Lean Guide

ALTTEXTWhat is Lean?

Lean is a slang term for a recreational drug popular in the hip hop community in the southern region United States.  Lean originated in Houston, Texas.

Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine.  Cough syrup is typically mixed with ingredients such as Sprite or Mountain Dew and pieces of Jolly Rancher candy. The purplish hue of purple drink comes from dyes in the cough syrup.


Originally, the active ingredient of "lean" was cough syrup containing promethazine and codeine.

The concoction first gained popularity in the underground rap scene in Houston, Texas where musician Big Hawk said it was consumed as early as the 1960s and 1970s, becoming more widespread in the early 1990s.

Because of usage by rap artists in Houston, it became more popular in the 1990s.
In June 2000, Three 6 Mafia's single "Sippin' on Some Sizzurp," featuring UGK, brought the term "purple drank" to a nationwide audience.  Three 6 Mafia's single "Rainbow Colors" featuring Lil' Flip pertains to the consumption of purple drank; the addition of a Jolly Rancher candy to a cup of purple drank creates a spectrum of colors, hence the name.
In 2004, the University of Texas found that 8.3% of secondary school students in Texas had taken codeine syrup to get high.

The Drug Enforcement Administration reports "busts" involving syrup across the southern United States, particularly in Texas and Florida.
As of 2011 the price of purple drank in Houston is twice the price in Los Angeles.

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 Usually a purple colored liquid due to the colorful die found in the cough syrup.  The overall color can change depending on the color of the Jolly Rancher candy added to the mixture.

Street Names:

Purple stuff,  sizzurp, syrup, drank, barre, purple jelly and Texas tea.

Routes of Administration


Adverse Health Effects

  • Dizziness
  • Lightheadedness
  • Headache
  • Drowsiness
  • Mood Changes
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Constipation
  • Stomach Pain
  • Difficulty Urinating
  • Respiratory Depression
  • Difficulty Breathing or Swallowing
  • Fast, Pounding, or Irregular Heartbeat
  • Rash
  • Itching
  • Hives
  • Changes in Vision
  • Seizures
  • Death

Purple drank is confirmed or suspected to have caused the deaths of several prominent users. Respiratory depression is a potentially serious or fatal adverse drug reaction associated with the use of codeine. This depression is dose-related and is the mechanism for the potentially fatal consequences of overdose: respiratory or cardiac arrest. As with most CNS depressants, mixing with alcohol greatly increases the risk of respiratory failure and other complications.

DJ Screw, who popularized the codeine-based drink, died of a codeine-promethazine-alcohol overdose on November 16, 2000, several months after the video to Three 6 Mafia's single debuted.  Big Moe, a DJ Screw protégé whose albums City of Syrup and Purple World were based on the drink and who has been described as having "rapped obsessively about the drug," died at age 33 on October 14, 2007, after suffering a heart attack one week earlier that left him in a coma.

Pimp C, widely influential Port Arthur, Texas rapper and a member of rap duo UGK, was found dead on December 4, 2007, at the Mondrian Hotel in West Hollywood, California. The Los Angeles County Coroner's office reported that the rapper's death was "due to promethazine/codeine effects and other unestablished factors." Ed Winter, assistant chief of the coroner's office, said the levels of the medication were elevated, but not enough to deem the death an overdose. However, Pimp C had a history of sleep apnea, a condition that causes one to stop breathing for short periods during sleep. A spokesman for the coroner's office said that the combination of sleep apnea and cough medication probably suppressed Pimp C's breathing long enough to bring on his death


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