It is never too early for a family to intervene in the case of a loved one’s drug addiction. In fact, the sooner that families take action, the better. Consider this: Research highlighted by USA Today suggests that 90 percent of people who have an addiction to something like alcohol or drugs started using those substances prior to age 18. That means people who use early tend to be people who keep on using throughout life, and that ongoing use could have disastrous consequences.
Keeping an eye on emerging drug use often means understanding what new drugs people might be exposed to, both in the real world and online. Most people love to experiment and take risks, and they often take those risks by trying out hip and new drugs. The drug they might take right now is called lean, and it is incredibly dangerous.
What Is Lean?
Lean is a slang term for a recreational drug that originally gained popularity in Houston, Texas. Today, lean is available almost everywhere, and experts say that its popularity continues to grow.
Lean’s appeal lies, in part, to its accessibility. People who want lean do not need to buy it from a dealer. People who want lean can simply make it. Its main ingredient is prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine. Cough syrup is generally mixed with other ingredients like lemon-lime soda and pieces of hard candy, like Jolly Ranchers. The purplish hue of the drink comes from dyes in the cough syrup.
People can learn how to make lean from their peers, or they can search online for how-to documents. There are videos available that provide step-by-step instructions for those who wish to make their own lean. There are also online forums in which people discuss best practices for making lean. People who want to experiment might find it easy enough to do so. The information is widely available.
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Lean’s Addiction Capability
While some might think that it is strange or unusual for a person to drink cough syrup, especially when that person might have been very resistant to taking in such medication when they were younger and sick, those who use lean have good reason to experiment.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), cough syrups used to make lean contain codeine, which is a narcotic. This medication can help to soothe a cough, but it can also cause a dissociative state in which colors, sounds, and experiences become bended and unusual. A person who takes in lean might be pushed into a completely different reality, and that might be quite enticing to a drug experimenter.
Additional Lean Dangers
When addiction experts discuss lean concerns, they often focus on codeine; however, there is another ingredient in lean that could cause a great deal of danger. That ingredient is promethazine.
Promethazine, according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, is designed to reduce congestion caused by colds and/or allergies. It is commonly found in the cough syrups people use in order to pull together a batch of lean. This is a medication that can cause a variety of nasty side effects, including:
- Slow breathing
Signs of Lean
In order for families to intervene when people are using lean, they need to know what it looks like and how people who take the drug typically act and react. When these signs appear, families can take action and ensure that the abuse stops, before something catastrophic happens.
A good tipoff is the physical appearance of lean. Usually, this is a purple-colored liquid (due to the colorful die found in cough syrup). The overall color can change depending on the color of the Jolly Rancher or other hard candy added to the mixture. Brightly colored drinks with a faintly medicinal smell are very likely Lean.
Slang can also be a good indicator. People who use drugs often talk in a form of code, so the people around them will not be aware of their drug use. Street names for lean include:
- Purple stuff
- Purple jelly
- Purple drank
- Texas tea
- Abdominal pain
- Urination issues
- Difficulty breathing
- Trouble swallowing
- Irregular heartbeat
- Changes in vision
Talking about Lean
As an article in USA Today points out, many people who use lean do so because they think the drug is somehow safe for them to use. Since they can get ingredients for the drug in the pharmacy or grocery store, it just does not seem dangerous. There is no dealer contact, and there is no crime committed. To some people, the drug seems really benign and a good get-high option.
Talking effectively about lean might mean talking about the impact of drugs in a general way, so users can understand what they are risking and what might happen to them if they continue to use and abuse drugs.
Whatever method families use, the important thing is to talk about lean. Families that do so could persuade a person to get help. Families that talk might even save a life.