Purple drank (A complete guide)

Lean, also known as purple drank, sizzurp, barre, and Texas tea, is a combination of high doses of cough syrup (usually purple in color), soda, and hard candy.

The expression “lean” originates from the position it will put you in after you drink the beverage.

Lean gained popularity decades ago, as people have been misusing codeine containing substances for long periods of time.

Lean is also popular in music, as it’s been included in rap and hip hop songs since the 1970s. 

Several musicians have suffered from the harmful side effects of lean.

Lil Wayne, a mainstream rapper, has been hospitalized for excessive use of lean which led to recurring seizures.

Lil Bow Wow recently opened up about a near death experience due to his addiction to lean and Mac Miller, who passed away a few years ago, developed an addiction to lean back in 2013. 


The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) characterizes codeine as a Class II controlled substance when it’s a single ingredient.

It remains a less harmful, yet still powerful, controlled substance when blended in with other ingredients.

All items that contain codeine are usually only accessible with a prescription because there is a high risk of substance misuse associated with it.

Manufacturing or selling codeine outside of a pharmacy is illegal. 

Cough syrups containing codeine fall into the danger of misuse class since Actavis — viewed as one of the best codeine cough syrups by people who enjoyed drinking lean — was removed from the market because of its promoted misuse.

DXM cough syrup is accessible without a prescription, however, some states limit its offer to individuals over 18 years old.

What does lean do? 

Lean generally causes feelings of euphoria and relaxation that people thoroughly enjoy.

Some people who use lean state that it feels like you’re floating and are having an out of body experience.

The effects of lean travel through your CNS and into your brain, which causes a sedative effect.

While some people enjoy the effects of lean, it can also bring with it unpleasant and dangerous side effects when consumed in high doses.

Some of these side effects include: 

  • Hallucination
  • Sedation
  • Loss of coordination
  • High heart rate
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Skin irritation
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Dizziness 
  • Seizures 

Composition of Lean

The most common ingredients in lean are cough syrups that contain substances known as codeine and promethazine.

The cough syrup is blended in with soda or another carbonated beverage and sometimes alcohol.

Some people also include hard candies, such as Jolly Ranchers, to their drinks.

Others use over-the-counter (OTC) cough syrup containing dextromethorphan (DXM) are often used instead.

Since OTC cough syrups no longer contain alcohol, people will add their own alcohol to the OTC form of lean. 

Other varieties of purple drank involve a combination of codeine tablets added to cough syrup and soda.

The amount of each ingredient in lean varies depending on how it’s prepared.

As a general rule, higher than safe amounts of codeine and promethazine are often used when making lean.

Using lean can have several harmful, long term side effects that people find very difficult to live with.

Liver damage 

Acetaminophen, a typical ingredient in cough and cold drugs, has been linked to liver damage when you take more than the recommended dose of it or drink alcohol when taking acetaminophen containing products.

Lean often has far more than the recommended amount of cough syrup, and therefore higher than safe amounts of acetaminophen.

High doses of acetaminophen and other medications can keep your liver from appropriately metabolizing substances, leading to a toxic buildup of substances in you liver.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), prescription and OTC medications are the leading reason for liver disease and other liver damage. 

Indications of liver damage include: 

  • Yellowing of the skin or the whites of the eyes
  • Right sided upper abdominal pain
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dark urine
  • Darker than normal stools
  • Exhaustion
  • Brain injury that includes memory loss, social changes and weakness
  • Psychosis
  • Epilepsy

Withdrawal symptoms 

Purple drank contains ingredients that can lead to an addiction.

This implies that you will rapidly build up a tolerance for lean and require even higher doses to achieve the desired effects.

This may also cause you to feel unwell when you’re not consuming lean. 

Normal withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Irritability
  • Sweating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Anxiety 

Is lean addictive?

Almost all of the ingredients used in making lean are highly addictive.

Lean’s ingredients increase the amount of dopamine in your brain, which can lead to dependency on the substance.

In contrast to reliance, which involves your body essentially getting used to a substance, addiction brings about cravings and a total loss of authority over how much of the substance you are using.

Troubling signs of a leanaddiction include the following: 

  • You need more of it to get high. 
  • You can’t quit drinking it despite the fact that it has a negative impact on your life, such as hurting your relationships, homework, employment, or finances. 
  • You hunger for it and think about having it continually. 
  • You drink it as an approach to cope with your feelings of stress. 
  • You have withdrawal symptoms when you don’t drink it. 

Lean withdrawal symptoms include: 

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Insomnia
  • Stomach cramps
  • Loose stools
  • Loss of appetite
  • Shakiness
  • Fever
  • Chills
  • Body pain

Mixing Alcohol with lean

Combining alcohol enhances the effects of the codeine and DXM.

While it might appear to be a decent method to get higher, it makes drinking lean even more dangerous and possibly lethal.

Some effects of adding alcohol to lean include: 

  • Trouble breathing
  • Drowsiness
  • Exhaustion
  • Delayed response or reaction times
  • Fogginess in forming thoughts

In addition, your odds of overdosing are significantly higher when you combine alcohol with codeine or DXM. 

Interactions with Medications and Other Drugs

Lean can also have unsafe interactions with other medications, including some OTC prescriptions.

Lean can intensify and draw out the soothing effects of other CNS depressants, including: 

  • Opiates, for example, oxycodone, fentanyl, and morphine 
  • Lorazepam and diazepam 
  • Heroin 
  • Cannabis 
  •  MDMA, also known as Molly
  •  Ketamine also known as Special K 
  • Antihistamines 
  • Tranquilizers 
  • Monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs) 

Lean may also interact with herbal supplements such as valerian root and melatonin. 


Developing an addiction to lean is highly probable. However, help is available if you or someone you know is addicted to lean.

Codeine, which is a narcotic and a key ingredient in lean, makes it a highly addictive substance.

You can always speak to your primary care physician or a mental health professional about seeking treatment for an addiction to lean.

Any information you share with your provider is confidential and they can work with you to determine the best treatment plan and help you get back to living a safe and healthy life. 

FAQs on Lean:

Can lean kill you?

Lean is a lethal substance. There are several famous individuals who have overdosed on lean, either due to complications from long-term use or overdose.

Some high-profile cases of lean related deaths include DJ Screw, Big Meo and Fredo Santana.

CNS depression from drinking high quantities of this substance can not only slow down your breathing but can affect your heart and your lungs.

The dangers of lean are also amplified if alcohol is added to the substance.

Will I go to jail if I tell my doctor I’m addicted to lean?

Even though lean is illegal, your doctor will not report your drug usage to law enforcement.

Your doctors are bound by law, unless you have the intent to harm yourself or someone else, to keep information regarding illegal substance use confidential.

They will be focused on getting you help for your addiction and making sure that you are safe when seeking treatment.

Substance abuse is a very hard condition to overcome, and having the support of a provider who will keep your condition confidential is extremely important in ensuring you have a successful recovery process.

Are there rehabilitation programs available for people who are addicted to lean/purple drank?

Yes-several rehabilitation and detox centers help treat people who have a history of substance abuse and have misused lean.

Your doctor will be able to help refer you, if you’re interested, to a rehabilitation center that can help you on the road to recovery and meet your needs.

Seeking help for substance dependency is never any easy process, but it’s one that can be done with a lot of support from your healthcare providers and your loved ones. 


Interested in Learning More? Check out these books on lean: