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What Is Lean? – Lean Abuse And Addiction

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

Medically reviewed by

Isaac Alexis, M.D., AAMA, AMP-BC

May 29, 2019

Lean, also known as purple drank, is an illicit substance that contains the opioid codeine. This drug can be addictive and lead to abuse and physical dependence. Formal treatment is often recommended for those addicted to lean.

Lean is an illicit drug commonly sold on the streets. This substance is made from codeine cough syrup, hard candy, and soda. Because lean contains codeine, its effects are similar to that of other opioids.

Lean is called a number of different names on the street, including Sizzurp, Dirty Sprite, and Purple Drank. This substance first became popular in Houston, Texas, where it was used by blues musicians.

Today, lean is illegally sold throughout the United States and is a fairly popular street drug. This substance is highly abused among hip-hop entertainers and is the cause of a number of deaths in the music industry.

Due to the codeine in lean, this substance comes with the risk of abuse, dependence, and addiction. The more someone abuses lean, the more likely he or she is to experience dependence and addiction to the drug.

Side Effects Of Lean Abuse

People typically drink lean to experience the pleasurable effects the drug produces. These effects can include feelings of euphoria and dissociation from the body. The effects of lean are similar to that of other opioids like oxycodone or morphine.

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While lean can certainly elicit positive effects, this drug also comes with a number of additional side effects that may include:

  • slowed breathing and heart rate
  • constipation
  • tooth decay
  • constricted pupils
  • slurred speech
  • loss of coordination and balance
  • drowsiness
  • urinary tract infections
  • vision problems

The effects of lean typically set in 30 minutes to an hour after drinking the substance. People may feel the effects of this drug for up to six hours after ingesting it. The higher the dose of codeine in lean, the more quickly and intense the effects will be felt.

The Dangers Of Drinking Lean

Due to this drug’s popularity with celebrities and throughout the music industry, many people believe lean is safe to drink and underestimate its effects. However, as with other opioids, this substance comes with a high risk for abuse and addiction.

People who abuse lean will likely build up a tolerance to the drug. This means that more of the drug is needed to experience the same effects. Taking more lean only increases the likelihood of physical dependence and addiction to the drug.

Someone who is dependent on lean may continue to abuse the drug to feel “normal.” Continued abuse of opioids like lean can put individuals at risk for health complications and overdose.

A lean overdose can cause the brain and body to slow down, resulting in decreasing breathing and heart rate. If enough lean is ingested, a person can stop breathing and oxygen can be cut off to the brain and body resulting in coma or death.

Treatment For Lean Abuse And Addiction

People who are addicted to lean will likely need formal treatment to overcome their addiction. Like other opioids, lean can be hard to quit on one’s own.

Treatment for lean addiction will likely begin with a medically supervised detox program. Opioid withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly uncomfortable, making it difficult for people to stop taking the drug alone. Detox programs offer round-the-clock support as well as medication treatment to help ease symptoms of withdrawal.

Once a person has successfully detoxed from lean, he or she may be transferred to an inpatient program. Inpatient treatment is often considered the most successful form of treatment for opioid addiction. Inpatient programs provide customized plans of recovery to meet each patient’s condition and needs.

To learn more about lean abuse and addiction, contact a treatment specialist today.

National Institute on Drug Abuse for Teens - Sizzurp: It’s Not Cool

U.S. Department of Justice - Resurgence in Abuse of ‘Purple Drank’

Narconon - Effects of Purple Drank Abuse

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