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Why Party Drugs Aren’t All Fun And Games

Opioids are one of the most insidious drug epidemics to ever run rampant in our country. However, they haven’t been considered much of a “party drug” until recently. An addictive and party-friendly form of opiates called “lean” is made with soda, hard candy, and codeine cough syrup.

What is Lean Drug?

Lean is an illegal drink made with codeine cough syrup, mixed in soda and hard candy to sweeten and flavor the mix. The cough syrup features codeine, a commonly abused opiate sourced from the opium poppy. If this sounds familiar, that’s because the poppy is the source of every natural opiate.

Codeine, however, is one of the weaker potential opiates. While it may be difficult to overdose in many situations, it is also highly addictive and damaging to the systems of the body. It is possible and very likely that people who abuse drugs like lean.

There are many different terms for Lean, but some of the most popular include sizzurp, purple drank, and Dirty Sprite. However, no matter what they call it now, it is incredibly popular in the party scene. Starting in Houston in the ‘80s, a significant portion of artists started the trend by mixing Robitussin with various alcohols.

This progressed until popular rappers began writing songs about lean, making it somewhat of a staple in southern rap culture. Unfortunately, it has been the cause of many deaths, particularly among hip-hop entertainers and young rap enthusiasts. Lean is named after the inability of its users to stand straight after consuming.

Side Effects and Dangers of Taking Lean Drug

The effects of taking lean can vary slightly from person to person, but generally, they will be similar to other opioids, such as morphine, heroin, and oxycodone. Once the individual consumes the lean, they will often be able to feel the effects within a half-hour. In some cases, the amount of codeine syrup used can be up to 25 times the recommended dosage, leading to a much shorter onset of the effects. The user can expect the effects to peak about 1 to 2 hours after consumption and to last for 4-6 hours.

Users will feel a strong feeling of euphoria and potential dizziness. Additional side effects and dangers of taking lean can include depressed heart rate, respiratory depression, constipation, vision impairment, weight gain, dental decay, UTIs, memory loss, hallucinations, and seizures in those at risk. This can lead to a very unpleasant situation or experience for anyone who experiences these in any severity.

Many of those who use lean greatly underestimate the dangers of ingesting such amounts of codeine. Even though it may not be as prone to overdose as heroin or fentanyl, codeine can still create an incredibly strong dependence that starts with the body developing a tolerance to it. This leads the user to consume increased quantities or dosages of lean as the tolerance builds up.

Abuse and Addiction Potential of Taking Lean Drug

Since lean is made with codeine syrup and has the potential for significant tolerance build-up in its users, the body can begin to depend on codeine to help produce neurotransmitters such as dopamine. When an individual takes lean, they cause their body to become flush with dopamine, creating the euphoric effects that the addict craves.

When they stop taking the lean, however, the brain cannot simply start producing the quantities of dopamine that the body needs to function normally since it hasn’t had to do it for some time. This is what causes the onset of many withdrawal symptoms. That forces the user to continue taking lean just to feel normal in some cases.

Abusing opioids like lean can also create potentially fatal medical complications and overdose. Since lean can lead to massive doses of codeine being consumed, it becomes possible to drink too much and flood the brain with enough opioids that it cannot regulate its response or attempt to mitigate their effects.

Once this happens, the breathing rate is reduced even further than the effects of the lean would normally have, resulting in the complete shutdown of the respiratory system. This leads to the brain becoming oxygen-starved and dying within about five to six minutes. This will either lead to a permanent coma, vegetative state, or death.

How to Get Help if Addicted to Lean Drug

For those suffering from an addiction to lean, just cutting back can seem like a nearly impossible task. It can feel like this when the symptoms of withdrawal also start to take hold. The dependence that the codeine in lean creates can not only burden you or a loved one with addiction, but it can take a life too early.

The first step of getting help with a lean addiction is to reach out to a professional treatment center, where the individual seeking recovery can speak to medical and treatment professionals. In the case of opioid addiction, the detox may prove incredibly intense and even painful, so it may be in the recovering individual’s best interest to perform the detox with medical supervision in case there are any complications.

This is frequently preferred in cases where the addiction has occurred over long periods. They may even be able to use a medication that can help mitigate the withdrawal symptoms to help make detox a little smoother. The detox may also help reveal other disorders and illnesses that may be present but were essentially hidden by the abuse.

One of the best things about working with treatment professionals is that the individual will learn techniques and coping methods to help them resist cravings and triggering situations in the future. The individual can prepare by knowing how to handle situations, events, or even dates that may contribute to a relapse. This helps make their recovery stronger and longer.

If you or a loved one is struggling with an addiction to Lean, help must be sought immediately before it’s too late. So reach out today to a friendly enrollment advisor to get on the path to a healthier, more satisfying life free from the bondage of drugs immediately.


Ocean Recovery has strict sourcing guidelines and relies on peer-reviewed studies, academic research institutions, and medical associations for our references. We avoid using tertiary references as our sources. You can learn more about how we source our references by reading our editorial policy.

1. Santos-Longhurst A. What Is Lean? 9 Purple Drank FAQs. Healthline. Published October 14, 2019. Accessed July 31, 2022.

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Last medically reviewed July 31, 2022.