Lean Drink aka Purple Drank: Deadly Effects, Risks, and Treatment

As most people understand, there is a drug abuse crisis going on in the United States today. Many individuals both young and old are using dangerous drugs and experiencing serious side effects, such as dependence, addiction, overdose, and death. In some cases, people are even abusing certain substances that are easier to obtain, thinking they are not as dangerous. The truth is, however, children and teens are often the ones most affected by this type of substance abuse, and many easily obtainable drugs are just as dangerous as substances like heroin and methamphetamine. One of these highly addictive, dangerous substances is the drug known as Lean Drink also known as Purple Drank. It is considered addictive because of the opioid component, and it became popular in Houston in the 1990s.

What Is Lean Drink?

Lean is one of the many names for the combination of prescription-strength, codeine-based cough syrup and other liquids that mask its taste. Often, young people mix this cough suppressant with candy like jolly rancher and/or soda to make it sweeter and more palatable (National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens). In other cases, the drug is mixed with alcohol as well.

The idea for the drug was born out of urban and hip-hop culture, and its use can be traced back as far as the 1960s, especially to southern areas like Houston, Texas (Department of Justice). The drug had another resurgence in the 90s, but its use has skyrocketed in the past several years, mostly because of the influence of celebrities who use and claim to use it.

The rapper Lil Wayne is known for his use of the substance, and not long ago, he was admitted to the ICU because of an overdose on lean. Other celebrities known for their use of the drug include Soulja Boy, who posted about lean on Instagram, Rob Kardashian, and Justin Bieber. A study from 2018 concluded that that the use of the substance has become prevalent on Instagram and that this normalization is causing more and more people (especially teens and children) to think the concept is cool as well as harmless.

Street Names for Codeine Based Drug Lean

Lean drink has many street names. The name lean comes from the fact that it makes drinkers lean to the side after getting extremely inebriated. Another common nickname for the drug is purple drank, which comes from the purple color of the codeine cough syrup, especially when it is mixed with light-colored soda.


The concoction is also known as sizzurp (a nod to its hip-hop origins) and Texas tea (Department of Justice). Other, less common street names include


  • Sip-sip oil
  • Player potion
  • Barre
  • Purp
  • Purple stuff
  • Purple lean
  • Purple drank
  • Purple jelly
  • Dirty Sprite
  • Codeine Dream


Who Uses Lean?

As previously stated, certain celebrities are well-known for their abuse of purple drank. The substance has cemented itself in hip-hop culture as an easy and trendy way to get inebriated. However, most of the use of lean drink across the country occur in the younger generations, usually in those who are not even out of high school.

The late Hip-Hop artist DJ Screw became infamously tied with it as he believed the sizzurp concoction improved his music. Purple Drank is highly dangerous and has either killed or hospitalized several celebrities with equally entertaining status like Pimp C, Mac Miller, and Lil’ Wayne (treated in the ICU). Also, In recent years, purple drank has been celebrated among singers, rappers and professional athletes like Soulja Boy, Justin Bieber, and JaMarcus Russell.

The substance is easily found. Many parents keep it in their medicine cabinets after receiving a prescription to treat an illness. This leads to a highly dangerous problem: lean is considered cool, and it is extremely easy to obtain and make. Also, many young people do not understand the severity of its effects.

Lean Drink Abused by Millennials


In 2014, the Drug Enforcement Agent accepted that one of every 10 adolescents take codeine cough syrups to get high. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSHA) detailed in 2008; that 3 million millennials, more often than not between the ages of 12 and 25, had utilized cough or cold medications to get high this number incorporated those utilizing codeine-based cough syrup and over-the-counter DXM drugs.

Symptoms, Side Effects, and Health Risks of Lean Drink


Lean Purple Drank contains codeine cough syrup, which means, like heroin and oxycodone, the drug has opioid-based properties. Drinking sizzurp can cause many of the same effects as abusing codeine on its own.

According to NIDA, codeine falls under the category of prescription opioids and is one of the most commonly abuse drugs. When a person drinks codeine cough syrup, they can become extremely drowsy, dizzy, nauseous, and experience memory loss. Although this may feel similar to alcohol abuse, it can create much stronger effects, especially in those who are not accustomed to the drug. Even short-term use can cause serious problems like seizures, hallucinations, and overdose leading to coma, impaired breathing, and death. This is extremely similar to the overdose syndrome associated with heroin and other opioids.

Long-term use of the substance can also be addictive, just like with regular opioid abuse. People often become dependent on the substance, needing it to stave off intense and painful withdrawal symptoms, and they can also experience a growing tolerance for lean, which means they’ll have to drink more and more to experience the same effects they once did.

This is a serious problem, as many teens and young people abuse sizzurp partly because they think the drug cannot harm them. They think, because it can be purchased in a pharmacy and because it is only cough syrup, that it is not dangerous or addictive. Other types of cough syrup that do not contain codeine can still cause problematic effects if abused, but this particular type of medicine is extremely threatening. Contrary to popular belief, lean can be deadly.

High Risk of Lean Purple Drank Fatal Overdose

Purple Drank abuse could lead to a high risk of fatal overdose because the dirty sprite concoction depresses the central nervous system and can slow or stop the heart and lungs. One survivor, Joe Gormon had suffered from a Lean Overdose back on Nov 2, 2016. He recalls after drinking the purple opiate concoction to get high, Joe Gorman spent 40 days in a coma at Staten Island University Hospital. More than two years later, he’s still recovering from its effects.

Treating Lean Addiction

Just like with other opioids, people who become addicted to lean will need professional treatment. It is extremely hard to stop abusing the drug on your own, especially because it is highly available and because the withdrawal symptoms are extremely painful and uncomfortable. Instead of trying to go through the experience on your own, it is much better to seek help.

Lean addiction treatment is much like opioid addiction treatment in that patients are weaned off their dependence on the drug slowly, and medications are used to minimize withdrawal symptoms. After this program, often called medical detox, patients transition into rehab where they learn coping skills that will help them avoid returning to drug abuse. Adolescents can gain help and recover with professional treatment as well. No matter what your situation, it isn’t too late to seek help and to begin your life anew.Call 1-866-819-7187 today. We will help you put an end to your lean drink abuse. Contact us with any questions about the program and one of our helpful staff members will provide you with the answers you need to get better.