Cough and Cold Medicine Abuse

Highest Standards, Nationally Recognized:


There are many concoctions made using cough and cold medicine – these concoctions are typically known as “lean”, “purple drank”, “purple lean”, “sizzurp”, “dirty sprite”, and “lean drink”. These drinks most often are comprised of prescription-strength cough medicine, soft drinks, and hard, fruit-flavored candy. According to Drug Abuse, a website aimed at providing addiction information, those drinks that contain cough syrup present a major danger because they contain codeine, a dangerous opioid drug. The National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIH) has noted two main medications that are most commonly abused: dextromethorphan (DXM), and promethazine-codeine cough syrup.

Narconon, a website that provides drug and recovery health information, mentions that the hip-hop industry is a major endorser of these concoctions. Signs of drug abuse from cough medicine include slurred speech, blurred vision, euphoria, sedation, disassociation from one’s body, impaired motor skills, lethargy, and drowsiness. When taken in high doses, users may experience vomiting, weakness, headaches, itchiness, dry mouth, hives, chest pains, fainting, hallucinations, seizures, and tremors. While a cough and cold medications can be safe when used as directed for cold symptoms, it can affect the brain as a drug would if taken in large doses and more frequently.

The NIH has noted that codeine found in cough and cold medications attaches to the same cell receptors that drugs like heroine attach to. These medications often act as depressants to the central nervous system, causing a person to feel relaxed and sedated. When abused, the medication can cause an increase in dopamine, the brain’s reward center. This can cause the brain to become dependent on the drug to feel happy, relaxed, and calm – leading someone down the road of addiction.

Many people who abuse this drug feel a release from anxiety and tension. Cough medicine concoction are particularly popular among children in 8th -12th grade; the Drug Enforcement Agency reported in 2011 that 2.9% of 8th graders, 4.3% of 10th graders, and 5% of 12th graders abused cough and cold medicines that year. Thankfully, the NIH has been working diligently to decrease these numbers. Researchers from Georgia Southern University found in 2013 that cough and cold medicated drinks are also popular among young adults in urban areas, no matter their race or sexuality.




Treatment for this addiction typically involves residential or outpatient treatment programs which will help a person to detox and learn more about their addiction. If you are addicted to cough/cold medication, call the Avalon Malibu Mental Health & Treatment Center today. Our residential treatment programs provide trusted results. Overcome your addiction with our licensed, experienced healthcare team who is ready to support you. It’s time for you to take back control over your life. Call us today at 888-533-9886.

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