The average person experiences about one to two common colds a year. Most of the time, they go away on their own or with a small amount of over the counter medication. Occasionally, you may get a cough that is bad enough to send you to the doctor. The doctor then sends you home with a small bottle of purple cough syrup known as Phenergan with Codeine. You take a small amount of the medication and leave the rest in the medicine cabinet for future use. A few weeks later you child develops the same cough and you give them some of the seemingly harmless medication. Little did you know that that bottle is one of the most commonly abused prescription medications in America.

What is Lean?

Phenergan with Codeine also known, asPromethazinewith Codeine, lean, sizzurp, purple drank, or Texas tea, is a prescription cough medicine. It’s most commonly prescribed to relive the symptoms associated with a dry, harsh cough. It’s a combination of 10mg of Codeine with 6.25mg of Promethazine per every 5ml of liquid. In the early 2000 when rap was just beginning to gain popularity a man by the name of DJ Screw unknowingly introduced lean to thousands of young adults. Lean later became a gateway to the powerful clutches of Opioid addiction. He popularized the mixture of Promethazine with Codeine,Alcohol, and candy calling it purple drank, for its purple color and syrup like consistency. His original theory was that purple drank would make style of music sound better. The popularization of this drink lead to the rise in Opioid-related deaths due to overdose.

What Makes it so Popular?

No one in his or her right mind would drink cough syrup just because. What is the purpose of mixing the two and why is it so popular? Essentially, the combination is similar to a California wild fire. California is known for being a fairly windy state, due to its proximity to the ocean. When a wild fire breaks out it usually gets so bad so quickly because the fire is fueled by the wind.In return, the fire creates drierconditions, which then creates more wind. The same could be said for lean. The Alcohol intensifies the effects of the Promethazine with Codeine and vice versa. Promethazine with Codeine works on your dopamine receptors making you feel numb and happy. Alcohol works on the serotonin receptors in the brain making you feel relaxed. TheCodeine numbs pain and Alcohol dims your senses. DJ Screw himself claimed that being on lean was the best way to experience music and concerts. However, every action has an equal and opposite reaction, so anything that can make you feel that good also has the potential to make you feel that bad. When the effects of lean wear off the user is left feeling depressed, fatigued, and overly sensitive to touch or pain. Lean depletes the dopamine receptors so severely that it usually takes a few days for you body to recover. Some people turn to drugs to make them feel better in the mean time, which can lead to other addictions.

Why is it Considered Dangerous?

Why would a seemingly harmless cough medicine be considered dangerous? The cough medicine alone isn’t that dangerous. What most people don’t take into consideration is that the medication is also 7% Alcohol, which means that mixing any additional Alcohol with it just adds to the potency. With that being said, how exactly can purple drank kill you? A dangerous factor is that both Codeine and Alcohol are classified as depressants, meaning they both slow down your heart rate and depress your breathing. Combining the two is how people overdose, their breathing slows to a dangerous level and the body is unable to recover. The effects of lean are not always immediate so many users consume a dangerous amount. Then, by the time the full effects of the medication take action it’s too late. Even drinking a small amount over a periodisn’t advised. A study done by Medline Plus found that the long-term side effects of Promethazine include ticks or twitches, paralysis, and stomach damage. The most severe long-term side effect being irreversible liver damage.

How isit Linked to Opioid Addiction?

The most dangerous aspect of lean is that users can develop a physical dependency.Codeine has a high risk of creating a physical addictioncausing severe withdraw symptoms. Most young adults who end up becoming Heroin addicts started drinking lean and then moved on to other, harder substances. Lean is expensive and more difficult to get ahold of than other prescription drugs.Therefore, when the price of lean becomes too high or the effects just aren’t as good as they used to be kids look elsewhere to get that same experience. Heroin provides a very similar high and for the most part, it’s a lot cheaper than lean. The problem is that the physical dependency and withdraw symptoms from Heroin are about 10 to 15 times stronger than that of lean thus creating the Heroin epidemic.

What Can You do to Help?

How can you help fight the opioid epidemic? Understanding the side effects of medications before you start taking them is very important. Knowing if a medication is potentially addictive or deadly when combined with other substances is the first step. Other precautions include taking medications exactly as prescribed, not sharing medications with others, and disposing of unused medications when they’re no longer needed. Unfortunately, accidental overdoseson this medication are common. Learning the warning signs and what to look for could help save someone’s life. Common signs and symptoms include, shallow or difficulty breathing, blue lips or fingers, nausea, vomiting, or unresponsiveness. If you see someone experiencing these symptoms you should call 9-1-1 immediately. Taking these precautions can help prevent addiction but they’re not guaranteed. Some people are predisposed to addiction and may become addicted to this medication without even knowing it or understanding what’s happening. If you or someone close to you begins experiencing withdraw symptoms, they should stop taking the medication and contact their doctor for alternativeand addiction solutions.

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