Purple drank, like alcohol and other drugs, has often been glorified in pop culture as a method of getting high, which can contribute to teenage drug abuse. Originating in Houston, Texas, in the 1960s, purple drank (also known as sizzurp, purp, lean) can bring about euphoric effects with its use. Unfortunately, sizzurp can create dangerous side effects, including death, if taken at high dosage. The most recent celebrity to be linked to this drug was rapper Lil Wayne (real name Dwayne Michael Carter, Jr.), who suffered a seizure, which is one of the possible side effects of heavy dosage. Although Carter, an admitted user of sizzurp in many of his song lyrics, stated that his epilepsy was what caused the seizures, the story nonetheless brought much national attention to purple drank. As celebrities use drugs, their young and impressionable fans may unfortunately follow suit.

What is Purple Drank?

The primary component in purple drank that gives it its intended high effects is cough syrup (hence the name sizzurp) that contains codeine, an opiate, and the antihistamine promethazine. The purple-like color commonly found in cough syrup attributes to the “purple drank” and “purp” nicknames. The other two other ingredients of purple drank includes soda and Jolly Rancher candy, which add a sweeter flavor to the syrup.

Effects of Sizzurp

Taking sizzurp can put users in a euphoric state. This high can come with severe consequences, however. Because codeine is an opiate, it can be highly addictive if abused. Side effects of purple drank abuse include:

  • raspy voice
  • drowsiness
  • slower heart rate
  • slurred speech
  • seizure
  • lack of coordination

Cases of Cough Medicine Abuse

Dr. Cynthia Lewis-Younger, the medical director at Florida Poison Information Center in Tampa, Florida, said she sees abuse of cold and cough medicines every day, with about 500 cases reported last year. Dr. Lewis-Younger said that this mixture could lead to death if you take enough of it. There has recently been a dangerous cocktail mix of soda and cough syrup laced with codeine making headlines in the music world.

Results from a National Youth Risk Behavior Survey report that many high school teens continue to engage in risky drug related behaviors, which can lead to death. The four leading causes of death in young people aged 10-24 years old are:

  • car crashes
  • other unintentional injuries
  • homicide
  • suicide

The majority of these deaths are drug-related.

“We have seen a concerning increase in clients who abuse cough syrup and other over-the-counter medicines,” said Ryan Johnston, the Admissions Director of Cornerstone Recovery Center.

“We take extra care with those clients because there is greater accessibility to this medication. We often spend more time with these clients because medicinal drug abuse doesn’t carry the harsh social stigma when compared to that of illicit drugs like marijuana or cocaine.”

Treatment for Substance Abuse

Due to the easy accessibility of cough syrup, soda and candy at most stores, many people are susceptible to becoming exposed to this drug, especially the young impressionable ones who idolize a pop culture icon glorifying the use of the drug. If you know someone who is abusing cough syrup or other drugs, do not hesitate to seek help from a drug abuse counselor. For substance abuse treatment in South Florida, call Cornerstone Recovery Center in Ft. Lauderdale at 954.271.2846 or submit an online inquiry.