Sippin’ on Sizzurp by Mendi Baron

step 12 magazine sizzurp
How Sizzurp, a dangerous and illegal cocktail concoction, made popular in the hip hop community, has taken root among teens.

Purple is an edgy hue long associated with music that has evoked fervor, intensity, and drama starting with the 70’s hard rock days when the color helped name Jimi Hendrix’s famous song, Purple Haze and onto Prince’s 1984-era chart topper, Purple Rain.

These days, however, purple is associated with something called Sizzurp, or Purple Drank, a concoction of prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine mixed with sodas like Sprite or Mountain Dew, and the sweetness enhanced with Jolly Rancher candies. These seemingly innocuous ingredients, when consumed as a drink for recreational drug use, causes serious health consequences, including death. The Sizzurp concoction is often at a dosage that exceeds 25 times the recommended dose for the cough medication.

An open conversation about the dangers of drugs such as Sizzurp is important, as with any potentially dangerous substance to which your adolescent may be exposed.

Born in the 1990’s Houston hip-hop scene, Sizzurp, also known, as Lean and Texas Tea, became a central theme in not only the lyrics penned by various hip-hop artists, but also played out with flourish in their lifestyles. Made famous by such artists as DJ Screw, Pimp C, and Big Moe in their lyrics and performances, Sizzurp was subsequently also the cause of their untimely deaths. In more recent years, Lil Wayne and Justin Bieber have been associated with using Sizzurp. The drink is glamorized in music videos, YouTube postings, and on social media, perpetuating the drug’s allure among young people.

Sizzurp has also been seen within the ranks of the NFL. Johnny Jolly of the Green Bay Packers was arrested in Houston in 2008 with elements of Sizzurp discovered in his car. In 2006, Terrance Kiel of the San Diego Chargers was arrested for attempting to ship a large amount of the cough syrup to an acquaintance.  In 2005, Oakland Raiders’ Marcus Russell was arrested for being in possession of the codeine-based syrup, which had been negatively affecting his performance on the field.

About Sizzurp

The active ingredients, codeine and promethazine, are central nervous system depressants, which when consumed in high doses can cause dangerous respiratory depression. Codeine is in the opiate family, classified as a Category II controlled substance that converts to morphine in the body. Withdrawal symptoms to codeine are quite similar to that of a heroin addiction.  Promethazine is an antihistamine with sedative qualities, and at high doses can result in a dissociative state, out-of-body experience, similar to PCP or ketamine.

Sizzurp has a powerful sedative effect, causing drowsiness, lack of coordination slowed heart rate, blurred speech, loss of balance, and seizures. Moreover, high doses of Sizzurp can prove fatal as significant central nervous system and respiratory depression can cause the heart and lungs to stop functioning.

Teens can be secretive about their experimentation of recreational drugs, so parents need to follow their instincts and dig a little deeper if their teen displays changes such as:

• Anxiety and depression can result after the drug’s effects wear off. With continued codeine use, these moods will become more pronounced.

• Continually asking for help for a medical condition related to a cough. Persistent seeking of prescription medication may be a sign of a substance abuse problem.

• Finding prescription cough medicines missing from the parent’s medicine cabinet

• Codeine abuse will lead to decreased energy and a lethargic state. If your teen is sleeping more than usual, or has acquired an apathetic attitude towards school or family, this could be a sign of drug abuse.

• Codeine addiction can cause persistent muscle twitching, fainting, rashes, and vomiting, symptoms that should be addressed by the parent.

Get Help for Sizzurp Abuse

If your teen is caught up in the recreational abuse of Sizzurp, they may need professional help in detox and withdrawal, as uncomfortable withdrawal symptoms may make it difficult to quit. Look for a treatment program that will meet your teen’s specific needs, one that provides a safe and supportive environment for your child to learn to make the positive choices that will lead them to a satisfying and productive life.

About the Author