Dr. Sunil - Is It Bad For You? Approved by Dr. Sunil

Is Lean Bad For You?

Also Known As: promethazine w/ codeine, purple drank, sizzurp



Short answer

Yes, lean is bad for you. Lean has dangerous short-term and long-term side effects that can lead to hopeless addiction and will accelerate death, due to the risk of overdose.



Long answer

Lean goes by other street names, such as ‘purple drank’, ‘purp’, or ‘sizzurp’. This deadly concoction gets you high, at the sacrifice of your health (and perhaps your life). It is comprised of the drugs promethazine and liquid codeine (found in prescription cough syrup), which are then mixed with Sprite and a Jolly rancher to cover the medicinal taste and add flavor. It derives its purple color from the cough syrup and provides the user with feelings of euphoria.

For many years ‘gangster rap’ artists have glorified ‘purple drank’  in the lyrics of rap/hip-hop music. This is especially true for rappers from Houston, Texas. Among those performers were Pimp C and DJ Screw, whom both died from hypoventilation, as a result of acute drug toxicity. Other celebrities like Lil Wayne have been hospitalized with overdoses, resulting in seizures. There are many reasons why an overdose of this drink might have the side effect of death. Codeine is an opiate and behaves in the body similarly to heroin and morphine. It is relatively harmless---when taken as directed, under a doctor’s prescription. However, some people experience negative reactions or allergic responses with codeine. You should always monitor your body’s response to any new medication (especially a controlled substance) to ensure the medication is a good fit for your body.

Promethazine is a prescription anti-nausea medication, sold under the brand name Phenergan. Promethazine and codeine are both central nervous system (CNS) depressants, which slow breathing and other body functions. Doctors occasionally prescribe these two medications in unison, with extreme caution—in small amounts. It is essential to always keep in mind that street drugs can be laced with additional unknown substances and are often combined with other drugs or alcohol by the user—resulting in an unpredictable response.

Lean can cause neuroleptic malignant syndrome (NMS), a neurological condition that can be fatal. Other symptoms of consuming lean include hyperthermia, sweating, increased heart rate, confusion, stiff muscles, seizures, and clouded thinking. The effects are complicated by previous breathing conditions, such as asthma or sleep apnea.

Although the popularity of lean has surged in recent years, it has been in circulation since the 1960s, when it originated in Texas. Withdrawals from the drug are similar to heroin withdrawals, so caution should be taken when helping someone wean off of the drink.

Overall, lean is not only bad for you, it is extremely dangerous. Although the drink is addictive it can be overcome with detox and professional help.


Possible short-term side effects

  • hyperthermia
  • increased heart rate
  • itching
  • seizures
  • slowed breathing
  • slumping over
  • stiff muscles
  • sweating
  • blurred vision
  • hallucination
  • death

Possible long-term side effects

  • addiction/dependency
  • death
  • neuroleptic malignant syndrome
  • seizures (resulting neurological damage)

Possible withdrawal symptoms

  • restless legs
  • anxiety
  • insomnia
  • pain
  • vomiting
  • diarrhea

Ingredients to be aware of

Healthier alternatives

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 11-28-2023

Thank you for your feedback!

Written by DeeAnne Oldham
Published on: 12-28-2015
Last updated: 11-28-2023

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