What is sizzurp?

Originally Published: January 16, 2009
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Dear Alice,

Is sizzurp bad? And what are the effects?

Dear Reader,

Fun name, not necessarily fun outcome! Sizzurp, or purple drank, is a dangerous recreational drug, usually derived from mixing prescription-strength cough syrups (though sometimes over-the counter varieties) with soda and candy. Sizzurp users run the risk of developing dependency and overdosing on the main ingredients, codeine and promethazine. These drugs, partucilarly when combined with alcohol or other drugs, can lead to fainting, difficulty breathing, coma, and even death.

Also called lean, drank, barre, or purple jelly, sizzurp first became popularized in the hip-hop community, but is now thought to have crossed ethnic and cultural boundaries in its growing popularity. Because its main ingredient is a legal substance — cough syrup — sizzurp has made inroads into younger populations who have access to pharmaceutical substances. Sizzurp is used along with alcohol as syrup for cocktails or with marijuana by soaking a blunt in syrup before smoking. Older, more seasoned drug users tend to drink it straight up, sans mixers. Crack cocaine users may also use sizzurp to help mitigate the chest congestion and coughing that come with smoking crack. Both of these uses, which result in higher concentrations of codeine and promethazine, increase the likelihood of developing an addiction.

When taken for legitimate medical reasons, promethazine/codeine cough syrup carries the risk of dizziness, drowsiness, and/or lightheadedness. These effects are made stronger when combined with alcohol, and because abusers of promethazine/codeine syrup typically take more than the recommended dose, sizzurp users are likely to develop a tolerance to the drug. With increased tolerance and/or subsequent addiction, as users chase the high from sizzurp, overdosing on these potentially lethal substances becomes more likely.

For more information on the effects of abusing cough medicine and other over-the-counter or commonly available pharmaceutical drugs, see the related questions below. If you are considering using sizzurp, you may want to ask yourself what exactly appeals to you about this drug: the ease of getting it? The taste or the high? The idea of trying something new? As is the case with any choice to use drugs, weighing the potential consequences with the desire for the high will help you make the wisest decision.

Alice