It’s called “Sizzurp,” “Lean,” or “Purple Drank.” Have you heard of it?
It may sound innocuous, but it could send your teen to the emergency room.
Sizzurp is a sugary sweet blend of soda (usually Sprite), Jolly Ranchers candy and Promethazine Codeine cough syrup. This is the “pure” version. However, some people add alcohol, crushed pills or other drugs to give it more of a “kick.”
It has quickly gained popularity. A YouTube search on Sizzurp yields thousands of hits. Rappers like Lil’ Wayne and Justin Bieber have glorified Sizzurp in their music, even after Wayne’s near-death overdose last year.
So what’s the draw for young people? According to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, 1 in 10 teens has tried cold medicine or cough syrup to get high. Aside from the “cool” factor, Sizzurp gives users a euphoric high from the Codeine (an opiate mediation). Promethazine (a “downer”) affects their alertness, energy level and motor skills.
When these two ingredients are combined, it can make a person lean over when they stand or walk, thus the nickname “Lean.”
Because Sizzurp is so sweet, drinkers can down it like juice. Before you know it, a person has consumed an entire bottle of cough syrup. That can be up to 25 times the recommended dosage. Too much codeine and promethazine can cause nausea, dizziness, impaired vision, memory loss, hallucinations and seizures.
In overdose situations, Sizzurp can shut down the central nervous and respiratory systems, stopping the heart and suppressing breathing. DJ Screw and rapper Pimp C both died after taking Sizzurp in the early- to mid-2000s.
Parents should be aware that Sizzurp is made from items kids can get right at home. It may seem excessive, but checking your medicine cabinet for missing cough syrup bottles might not be a bad idea. Your teen taking a liking to Jolly Ranchers or Sprite when they didn’t before should also set off alarm bells.