Abuse of Cough Medications with Codeine

Prescription cough medications are abused by a different crowd. Some people prefer a drink that contains prescription cough medicine with codeine or a combination of codeine and the antihistamine promethazine.


In this case, the cold medication is mixed with a soft drink. Sprite or Mountain Dew are preferred. Jolly Rancher candies are often added to give the drink color and flavor. This practice became popular in the American South, particularly among rappers, hip-hop musician and audiences and has spread out from that limited area as it has become better known. Several rappers feature the drug combination in music videos, leading to its wider use.

These mixtures are called Purple Drank, Drank, Barre Oil, Southern Lean, Lean, Purp, Purple Jelly, Texas Tea, Purple Sprite, Syrup or Sizzurp. The custom is to serve the drink iced, in a styrofoam cup.

In some areas, the mixture is modified to contain over-the-counter cough medication and vodka.

This combination creates effects such as:

  • Constricted pupils that do not respond well to light
  • Rough, raspy voice
  • Slow, slurred speech
  • Uncontrolled eye movement
  • Droopy eyes
  • Slowed heart rate
  • Drowsiness
  • Loss of balance
  • Loss of coordination
  • Paleness
  • Constipation
  • Urinary tract infection
  • Dental problems
  • Tremors
  • Insomnia
  • Catatonia
  • Hysteria
  • Addiction

Heavy use of the drug can result in hallucinations and possibly seizures. As codeine is an opiate, it is possible to overdose on Purple Drank. If the drink is abused along with other drugs, the possibility is even greater. This kind of overdose can result in death.

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