In the music video, a rap group “Shoreline Mafia” shows house party with the bunch of medicine bottles instead of alcohol. It’s cough syrup cocktail, but it’s not over-the-counter, it’s a prescription.
On the slang of young people, this is called “Lean,” “Purple Drank,” or “Dirty Sprite” this mixture does not cure a cough, and the younger generation uses it to get high.
Justin, a recovering Lean addict at Tarzana Treatment Center, says in the interview FOX 11, “It’s extremely addictive once you do it. You just want to get another bottle and another bottle of cough syrup cocktail.”
“Lean” is made up of the antihistamine Promethazine with the potent opiate codeine. Michael Levine, Chief of Toxicology at USC’s Keck School of Medicine, says that he’s seen a rise among teenagers and young adults using this cough cocktail.
“Just because something might be a prescription medication, if you are using it for something that’s not prescribed to you, that is a drug,” noted Levine.
“Abusing the drug for even a short period can cause serious effects, such as feelings of dizziness, blurred vision, nausea and even seizures and it can also lead to death,” Levine says.
The codeine craze has been well known in the rap community. “Lean,” which was dubbed “Hip Hop’s Heroine,” is accused of the overdose of several rap artists, DJ Screw died in 2000, and Pimp C was found dead in a hotel in West Hollywood in 2007, and more recently, popular rapper Lil’ Wayne suffered a series of seizures. His apparent use of codeine and “Lean” has been well documented. These rappers are influencing a much younger generation to consume it, too. Experts say after “Lean” exploded in popularity a few years ago, it’s now making a big comeback in the party scene.
That’s where rap group “Shoreline Mafia” gets much of their following. Emulating the likes of more famous Hip-Hop artists, “Shoreline Mafia” takes their love of “Lean” to another level. In their video that was filmed to look like a home invasion robbery, masked suspects with guns pointed at victims are spliced together with shots of cough syrup cocktail.
When journalists from FOX 11 began investigating, their producers found many videos on social media showing everyone from the famous to their followers sipping cough syrup cocktail. It’s usually mixed with soda and served in a double styrofoam cup with sweet candy at the bottom to discourage the taste. In one of the videos, DJ says he is about to overdose. Some young men say drinking the syrup-laced soda gives them the feeling of euphoria, like surfing on the wave. But after a while, that feeling of floating just isn’t satisfying enough.
Tiger, a recovering “Lean” addict, says, “Once you start “Lean” you want to add more highs to it, whether it’s Adderall, whether it’s Xanax, whether it’s something, you just want to enhance.”
Unfortunately, young people aren’t exposed to those realities. They are only watching their favorite music artists build personas around “Lean,” marketing it through their music and social media networks.