Codeine has been widely misused for decades. When used as directed, codeine is a highly effective pain-relieving medication. When misused or abused, it can create a “high” sought by many who struggle with an addiction to prescription opioids. Codeine is the main ingredient in lean, making it a new and popular pop culture drink.
For those who have never hear of lean, a quick search online will provide several references to lean and some of its more popular celebrity encounters. Celebrities such as Bow Wow, Mac Miller, 2 Chainz, Lil Wayne, and Justin Bieber have all referenced lean either in lyric or as a substance that has led to addiction, hospitalization, and life-threatening consequences. Also, several high-profile athletes have experienced either suspensions or hospitalizations from lean use.
So, what exactly is lean?
What is Lean?
Purple drank, sizzurp, barre, Texas tea, lean-all names for the same mixture of cough syrup, soda, hard candy, and, sometimes, alcohol. The drink itself originated in Houston, Texas (hence, the Texas Tea moniker) and is often served in a white Styrofoam cup. The term lean is often considered a reference to the position you stand in after drinking it. The effects are generally powerful enough, so one must “lean” in order to maintain their balance.
Lean began to gain popularity in current news and social media in the late 90s, as people started dying or having seizures after using it. However, the substance seems to have been popular since the 70s or 80s.
The most common ingredients in lean are prescription cough syrup that contains codeine and the antihistamine promethazine. Promethazine is used to treat various conditions, including allergies, motion sickness, nausea, and vomiting. It is also used as a pain reliever after surgical procedures and as a sleep aid before and after surgery. The cough syrup is mixed with soda and sometimes alcohol. In many cases, people also add hard candy, such as Jolly Ranchers, to enhance sweetness.
When prescription cough syrup containing both ingredients is unavailable, over-the-counter (OTC) cough medications containing dextromethorphan (DXM) are used. Because over-the-counter cough medications no longer contain alcohol, alcohol is added to this version.
Other versions of lean or purple drank include a mixture of codeine tablets dissolved on over-the-counter cough syrup and soda. Although there is no specific ingredient mixture, most combinations involve doses of codeine.
A Word About Legality
Reviewing the list of ingredients might lead one to ask, “is it legal?” Unfortunately, the answer to this question is not direct. Some of the ingredients, such as soda, candy, alcohol, and over-the-counter cough medicine, are clearly legal to purchase and use, for the most part. In some states, cough medications containing DXM are not available without a prescription.
Codeine, on the other hand, is a different story. Again, with a prescription, codeine is perfectly legal to possess and use. However, codeine is classified by The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) as a Schedule II controlled substance on its own. Although its potency is minimally reduced when mixed with other substances, it remains a potent and powerful drug with a high risk of misuse and abuse. Also, it is illegal to distribute (sell) codeine without a license.
The Effects of Lean on the Body
Lean contains the opioid codeine, and therefore, the effects of lean on the body mimic those of codeine. When someone drinks lean, they experience a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. Codeine works by depressing the actions of the receptors in your body and brain. It bonds to the opioid receptors in the brain to block the ability of those neurons to identify and process pain signals. Codeine is also a depressant, meaning it slows down processes in the body. In addition to slowing the activity of pain receptors, it also slows other vital body functions, including breathing, heart rate, and blood pressure. Prolonged use or overuse of codeine and codeine-containing products can lead to dangerous complications.
Although users typically enjoy and seek out the euphoric effects of lean, the drink can produce several other less than desirable effects. Some of the most common include loss of coordination, elevated body temperature, nausea and vomiting, severe constipation, dizziness, respiratory and heart rate depression, hallucinations, seizures, and loss of consciousness. When mixed with other drugs, including alcohol, the side effects of lean use could result in dangerous, life-threatening emergencies.
It can be dangerous to combine alcohol with codeine or DXM. Although the effects seemed like a surefire way to increase your “high,” the combined effects of alcohol with many other drugs can be dangerous, period alcohol is also a depressant. This means when combined with codeine or other drugs that act upon the body to this little body functions, a dangerous level of suppression can result. Combining alcohol with lean can lead to delayed motor skills, brain fog, poor judgment, difficulty breathing, and a dangerously reduced heart rate.
Additionally, your chances of overdosing are significantly higher when alcohol is combined with codeine or DXM. The most significant potential side effect of mixing alcohol (even a small amount) with cough syrup containing codeine is respiratory depression. Prolonged slowed breathing reduces the amount of oxygen to your brain. This can lead to systemic (all over the body) organ damaged, coma, and death.
Long-term Effects of Lean
Although many of the short-term effects of lean use are referenced above, it is essential to note that using lean has many long-term effects as well.
Many cough syrups, including over-the-counter costs and cold medications, have been linked to liver damage when misused or when more than the recommended dose is used. Additionally, consuming alcohol while taking drugs that contain acetaminophen, such as cough medications, is not recommended. It is important to note that lean uses far more than the recommended dosage of cough medication. High amounts of acetaminophen, as would be found in lean, prevent your liver from adequately metabolizing substances, leading to excessive amounts of chemicals in your liver. According to documentation from the Food and Drug Administration, prescription and over-the-counter drugs are a leading cause of sudden liver failure. When used individually, alcohol and cocaine can also cause liver damage when misused.
Lean contains ingredients that are highly addictive and habit-forming. This means prolonged or chronic consumption of lean can cause tolerance and dependence. As with other opioid drugs, the required dosage you need to consume to achieve the same “high” one drink used to provide will continue to increase. With increased tolerance comes an increased risk for long-term side effects and overdose. In many cases, the only way to successfully detox from opioid products, including lean, is to begin your journey to sobriety in a comprehensive detox program at an addiction treatment facility like the hills in Los Angeles, where a trained team of medical professionals can help you safely and successfully detox before beginning a comprehensive addiction treatment program.
Can You Get Addicted to Lean?
Absolutely. With the exception of soda and hard candy, every ingredient used to make lean is potentially addictive or highly addictive. Each ingredient, including codeine and alcohol, affects how your body produces delete. Dopamine is a naturally occurring chemical in the body responsible for feelings of joy and pleasure. In the absence of drugs or alcohol, dopamine is released into the body based on daily events that produce happiness. When you become dependent on or addicted to a substance, your body becomes unable to release dopamine without it. When you try to stop or reduce use, you will experience withdrawal.
Knowing the signs of lean addiction and withdrawal is crucial so you or a loved one can seek immediate help at The Hills to get sober in a safe and supported environment. Common signs of lean addiction mimic those of other addictive substances, including needing higher doses to get high, using lean to cope with stress, experiencing withdrawal when not using, cravings when not using, and the inability to stop using even though you are aware it is impacting your physical, psychological, and behavioral health.
Getting Help for Lean Addiction
Lean addiction is dangerous and chronic, and long-term use can lead to lasting and life-threatening complications. If you are addicted to lean, it is vital to seek help as it could save your life. It is important to keep in mind that the main ingredient in lean is an opioid drug (codeine) which is highly addictive. If you are ready to overcome an addiction to lean, seeking treatment at a skilled addiction treatment center like The Hills provides the best opportunity for achieving your treatment goals. It is also essential to ensure the treatment program you choose is equipped to manage the challenges associated with opioid detox and treatment.
When you begin treatment for lean addiction, withdrawal symptoms are likely. Common withdrawal symptoms include anxiety, agitation, body aches, difficulty sleeping, sweating, gastric disturbances, nausea, and vomiting. Other, more severe symptoms can include delirium tremens (DTs), irregular respirations, irregular heartbeat, and seizures. The more severe symptoms related to opioid withdrawal make detoxing in a safe environment, including medically assisted detox, essential to your health and safety. Withdrawing without supervision and support can lead to relapse or potentially fatal medical emergencies.
If you or a loved one are ready to overcome an addiction to lean, contact the admissions team at our luxury rehab today. Our treatment team will work with you to design a comprehensive treatment plan based on evidence-based traditional therapies combined with holistic alternative therapy models. Each treatment program at The Hills is designed around the unique needs of the individual and their specific treatment goals. Don’t wait another day to start your journey to a future free of addiction. Contact us today.