Lean: A Codeine Cocktail

codeine cocktail

Opioids. The term probably makes you think of pills and needles, heroin, Oxycontin, Vicodin, morphine, the list goes on. But Codeine (another variation of opiate) is prescribed in liquid form as cough syrup, meaning that patients will drink it as their manner of consumption. As addiction continues to grow, methods and variations of drugs and their administration have been stretched to the limits. Now-a-days, codeine is used as a base to make a drug cocktail know as “lean”.

What else is lean made of? How does it affect the user? The blog below will serve to illustrate the dangers of lean and how it came to appeal to the modern generation.

What is Lean?

purple drankLean, purple drank, sizzurp, and dirty sprite are the street names given to this codeine cocktail. Codeine syrup is the main ingredient, and it is usually mixed with Sprite and Jolly Rancher candies in double-stacked styrofoam cups. The purpose of this “double cup”, a term that has become popular in rap music, is to keep the lean cold and prevent the purple coloring from leaking through the pores in the styrofoam.

Drinking lean became popular in the 1990s, in large part due to its presence throughout rap and hip-hop culture. Houston rappers Pimp C and DJ Screw were the originators of “chopped and screwed” music, a technique where hip-hop songs are remixed and the tempo is slowed to around 60 beats per minute. This slower rhythm compliments the mellow, sedative effects of lean. As Houston’s hip-hop scene began to grow, so did the use of the drug. Finally, when nationally recognized rapper and lean enthusiast, Lil Wayne, rose to fame, so did the popularity of lean.


Overconsumption of lean will cause users to do exactly that: lean. Upon consumption, your body will enter a state of moderate sedation. This leads to the inability to properly control motor functions. Oftentimes people will drink lean along with alcohol at parties, which is a significantly dangerous combination. On its own, lean can cause respiratory depression as it is already potent in that sense: it can disrupt the body’s internal functions, slowing breathing and heart rate to the point of death. Paired with alcohol and other substances, overdose is even more likely.

The high from lean causes users to experience:

  • Slowed and mellow sensations
  • A dissociative sense of euphoria
  • Drowsiness
  • Lethargy
  • Physical impairment
  • Slurred speech

The symptoms listed above are all the short-term/immediate result of drinking lean. Because codeine is an opioid, abusing the drug results in side effects similar to those of other opiates. Codeine is very much addictive and withdrawal symptoms are just as present as they would be with any other drug. Those can include:

  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Seizures
  • Abnormal heart rate

These symptoms tend to worsen with continued use, and even the original enthusiasts suffered from its effects. In 2012, Lil Wayne began having seizures as a result of long-term lean abuse. In 2000, DJ Screw died of an overdose. People are often surprised by how severe the effects of lean abuse can be. This, in part, could be a result of Codeine’s role in popular culture. Artists in the music industry don’t generally brag about using heroin, or meth, or any other stereotypical “hard drug” that is heavily stigmatized. But the consumption of alcohol, marijuana, and lean are often incorporated in lyrics and music videos, giving the impression that they are acceptable and seemingly harmless.

Treating Lean Addiction

Codeine addiction, along with any other drug addiction, is very serious and very real. Don’t let musical artists and popular culture convince you otherwise: recreational use of any substance has addictive potential. An opiate in liquid form should not be treated any differently.

Because the withdrawals of lean can become quite severe, we recommend that individuals go through an inpatient detox program so that their symptoms can be monitored and managed accordingly. Arizona Addiction Recovery Center offers an in-depth detoxification process, with medical professionals by your side every step of the way. If you or anyone you know seems to be developing an addiction to lean, reach out today. Treating the problem before it reaches addictive heights is the best way to guarantee a full recovery. The AARC staff is always here to lend a helping hand.