What Is Lean (Drug?)

Lean, also known as “purple drank,” “sizzurp,” or “dirty sprite,” is a recreational drug mixture that has gained notoriety in popular culture, particularly within the rap and hip-hop communities. This concoction, which combines prescription-grade cough syrup with soft drinks and sometimes hard candies, is often glamorized for its sedative and euphoric effects. However, the reality of this drug’s impact on its users is far from glamorous, encompassing a range of serious health risks and potential for addiction. Profound Treatment off

What is Lean?

Lean is primarily made from a cough syrup that contains the active ingredients promethazine, an antihistamine, and codeine, an opioid. When mixed with carbonated beverages or, in some recipes, hard candies, it creates a sweet-tasting concoction that masks the powerful effects of its drug components.\

The origins of Lean trace back to the 1960s in the Houston, Texas, music scene, where blues musicians would mix Robitussin with beer. However, the modern concoction, as we know it, gained popularity in the early 1990s within the hip-hop community in the Southern United States.

How is Lean Made?

Lean’s primary ingredients include prescription cough syrup containing promethazine hydrochloride and codeine, a soft drink (usually Sprite or Mountain Dew), and ice. Sometimes, users add hard candies, like Jolly Ranchers, to enhance the flavor or other variants, like alcohol. The cough syrup’s ingredients are most notable regarding its potential for abuse.


Promethazine is an antihistamine primarily used to treat allergy symptoms, such as itching, runny nose, and sneezing. It also possesses sedative properties, making it effective in preventing nausea and vomiting. In the context of Lean, promethazine contributes to the drink’s sedative effects, enhancing its appeal to users seeking relaxation and euphoria.


Codeine, an opiate, is employed medically to treat mild to moderate pain and as a cough suppressant. It acts on the brain to decrease the urge to cough, offering relief from coughing fits. However, codeine can produce feelings of relaxation and euphoria, particularly when consumed in larger quantities than prescribed. This aspect of codeine’s effect is what contributes to Lean’s recreational use.

The combination of these two drugs in a beverage made from sweet soft drinks and ice, often enhanced with fruity-flavored candies, creates a palatable and addictive mixture. While the soft drink and candies mask the medicinal taste, they do not diminish the potency of the drugs involved. The sedative effects of promethazine, combined with the euphoric sensations from codeine, create a potentially dangerous allure, leading to misuse, abuse, and addiction.

The Effects of Lean on the Body

Lean’s impact on the body varies from immediate, short-term effects to more severe, long-term health risks. Here’s a quick overview for easy understanding:

Initial Effects

  • Euphoria: Users feel a sense of happiness, warmth, and decreased anxiety.
  • Physical Changes: Includes drowsiness, lethargy, slower heart rate, and respiratory depression.
  • Causes: These effects are due to codeine’s opioid properties and promethazine’s sedative actions.

Mental and Emotional Impact

  • Judgment: Impaired decision-making abilities.
  • Disorientation: Feeling lost or confused, with possible extreme mood swings.
  • Hallucinations: Visual or auditory illusions that can lead to risky behavior.

Long-term Health Risks

  • Liver Damage: Chronic use affects the body’s ability to detoxify.
  • Dental Issues: High sugar content can cause tooth decay and other oral problems.
  • Weight Gain and Constipation: Linked to the mixture’s high caloric content and the opioid effects of codeine.
  • Urinary Tract Infections (UTIs): Can become more frequent with prolonged use.

Understanding these effects is crucial for recognizing the risks associated with Lean consumption and the importance of addressing any substance use early.

What Does Addiction and Dependence Look Like?

The path to addiction can begin innocuously, with regular consumption of Lean gradually leading the body to develop a tolerance. This tolerance necessitates increasingly higher doses of the drug to achieve the initially desired effects of euphoria and relaxation. Over time, this escalates into a physical and psychological dependence on the promethazine-codeine mixture, where the user finds it challenging to function normally without it.

Dependency on Lean is characterized by a compulsive need to continue using the drug despite being aware of the adverse effects it has on one’s health and life. Addiction can manifest in various detrimental ways, impacting not only the physical health of the individual but also their mental well-being, relationships, and ability to fulfill responsibilities at work or school. 

Indicators of Addiction to Lean

If you have concerns about possible lean addiction or dependence for yourself or someone close to you, here are a few signs you can watch out for that may indicate a larger issue is present:

  • Frequent drowsiness or lethargy
  • Unexplained mood swings or irritability
  • Sudden weight gain or loss
  • Persistent cough or respiratory issues
  • Dental problems, such as tooth decay
  • Constipation or other digestive issues
  • Changes in social behavior or withdrawal from friends and family
  • Financial problems or unusual spending habits
  • Neglect of responsibilities at work, school, or home
  • Increased secrecy or lying about activities
  • Possession of cough syrup without a medical reason
  • Using cough syrup in larger amounts or over a longer period than intended
  • Unsuccessful attempts to cut down or control cough syrup use
  • Spending a lot of time obtaining, using, or recovering from the effects of cough syrup
  • Cravings or a strong desire to use cough syrup
  • Continued use despite knowing the harmful consequences

Concerned about your habits with alcohol or substance use? Take this short “Am I An Addict?” quiz to find out if your behaviors are cause for concern.

Promethazine-Codeine Withdrawal Symptoms

The process of withdrawal from Lean emphasizes the drug’s potent addictive properties. Individuals attempting to quit may face a daunting array of withdrawal symptoms that can range from uncomfortable to life-threatening. These symptoms are the body’s response to the absence of the substances it has become dependent on, both codeine and the antihistamine promethazine. Since Lean contains an opiate, typical opioid withdrawal symptoms can be expected as well. Common symptoms include:

  • Severe cravings
  • Anxiety and a profound sense of discomfort or unease
  • Nausea and difficulty keeping food down
  • Tremors
  • Irritability
  • Mood swings
  • Depression
  • Insomnia
  • Muscle aches and pains
  • Seizures, in severe cases

How Long Do Withdrawal Symptoms Last?

The severity and duration of withdrawal symptoms can vary significantly among individuals, influenced by factors such as the length of time Lean was used, the quantities consumed, and the user’s overall health. 

Withdrawal from Lean, especially after prolonged use, can be an arduous process that is typically best approached with medical supervision and support. For those struggling with a dependence on Lean, seeking professional help ensures individuals have the resources and support necessary to navigate the complexities of withdrawal and recovery.

If you or someone you know is in need of support with medically supervised detox from opioids in the Los Angeles area, contact Profound Treatment today to learn more about our premier drug and alcohol detox program in Southern California. Our team is here to support you every step of the way.

Call 310-929-9546

Profound Treatment Can Help

At Profound Treatment in Woodland Hills, Los Angeles, we understand the complexity of overcoming addiction, offering a sanctuary for healing that combines luxury with cutting-edge care. With multiple locations for drug and alcohol rehab throughout the city, our facilities and homes offer a serene environment where privacy, comfort, and personalized treatment plans pave the way for a profound transformation. 

Ready to embark on your journey to recovery from addiction alongside trauma and co-occurring mental health conditions? Contact Profound Treatment in Los Angeles today, and let us help you find your path to a healthier, happier life.

Call 310-929-9546

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