Sizzurp, Lean, Drank, Dirty Sprite: Cough Medicine Abuse

| September 10, 2015

What these things are, and why you should care

What is “sizzurp”?

“Sizzurp,” “purple drank,” “Texas tea,” “Dirty Sprite” and “lean” are common names for prescription or over-the-counter cough syrups which are commonly mixed with soda and/or candy. Key ingredients usually include prescription codeine (an opiate) and/or promethazine (an antihistamine), but can also be over-the-counter medications, such your garden-variety Robitussin-DM type syrups (active ingredient is dextromethorphan–AKA “DXM”).

Sizzurp/drank has been glorified by some popular music artists, and are referenced often in hip-hop (some popular songs that come to mind: Lil Wayne’s “Me and My Drink” and Future’s “DS2” (short for Dirty Sprite 2).

What’s the harm?

Abuse of cough medicines, especially ones that contain opioids, can cause an overdose leading to coma or even death. Other symptoms include nausea, dizziness, impaired vision, memory loss, hallucinations, and seizures.

Source: National Institute on Drug Abuse, 2013

What are the stats on cough medicine abuse?

A 2011 national survey found that one in 10 American teens has used cough or cold medication to get high, making it more popular in that age group than cocaine, ecstasy, LSD, and meth (source: U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Enforcement Agency).

Unfortunately, we don’t have local data that’s specific enough to cough syrup use at this time, as the state does not yet collect that data. However, we do know that the rates of overall prescription drug abuse among teens in Oregon, and Lane County’s rates are higher than the state average.

Teens who used prescription medications without a prescription (source: 2012 Student Wellness Survey (Oregon Health Authority, 2013):

  • 1 in 20 Lane County 8th graders (5.5% Lane County; 4.5% Oregon)
  • 1 in 10 Lane County 11th graders (10% Lane County; 8.4% Oregon)

OK, so what can I do?

Here’s how you can help keep your kids & guests in your home safe.

Lock up all of your medications (not just cough medicine).

It doesn’t need to be a fancy medicine cabinet, but even something as simple as a padlock from Home Depot and a little latch can do the trick. Okay, so you don’t want your medicine cabinet to look like a jail? Get a small safe and put the meds in there.

If you just can’t lock it up, be sure to keep a careful eye on how much you have. Monitor regularly.

Don’t store more than you need.

Is the cough syrup on sale? You don’t need to stock up. Did the doctor give you a “just-in-case” prescription? Avoid filling it until you need it.

Stay informed and talk with your teen.

Communicate with your teen regularly. Educate while they’re young on the risks of using any drug — prescriptions or even over-the-counter drugs. Don’t know how to have the conversation? Get some super useful tips.

Check out our “Teen-Proof Your Home” tips for other practical advice on keeping your ‘tweens and teens safe.

A final note.

Remember, keep meds in a safe place — not just for teens but also for all guests in your home. Have questions or comments? Let us know.


Category: Other Drugs, Parents/Caregivers, Young Adults - Other Drugs

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