You might’ve heard of the highly addictive substance called lean in famous hip hop songs, like Lil Wayne’s “Me and My Drank.” But what exactly is it, and how many people suffer from lean drug addiction?
Here, we’ll answer all of your questions and discuss the long-term health problems that come with lean drug abuse.
What Is Lean?
Lean is a highly addictive drug that people drink to get high. Users make lean by combining codeine cough syrup or other cough and cold medicine, soda, candy, and occasionally alcohol. The “high” effect of lean comes from abusing codeine, which is the active ingredient in cough syrup.
Sometimes, lean consists of both codeine and promethazine, an over-the-counter allergy treatment. Today, many people use lean because the ingredients, in the right contexts, are legal and easy to buy. Additionally, users add candy like Jolly Ranchers to make the drink taste sweet.
Lean might be more commonly known as “purple drank” and “sizzurp.” Because codeine is the active ingredient in the drink, it creates a loose, relaxed feeling in those who drink lean.
Lean Drug Use in Popular Culture
The act of drinking lean has been around since the 90s, and it has become more popular through the hip hop scene. Popular modern rappers and musicians often sing about this mysterious purple drank and lean drug. Artists like Justin Bieber, Bow Wow, and the late Mac Miller have spoken out about drinking lean as well as its addictive nature.
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Rapper Lil Wayne idolizes lean, aka purple drank/sizzurp, in his song “Me and My Drank.” However, health professionals believe that his addiction to lean caused him to be hospitalized for seizures and further medical complications.
A lot of people think lean is most frequently used in the celebrity hip hop scene, partly because of the way these celebrities display their own use of it. But studies show that many different demographics have either tried or struggled with addiction to lean before.
Perhaps more surprisingly, this research also shows that a high number of people who haven’t used it are still willing to try, despite the risks.
What Is the Effect of Lean on Your Nervous System?
Since lean uses codeine drugs to create the feeling of a high, it has a major effect on your nervous system. Unfortunately, some of those side effects could be life-threatening.
Codeine is a narcotic drug found in opioids and other pain relievers. Doctors commonly prescribe medications that use codeine for people experiencing cold symptoms because it reduces coughing.
Though codeine—when prescribed and taken safely—is legal and can be helpful to relieve pain, it is also highly addictive. This is because its effect impacts your entire central nervous system. The more you take medications with codeine in them, the higher the chance of addiction.
Even if you believe you are not dependent on codeine, it’s important to keep in touch with your primary care physician when it’s time to ween off of codeine medications. Your central nervous system begins to rely on codeine to block pain and slow down the way your nervous system communicates with the rest of your body.
Many people experience physical withdrawal symptoms after using codeine, even those who are not addicted to lean or codeine in a psychological way. Common withdrawal symptoms include:
- Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea
- Muscle pain
- Sinus issues
- Rapid heartbeat
- Mood changes (irritability, anxiety, restlessness, etc.)
The discomfort of withdrawal and addictiveness of codeine multiplies when drinking lean because users typically use a high dose of codeine medications to get the desired effect.
As you saw earlier, reports claim that Lil Wayne’s addiction to lean caused him to have seizures. Furthermore, rapper Fredo Santana recently passed away from his addiction to sizzurp, which fatally affected his liver and kidneys. So, what else can the effect of lean do to your body?
Some other physical symptoms of codeine and purple drank addiction include:
- Blurred vision
- Breathing trouble
- Sexual dysfunction
- Organ damage
- Overdose and death
These aren’t even counting the mental, emotional, and behavioral impacts of drinking lean. When you are under such a high dose of codeine, especially when combined with alcohol, your judgement is going to be greatly impaired. You might find yourself making dangerous decisions, having mood swings, or even have increased mental health issues.
Signs that You Might Have an Addiction to Lean
Maybe you’ve seen purple drank in clubs or at parties. Maybe you’ve even seen your favorite artists singing about the relaxing, sedating effect of this cocktail. And maybe you’ve even tried it to see what all the fuss was about. But how do you know if you have an addiction to lean?
Here are some key questions you might ask yourself:
- Do I constantly crave it?
If you feel an uncontrollable craving for lean, this might be your body’s way of indicating addiction. This is especially true when you have withdrawal symptoms when you aren’t using lean.
- Do I need more and more to get high?
As you become more addicted to lean and other drugs, your body begins to need more of the substance to become high. If you are using so much that your body has built up a tolerance to the substance and you continue to use more to get high, you might be struggling with an addiction to lean.
- Do I use lean to cope with mental health issues?
Mental health issues and substance use go hand in hand. Oftentimes, users turn to drugs and alcohol to cope with emotional pain. Trauma, undiagnosed mental illnesses, and untreated mental health concerns usually make addiction severe because users just want to escape whatever pain they’re feeling.
Many people take advantage of lean’s sedating effect because it dulls the senses and might quiet the mind. However, using lean and other drugs or alcohol combinations to avoid addressing mental health concerns is a major sign of addiction. This is when dual-diagnosis treatment for both substance abuse and mental health becomes extremely important to increase the success of recovery.
Addiction Treatment for Lean, Drug Use, and Mental Health Problems
If you are struggling with your mental health and an addiction to lean, you’re not alone and you’re not out of hope. Addiction treatment is possible and might be exactly what you need to get your life back on track.
At the Blackberry Center in St. Cloud, Florida, we have seen firsthand the effects that using lean (or purple drank/sizzurp) can have on your body, mental health, and your ability to live normally from day to day.
We provide a calming, relaxed setting for you to find peace in recovery, even through all of the struggles. Our drug rehab programs are uniquely designed for you to get the most out of your time in treatment, and for you to build skills you need to continue recovery in the future.
Nestled in a tranquil setting just outside of Orlando, in Central Florida, our mental health facility provides patients with a safe place to reflect, reset and heal.