candy like a Jolly Rancher. They then sip on the narcotic cocktail and get a strong relaxing high. The problem is that codeine is an extremely addicting opiate.

Syrup was first seen being abused in Houston, Texas a few years ago and has spread throughout the world. It has gained its popularity by being mentioned in many rap songs, videos and films. Lil Wayne was one of the first rappers to talk about it publicly which helped it gain mainstream awareness. It's commonly drank out of 2 or 3 styrofoam cups stacked together. (Though there is no reason for someone to stack the cups together, it's become part of the "ritual" for drinking it). In 2008 MTV News interviewed Lil Wayne and one of the topics they discussed was his Promethazine use.  Wayne said it “feels like death in your stomach when you stop. Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy."  This is true as it's very addicting and withdrawals from it can be extremely strong.

The drug is relatively cheap and produces a narcotic high very similar to painkillers. It is popular with young adults at parties as an alternative to alcohol. It is extremely addictive and when taken for too long can produce extreme withdrawal side effects. The drugs slow the respiratory system in the body and overdose of this drug is very lethal.

Over the past week Justin Beiber has made headlines for his drug use and Codeine and Promethazine was on the list along with marijuana and benzos. Many tabloid magazines have released information from credible sources that Beiber has been abusing “lean” with his friends and entourage. Many of the people close to Bieber have seen him abuse drugs and alcohol at alarming rates and are worried about it. They hope he seeks treatment and takes care of these issues before things get out of control.  There are rumors that Bieber is currently in Panama for an "intervention" with his manager, business associates, friends and family.

Codeine is a derivative of morphine and acts similar to heroin on the brain and body. Young adults who begin abusing “lean” do not realize the dangers associated with the drug. In most instances, it is looked at as less dangerous than other drugs.  This can not be further from the truth. Someone who abuses heroin or “syrup” will go through the same withdrawal symptoms as they are both opioid based narcotics. Each can face serious side effects and can ultimately shut their respiratory system down and result in a lethal overdose.

The fact that this medication is mixed with Sprite and candy gives it a fruity taste and a false sense of safety to young adults. It is looked at as an alternative to alcohol at most parties. This is extremely dangerous and schools and authorities need to educate the public on this issue. If you are a parent and have prescription cough syrup in your home, make sure it's disposed of it immediately when you are done taking it. This medication in the wrong hands can lead to addiction and even death.


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