The mainstream media is often one of the biggest influences in young adults’ lives.
For instance, the growing representation of Molly in pop culture has contributed to a recent significant increase in Molly abuse among young adults. Another drug that has gained in popularity recently due to the influence of today’s music is sizzurp, and while the dangerous concoction has been abused since the 1990s, its increased representation in popular songs has contributed to a growing number of young adults struggling with addiction.
What is Sizzurp?
Sizzurp, also known as purple drank, Texas Tea, and lean, is a mixture of prescription cold medicine, soda (such as Sprite or Mountain Dew), ice, and jolly ranchers. The combination of these ingredients produces a purple liquid that users ingest until euphoria and dissociation occurs. Users hope to feel sedated and woozy; however, they may also experience slurred speech, droopy eyes, loss of balance, slowed heart rate, constricted pupils, and paleness. The effects of sizzurp typically last between three to six hours. It is possible to overdose on codeine, especially when it is combined with other substances.
The cold medicine used contains promethazine, an antihistamine with sedative properties, and codeine, which is an opiate. Opiates are prescription medications that are often prescribed for cases of severe pain. When used as prescribed, opiates are incredibly effective at treating pain; however, because opiates can produce positive psychological effects, they are frequently misused. When taken in any way other than how it is prescribed, the combination of promethazine and codeine can produce a buzz that is addictive and dangerous. Too much codeine and promethazine can depress the Central Nervous System (CNS), which can in turn cause the heart and lungs to stop functioning. Individuals may experience hallucinations, impaired vision, memory loss and seizures.
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Sizzurp, Texas and Lil Wayne
Sizzurp first gained popularity in Houston, Texas, in the hip hop community. It grew in popularity with the introduction of the “chopped and screwed” music style, which was inspired by the side effects sizzurp produces. In recent years, its representation in popular songs by artists such as Lil Wayne and Three 6 Mafia has glorified use of sizzurp. Although several notable artists have passed away due to overdose, it continues to be abused and glorified by other artists. In spite of Lil Wayne’s hospitalization due to sizzurp overdose in 2013, he continues to abuse the drug with no indication that he plans to quit. There have been a number of arrests among rappers and professional football players. Between 2005 – 2008, three professional football players have been arrested for possession of codeine-based cough syrup. One professional football player, Terrance Kiel of the San Diego Chargers, was arrested in 2006 for attempting to ship cough syrup to a friend and died two years later due to a car accident in which Kiel was driving under the influence of sizzurp.
The popular representation of “lean” in mainstream media is one of the greatest influences in continued abuse. Since the primary substance in the concoction is prescribed by doctors, many young adults falsely believe that it is not dangerous to use. While it is unclear exactly how many individuals abuse “Texas Tea,” it is estimated that approximately one in ten teens use cough syrup to get high. The ingredients are relatively easy to obtain, contributing to its growing popularity among young adults. Purple drank is more commonly abused in specific states, such as Texas and Florida, but with growing representation in the media, the deadly mixture is becoming more abundantly abused in other states.
Addiction and Side Effects
Sizzurp abuse can lead to overdose, and is even more deadly when taken in combination with other substances. The codeine in the cough syrup is a depressant and when taken with other depressants, such as alcohol, vitals organs in the body may shut down, leading to coma or death. When abused for long periods of time, it can be difficult to overcome addiction to lean. For many young adults, a combination of detox and long-term treatment are the most effective ways to overcome addiction.