Lean drink or purple drink is a name for a mixture that uses prescription-strength cough syrup. This mixture is not made according to its label, so it is classified as a recreational drug. Originally, lean drink became poplar among the hip hop community in the 1990s. Despite its many dangers, it has remained popular to this day among certain groups in society.
What Is Lean Drink?
The type of cough syrup used in purple drank is made up of promethazine and codeine. It is often mixed with drinks like Mountain Dew or Sprite to make it easier to drink. Some people also add a Jolly Rancher into the mix to make it taste like candy. It is called purple drank because some of the cough syrup’s have a dye that makes it look purple. When used for this off-label use, it can have up to 25 times the recommended dose of cough syrup. Purple drank is also known as lean, barre, Texas tea, Tsikuni, purple jelly and dirty sprite.
The History of Lean
Historically, lean developed in Houston in the 1960s. At the time, blues musicians would mix beer and Robitussin together. Once wine coolers were created, these were substituted for the beer. Rappers and blues musicians who grew up in Houston were the first major audience for lean. The drink later gained a widespread popularity in the 1980s and 1990s once it was mixed with soda and hard candy.
One of the reason people found out about this dangerous concoction is because of rap music. The 1990s rapper DJ Screw mentioned purple drank in several of his songs. Unfortunately, DJ Screw also happened to die from using purple drank too much, so it is an early, cautionary tale about the concoction.
After DJ Screw, lean continued to be popular in the underground rap scene in Houston, Texas. By the 1990s, the drink had spread to other states in the south. In 2000, Three 6 Mafia released a single about drinking purple drank called, “Sippin’ on Some Syrup.” This brought the drink to a national audience and 8.3 percent of Texas high schoolers had used codeine syrup for off-label uses in 2004.
It is safe to say that consuming lean can be life threatening. It is a suspected or confirmed cause of death for several celebrities like DJ Screw. Big Moe died at the age of 33 from a heart attack that may have been caused by purple drank. This blend is dangerous because of the CNS-depressing chemicals in purple drank. When used in high amounts, it can cause respiratory or cardiac arrest. This is only more likely and dangerous when the cough syrup is mixed with alcohol. Another celebrities who died from lean include Pimp C. Meanwhile, Lil Wayne allegedly had a near-death experience because of the drug.
Lean Drink Side Effects
Cough syrup is only intended to be used in small amounts to treat symptoms like a cough. When it is consumed in large quantities, it produces a sense of euphoria as well as dissociation from your body. These immediate side effects will generally last for about three to six hours. It produces a sedative effect and can make the user feel woozy.
Lean can cause side effects like slow, slurred speech and droopy eyes. Users my lose their balance and coordination. It can cause a raspy voice, a slowed heart rate, dental problems, paleness, drowsiness, uncontrolled eye movements, urinary tract infections and constipation. Once used, the pupils constrict and stop responding to light until lean is out of the body.
When cough syrup is used improperly, it can end up becoming addictive. Users may try to drink more lean to achieve the same effects once they are addicted. When this happens, the individual may end up having an opiate overdose that stops their heart or their breathing. If this occurs, it can lead to death. While the numbers of lean abusers dropped from 2000 to 2011, the drink is again becoming popular again.
What Are the Signs That Someone Is Abusing Lean?
As an addictive drug, lean is especially dangerous. The intoxicating blend of cough syrup and soda can easily be abused too much and become life-threatening. If someone abuses purple drank, you may notice that they have impaired motor skills or feel lethargic. They may have symptoms like euphoria, sedation, slurred speech, drowsiness or blurred vision.
Some users may experience immediate side effects when they get high. They may have a headache, dry mouth, chest pain, itching, vomiting or physical weakness. Some individuals may also experience hallucinations, tremors, hives or seizures.
In 2012, Lil Wayne was hospitalized for seizures that he suffered on his private jet. He attributed his seizures to dehydration and a migraine, but many suspect that he was using lean when he developed the side effects. He has since talked about how difficult going through withdrawal is for lean and how important detox is to get clean.
How Does Lean Kill People?
When cough syrup is abused, it can cause death. This is especially true if it is mixed with other substances like ecstasy, cocaine or alcohol. Cough syrup is used for coughs because it is a breathing depressant. When it is used in high quantities, it can end up stopping your ability to breath. It can also stop your heart when used in high quantities.
Unfortunately, many young people feel like lean is safe because it is made with a “legal” ingredient. Like any medication, cough syrup is decidedly unsafe when it is used for off-label mixtures like lean or purple drank. Many teenagers have died from drinking lean, and the side effects of lean drink can be fatal even if the user has only tried it once. In 2012, a Minnesota teenager died after she tried the drink.
Lean drink side effects can be life-threatening in more ways than one. Since it impairs motor skills, it can make it extremely dangerous to drive a car or perform normal tasks. Despite the popularity of this drink, it is important to never use it. Cough syrup, like any prescription drug, should only be used according to the directions on the label.