What is Lean?: Purple Drank Addiction

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Lean, also known as purple drank, is a combination product made from mixing high doses of prescription cough syrup, like codeine, with carbonated drinks and hard candy.

Popularized by rap artists during the 1990s and onwards, drug cocktails like lean have the potential to trigger abuse and addiction. This guide highlights how you can fight back against purple drank addiction.

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What is lean made of, then?

What is the Lean Drug?

If you’re the parent of teens, you may have been searching online for “what is lean” or “what is lean drink.” 

Lean is a homemade product that goes by many names, including: 

  • Lean drink
  • Purple drank
  • Lean purple drank
  • Dirty sprite
  • Lean drug
  • Sizzurp

Regardless of the name, lean contains the same core ingredients: 

  • Prescription cough syrup
  • Carbonated soft drinks
  • Hard fruit candy

It is the prescription cough syrup that makes lean especially dangerous. Lean is made using cough syrups that contain either codeine or promethazine. Codeine is a Schedule II controlled substance with the potential for abuse and addiction. Some prescription cough syrups contain promethazine, an antihistamine with sedative effects. Combining these substances can drastically impair motor functioning, induces a leaning effect the drug is named for.

Despite the reputation of lean as a cool and glamorous substance, lean abuse can bring about a battery of adverse outcomes. 

Codeine with Promethazine

Promethazine was originally prescribed mainly to treat allergic conditions, but it is now chiefly used as an anti-emetic or sedative. Promethazine is a mild sedative and depressant, but in higher doses it is associated with hallucinations. 

Additionally, promethazine is believed to intensity the effects of opioids. Since many lean products contain both codeine and promethazine, this can cause effects that include intense visual hallucinations. 

What are the most common effects of drinking lean? 

An image of a woman experiencing some side effects of addiction to lean, or the purple drank

Common Side Effects of Lean

The effects of lean mimic the drug’s name – those who drink lean tend to lean to one side, slouching further the more of the substance they consume. The effects induced by codeine are similar to those of opioids like oxycodone, hydrocodone, and heroin, although milder in presentation. 

Drinking lean leads to effects kicking in within 30 to 45 minutes, depending on the amount of codeine used to make the drug. Some people use up to 25 times the recommended dosage of codeine. 

Lean’s effects peak one to two hours after drinking the substance, lasting for between four and six hours. 

Despite its glorification in pop culture, drinking lean can cause negative outcomes that include: 

  • Slowed heart rate
  • Dizziness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Dental decay
  • Nausea
  • Constipation
  • Weight gain
  • Impaired vision
  • UTIs
  • Memory loss
  • Hallucinations
  • Seizure in at-risk individuals

Purple drank contains multiple depressants. These substances can synergize, causing the following potential complications: 

  • Sleepiness
  • Stupor
  • Dangerously low blood pressure
  • Respiratory depression
  • Coma
  • Sudden death

Lean Addiction

Many people who experiment with lean underestimate the risks of consuming codeine. Tolerance to opioids forms rapidly, diminishing the effects of the drug. Over time, the body will produce fewer natural opioids, ultimately becoming physically dependent on codeine. 

Continuing the abusive patterns of consumptions that triggered physical dependence typically causes addiction to develop in the form of opioid use disorder. Opioid use disorder is an incurable and chronic brain condition, but is treatable with MAT (medication-assisted treatment) and psychotherapy like CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy). 

Is Lean Addictive?

Developing a lean addiction is possible, but opioid use disorder is a progressive condition that will not happen overnight. 

Codeine is a Schedule II controlled substance, meaning its abuse potential is high. Taking codeine in high doses as an ingredient in lean could lead to an addiction that requires professional treatment to unpack. We can help you with that here at California Detox in Orange County.

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Codeine Rehab at California Detox

If you have developed an addiction to opioids like codeine, we can help you address the physical and psychological sides of substance use disorder. At California Detox in Laguna Beach, you can kickstart your recovery with a supervised medical detox. After a week or so, you will be codeine-free and ready to move into one of the following treatment programs: 

  • Inpatient programs (residential rehab)
  • IOPs (intensive outpatient programs)
  • PHPs (partial hospitalization programs)
  • Virtual IOPs (remote rehab program)
  • Dual diagnosis treatment programs (for co-occurring disorders)

At California Detox, you can connect with individualized care that draws from evidence-based interventions and holistic treatments that may include: 

  • MAT (medication-assisted treatment)
  • Group therapy
  • Individual counseling
  • Psychotherapy
  • Family therapy
  • Holistic therapies

You will leave our luxury Laguna Beach rehab with a robust aftercare plan to maximize your chances of sustained sobriety. Call admissions today at 949.694.8305 for immediate assistance.


No. Lean typically consists of codeine-based cough syrups. Robotripping involves replacing codeine cough syrups with OTC cough syrups that contain DXM (dextromethorphan). DXM is a cough suppressant with psychoactive properties. Large amounts of DXM can trigger severe hallucinogenic effects. Consuming DXM products is known as robotripping because the substance interacts with neurotransmitters in the brain that respond to hallucinogens – PCP and ketamine, for instance.
Promethazine is considered safe when used as prescribed as an antihistamine, anti-emetic, or sedative. When abused, promethazine can cause harmful complications including: Changes in blood pressure; Abnormal heart rhythm; Severe breathing problems; Dry skin; Hallucinations; and seizures


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