What Is Lean (Purple Drank/Sizzurp)?
- Where Does Lean Come From?
- Why Drink Lean?
- Is It Legal?
- Is Lean Addictive?
- Treatment For Lean Abuse
Lean, also known as purple drank or sizzurp, is a slang term for a codeine-promethazine cough syrup concoction mixed with soda and candy. Drinking lean to get high can be dangerous and may be a sign of drug abuse.
Lean is a slang term used to refer to codeine cough syrup that’s been mixed with soda, hard candy, and sometimes alcohol.
Alternative names for lean include:
- purple drank
- Texas tea
- dirty Sprite
Codeine, one of the active ingredients in lean, is a naturally occurring opioid commonly used to treat pain. Codeine can be addictive when misused, and fatal if consumed in excessive quantities.
Where Does Lean Come From?
Lean is an illicit concoction or “cocktail” that dates back to the mid-to-late 20th century. It was originally popularized by musicians in Houston, Texas, as a mixture of Robitussin and beer.
In the decades that followed, additional ingredients such as soda and hard candies were added to the mixture—and the drink was referenced in songs by artists such as Lil Wayne, Future, and Three 6 Mafia.
Why Do People Drink Lean?
Codeine, one of the active ingredients in lean, is a drug that has been misused for much longer than lean has been around.
People may drink lean to:
- feel a “buzz”
- experience euphoric effects
- experiment with drugs
- fit in with others who are drinking it
- avoid opioid or alcohol withdrawal
Is Purple Drank Legal?
Most ingredients used to make purple drank can be bought at a drugstore. Codeine cough syrups, however, are available by prescription only.
Codeine is a schedule II controlled substance, which means it has a high potential for misuse, drug dependence, and overdose in high doses.
Effects Of Purple Drank
Drinking lean can produce a wide range of physical, cognitive, and psychological effects—including addiction with chronic use.
Short-term effects of drinking lean can include:
- slowed breathing
- slowed heart rate
- weight gain
- impaired memory
Long-term effects of misusing cough medicine are unknown, according to the National Institute on Drug Abuse.
Chronic drug abuse generally is associated with organ damage, negative effects on mental health, and other personal costs.
Dangers Of Purple Drank
Contrary to what one might believe from its pop culture references, drinking lean can be very dangerous—largely due to the risk of overdose, addiction, and other health effects.
Codeine is an opioid drug, which can cause powerful depressant effects when taken in large quantities. In severe cases, this can lead to fatal overdose.
Signs of lean overdose can include:
- very slow or stopped breathing
- weak pulse
- bluish fingernails and lips
- nodding in and out of consciousness
- low blood pressure
- gurgling sounds
Chronic use of codeine—that is, drinking lean regularly—can also cause drug dependence, which may trigger codeine withdrawal symptoms if you go too long without drinking more.
Is Lean Addictive?
It can become addictive due to the effects of codeine on the brain over time. When used as directed by a doctor, codeine can be safe and effective for its intended purpose.
Lean, however, is not a prescribed medication. People who drink lean may become psychologically addicted to its effects and develop physical drug dependence with chronic use.
Finding Treatment For Lean Abuse And Addiction
Drinking lean can be a sign of drug abuse and addiction. If you or someone you know is drinking lean, it’s important to seek help sooner rather than later.
Treatment for lean addiction may involve:
- medical detoxification
- one-on-one drug counseling
- support groups
- medication for opioid use disorder
Cough medicine abuse is a growing issue among young adults and teenagers. If you, a friend, or a loved one is abusing cough syrup, call our helpline today to find a treatment that’s right for you.
Written by Spring Hill Editorial Team
©2021 Spring Hill Recovery Center | All Rights Reserved
This page does not provide medical advice.
- U.S. Department of Justice: National Drug Intelligence Center—Resurgence in Abuse of ‘Purple Drank’ https://www.justice.gov/archive/ndic/pubs43/43924/sw0008p.pdf
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse: NIDA for Teens—Cough and Cold Medicine (DXM and Codeine Syrup) https://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/cough-and-cold-medicines#topic-2
- U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse—Over-the-Counter Medicines: DrugFacts https://www.drugabuse.gov/publications/drugfacts/over-counter-medicines