We may all remember Three 6 Mafia’s 2000 hit song, “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” but that syrup or lean was the very thing that could’ve landed celebrities and partygoers in jail this past weekend, reports TMZ.
Los Angeles police enforcement briefed cops on the likes of the euphoric drink, which contains a mixture of Jolly Rancher candies and fruit-flavored soda with prescription cough syrup containing codeine, according to TMZ. Complex Magazine tweeted and was retweeted by an LAPD Twitter account that the sizzurp lessons held in downtown LA had nothing to do with the 2016 BET Awards, an awards ceremony that celebrates African-American music artists and humanitarians. However, the drink, usually carried in a Styrofoam cup, has been associated with famous Southern hip-hop acts in the past decade.
Lil Wayne, Young Money’s mogul rapper who first rose to fame during his Hot Boys days, was hospitalized earlier this month for seizures, a condition that some have speculated could be a result of his public, excessive use of sizzurp. In March 2013, reports circulated throughout social media and blogs that Lil Wayne, whose real name is Wayne Carter, was near death after being hospitalized from a seizure. Later, Carter revealed in a radio interview that he was epileptic, according to USA Today.
But the rapper’s decline in health and the overdose of Southern hip-hop artists, Pimp C, DJ Screw, and Big Moe, in the early to mid-2000s have forced pop culture to look at the dangerous and addictive quality of the candy-colored drink and ask: “What exactly is behind this purple euphoric substance?”
Codeine and its effects on sizzurp sippers
The popularity of sizzurp, also known as purp, purple drank and lean, has been dated back to the turn of the millennium, when DJ Screw pioneered the sound version of the drowsy sensation caused by the syrup in his “chopped and screwed” beats, according to the Los Angeles Times article, “Lil Wayne seizure puts spotlight on rappers’ use of ‘sizzurp.’”
The DJ, who died from an overdose of alcohol and codeine in 2000, made the sluggish sounds a signature movement of Southern artists, such as Lil Wayne, UGK, T.I., and T-Pain. In the ‘90s, the syrup remained a signature cocktail of Houston artists, but when Three 6 Mafia and UGK, a rap duo featuring Pimp C, released “Sippin’ on Some Syrup,” the lethal mix attracted national attention.
In the midst of the national popularity of the syrup, Southern states—in particular, Florida and Texas—began to see a spike in users of the prescription substance. Rap culture had piqued the interest of young fans across the South.
According to a 2012 survey done by a Texas secondary school, the use of the “Houston Cocktail” continued to be a concern with only 11 percent of students reporting they never used codeine or cough syrup to get high.
Past studies have also shown that the codeine and promethazine mixture is notably popular among young African-American males, according to The American Journal on Addictions.
To take a deeper look into the hazy, purple cup appearing in Lil Wayne music videos and the rap scene, clinical professionals have started to sift through the sweet stuff and analyze the liquid drug.
“Codeine is an opiate,” said Jane Maxwell, senior research scientist at the University of Texas at Austin’s Addiction Research Institute. “When you’re sipping on syrup, you’re sipping on a synthetic narcotic analgesic,” she said in the Los Angeles Times article.
Dr. George Fallieras, an emergency room physician at the Los Angeles’ Good Samaritan Hospital, said in the article that Southern rappers have a misconception about the similarities between codeine and its opiate cousin, heroin.
“But the amount of codeine these guys ingest with the syrup is massive… It’s just the same as someone being addicted to heroin, except they’re not using needles,” Fallieras said.
Even still, the declining health of rappers who have either died or suffered health malfunctions from the drug seems to have little effect on the appetite young people have developed for it. In essence, it’s cheap and easy to access—the premise for prescription drug abuse.
According to the Drug Enforcement Agency’s (DEA) 2012 “How Teens Abuse Medicine” parent guide, the agency reported that more than 1 in 10 teens report lifetime use of over-the-counter cough medicines to get high.
In a BuzzFeed article titled, “What Does Getting High on Sizzurp Feel Like,” a recipe for the drink called for three simple ingredients: two spoonfuls of Promethazine-codeine cough syrup, fruit-flavored soda (the recipe suggested Sprite or Mountain Dew) and one Jolly Rancher.
The recipe even stressed the importance of a certain type of cough syrup, “If it doesn’t have promethazine, it ain’t real sizzurp.”
The article also listed other effects of codeine explained by sizzurp experimenters on social media:
- Waves of nausea
- Constricted pupils
- Slurred speech
- Droopy eyes
- Mild euphoria
- Occasional hallucinations
- Inner numbness
Though the codeine is responsible for the euphoric high, promethazine impairs judgment and motor skills. The article also explained that prescribing promethazine cough medicine to children and the elderly is illegal in other countries because one of its little-known side effects is “a lowering of a user’s seizure threshold.”
According to MetroDrug, users are at high risk of overdose because the sweetness of the drink undermines its powerful combination. A person may consume an entire bottle of cough syrup, which is 25 times the recommended dosage of the medication. When a person overdoses, the effects of promethazine and codeine, a respiratory depressant, work together to shut down the central nervous and respiratory systems, stopping the heart and suppressing breathing.
The effects of sizzurp are similar to prescription opioids and heroin, yet the music world has marketed the concoction as this sort of glorified hip-hop juice that only puts a lean in your walk and dope next to your name.
But the persistence of this drink, 16 years after the death of DJ Screw, has shown its obscure place in narcotics. Many users may not consider sizzurp as a real, street drug and this may only perpetuate the increasing opioid addiction rates among teens and young adults.
Treating the opioid epidemic
There are several treatment options targeting the severity of the opioid addiction. Depending on the severity of the addiction, long-term, residential treatment is recommended for detox and therapy, which purges the body of chemical toxins from sizzurp and teach the clients new behavioral patterns to avoid relapse.
Outpatient treatment allows clients, who have typically gone through a residential rehab program, to receive medically-assisted treatment, such as methadone maintenance, a drug used for recovering opioid addicts, and to continue therapy. Aftercare programs, such as a 12-step program and sober-living home, encompass a recovering addict with support, therapy, and accountability.
At Elevate Recovery Center, we are passionate about surrounding young adults with a community-oriented atmosphere. If you, or a loved one, are struggling with an over-the-counter opioid addiction, then call our specialists today to receive more information about your recovery options at Elevate. Call us today at 844-318-0073 , and get ready to start the rest of your life free from the clinches of drug abuse.