“Lean” is a common slang term for a drink that contains the drugs codeine and promethazine. Codeine is an opium alkaloid similar to morphine from which heroin is derived. Although both morphine and heroin are both much more potent than codeine, excessive consumption of this substance still has the potential to result in death as well as a wide variety of mental and physical health complications.
Lean is also frequently referred to as “sizzurp” or “purple drank.” Promethazine is a relatively benign antihistamine but can lead to drowsiness. It is sometimes found in products that contain codeine, an opiate painkiller that can help suppress cough in prescription cough syrup formulations. The Lean cocktail includes a drug such as this, as well as soda and flavored candies, often Jolly Ranchers.
When ingested, especially in large amounts, Lean can produce feelings of euphoria, relaxation, and drowsiness, not unlike heroin. Unfortunately, it is possible to overdose on Lean, and several celebrities have experienced this. Because codeine is a CNS (central nervous system) depressant, it can slow breathing, heart rate, and lower body temperature down to dangerously low levels. Without immediate medical intervention, respiratory arrest and death can occur.
Who Abuses Lean?
In recent years, promethazine-codeine cough syrup has become a somewhat common recreational drug among teenagers and young persons in certain regions of the U.S. According to government statistics, in 2017, more than 3% of high school seniors reported abusing prescription or over-the-counter cough and cold medication.
Lean has been highly popularized by rap/hip-hop artists and cases involving NFL players. African-American males are perceived as those who use Lean most frequently, but research from 2013 revealed that it is used by young people from a wide range of demographics. The study found Lean use among more than 2,300 students at a large public university in the Southeastern region of the United States.
The results were reported as follows:
- Men were more likely to drink Lean than women
- Hispanics had the highest rate of Lean use, followed by whites and then blacks
- Many students who consumed Lean struggled academically
- LGBTQ students abused Lean at a higher rate than their heterosexual counterparts
- More than 10% of cannabis users also drank Lean
Probably the main reason why people widely believe that black men are the most likely to abuse Lean is that many rap and hip-hop artists, including Lil Wayne, have glorified Lean use in music. Several have overdosed or died related to complications associated with its use.
How to Identify Lean Use
Common Signs of lean use include the following:
- Empty foam or plastic cups or bottles of cough syrup that contain promethazine and codeine
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Lack of motivation
- Loss of interest in hobbies once considered enjoyable
- Adverse changes in appearance
- Frequent trips to the bathroom
- Among students, poor academic performance
What Does Lean Do?
Many young persons falsely believe that prescription medication, including those that contain codeine, are safer to use than illicit drugs. But, as noted, high amounts of codeine can slow heart rate and depress breathing. When used in conjunction with promethazine or other substances such as alcohol, it can dramatically increase the risk of health problems, including coma and death.
Side effects of codeine may include the following:
- Skin redness/flushing
- Shortness of breath
- Confusion and mental fog
- Slowed pulse
- Brain damage
Promethazine is an anti-allergy medication that can also cause adverse reactions. Side effects of promethazine can include the following:
- Changes in blood pressure
- Irregular heart rate
- Breathing problems
Codeine is less powerful than morphine and heroin, but it is still a potent substance, and misusing it in any other way than as directed by a physician can result in an overdose.
Symptoms of codeine overdose may include the following:
- Bluish lips or skin (cyanosis)
- Chest pain
- Pinpoint pupils
- Decreased alertness
- Loss of consciousness
- Respiratory arrest
- Coma and death
Several mental health conditions are also closely associated with codeine abuse. A 2015 study revealed that people who codeine chronically have a 30% higher likelihood of depression than those who use hydrocodone, a semi-synthetic prescription painkiller that is derived from thebaine, another opium alkaloid.
Getting Help for Lean Abuse
Regular use of lean can lead to addiction, a chronic brain disease that negatively impacts a person’s physical and emotional health, and well-being. Individuals who have a dependence on codeine will be physiologically dependent on the drug. They will also compulsively seek its use despite the incurrence of adverse consequences.
Professional long-term addiction treatment is often needed to help people surmount a codeine dependency. Just Believe Detox features a medically-assisted detox program that helps individuals withdraw from drugs and alcohol as safely and comfortably as possible. Just Believe Recovery is a specialized rehab that employs highly-skilled medical professionals trained to assist people in overcoming substance use disorders, including those related to opiates and opioids.
Our programs are comprehensive and tailored to each individual’s needs and goals. They feature services intended to help those who need it most achieve the best outcomes, including psychotherapy, counseling, peer group support, aftercare planning, and more.
If you or a loved one is abusing Lean, we urge you to seek as soon as possible before it’s too late. Contact us today and find out how we help people break free from the vicious cycle of addiction for life!