What comprises Lean Liquid or Purple Drank?

Lean Liquid first appeared in popular culture during the 70s and 80s, mainly in Texas, moving to other southern states. Sadly, many rap, hip-hop, and athletes have fallen prey to this lethal combination of drugs. Generally, it contains codeine, promethazine (an antihistamine), alcohol, and cough syrup containing dextromethorphan and soda, such as Sprite. Like codeine, promethazine relieves pain after surgery and many other legitimate uses when prescribed by a doctor for a specific need. These two drugs work as central nervous system depressants. The terms opioids and narcotics come from the Greek word for stupor, “it referred to a variety of substances that dulled the senses and relieved pain.”

Those who sing its praises do so because of the tranquilizing effects. The Department of Justice found the impact on users of Purple Drank was “consistent with the abuse characteristic of other opioids….” Lean liquid or Texas Tea (names that describe this combination) seems popular among teens and young adults. People believe the drink is harmless because some ingredients can be found in OTC. However alluring this drink may appear, it is possible to overdose from drinking Lean liquid. Its name is derived from the tendency to lean while walking. But it is also a metaphor for the experience of leaning into the moment or the music. This feeling of slowing things down, leaning into the moment, results from codeine, an opioid.

As codeine breaks down in the body converts into morphine (a more potent opioid).

Side Effects of Lean Liquid

  • Cold sweats
  • Clay-colored stools
  • Confusion
  • Diarrhea
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Headache
  • Painful urination
  • Shakiness
  • Sedation
  • Coma
  • Tooth decay

These are just a few of the more common side effects. If the user combines anti-psychotic drugs with Lean liquid, there is a condition known as Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, which can be life-threatening. This condition results from an adverse drug reaction, including unstable blood pressure and high fever. Additionally, taking Purple Drank or Lean liquid over time can lower one’s white blood cell count. White blood cells are needed to fight off infections in the body. Those who drink the combination regularly are at risk of experiencing seizures.

The amount of codeine ingested can be massive because of its sweet taste. Users who imbibe this lethal drink are just as likely to suffer addiction as those who shoot heroin. Codeine is a Scheduled II controlled substance. Because it has gotten more expensive, many users have turned to cough syrups with Dextromethorphan or DXM. DXM is a drug that is considered an antitussive. It “decreases activity in the part of the brain that causes coughing.” DXM is known as the poor man’s PCP. DXM can, like PCP, cause hallucinations and out-of-body sensations. It is a synthetically produced drug available in over 140 over-the-counter cough and cold preparations chemically related to codeine.

Side Effects of DXM

  • Hot flashes
  • Nausea, vomiting, and dizziness
  • Lack of coordination
  • Panic attacks or seizures
  • Impaired judgment
  • Sweating
  • Lethargy or drowsiness—or hyperactivity
  • Slurred speech
  • High blood pressure
  • Rapid eye movement
  • Rash
  • Racing or pounding heartbeat
  • Paranoia and hallucinations

Lean liquid was first found in black neighborhoods of Texas related to rap and hip-hop. But later, the demographics changed, and young adults of the general population began using this lethal drink. Additionally, teens, influenced by hip-hop culture, believed it was acceptable to indulge in purple drank. Additionally, it is cheaper to use DXM than codeine (and easier to obtain) though the high is a bit different. More people experience hallucinogenic effects when using DXM compared to codeine and promethazine. Sometimes, people will combine codeine or DXM, or promethazine with alcohol. Because all these drugs impact the central nervous system, combining them with alcohol (a depressant) increases the risk of a fatal overdose.

While the government took OTC cough medicines with codeine off the market in 2014, it is still available on the black market, and the combination of promethazine and codeine in cough syrup is still available with a prescription. In a 2018 study on EDM party attendees in New York and Brooklyn clubs, researchers found a predisposition to use Lean liquid if offered, but use was not as high as ecstasy use. The users were predominantly male and college-educated. Many did not know that the Lean liquid contains codeine, nor did they know the dangers of using it with other drugs.

Withdrawal Symptoms

After using Lean liquid for a period, the body grows accustomed to receiving the drug. As with other drugs, the brain requires the substance to maintain stasis. Stasis is the body’s way of achieving equilibrium or balance. Drugs change how the brain functions, usually altering the way the brain sends and receives messages. When a person stops using Lean liquid, the body goes into an intense withdrawal phase because there is a disruption to the flow of the drug to the brain.

Depending upon the length of use, the amount used, the health of the person, the age, and other drugs used in combination with Lean liquid, the symptoms can vary. Generally, withdrawing from codeine is uncomfortable. Bodily aches and pains, depression, nausea, irritability, blood pressure and heart rate changes, diarrhea, chills, and sweating are typically experienced. Stopping the use of Lean Liquid can cause severe stomach pain during withdrawal. Many people have described the intensity of the pain as a reason to use it again. This pain is known as opioid-induced hyperalgesia.

Treatment Works

Because of the severity of the addiction related to Lean Liquid, one must seek medical help to withdraw from the drug safely. Multiple drugs in combination with Lean liquid can make withdrawal dangerous. A licensed detox center with licensed, trained medical and clinical staff is essential. Experts in addiction medicine need to oversee the process of withdrawal. Detox is a cleansing process to rid the body of toxins from the drugs. The process allows the brain messaging process to return to normal. Without supervision and medical assistance, one will likely stop the detox process and seek to use the drug. Detox is the first step in preparing to enter substance abuse treatment. It is never a substitute for treatment.

Clients should immediately enter treatment following the completion of detox. In treatment, the client will receive a variety of therapies and medications (if needed) to help him/her/them overcome the patterns of addiction. With help, it is possible to break the cycle of addiction (using, stopping, using, stopping).

If you or a loved one is suffering from the pain of addiction, call now and speak with one of our staff. We can answer all your questions and help you determine the best path forward.