What Does A Lean Addiction Look Like?

Lean, also known by the popular street name “purple drank,” is an illicit substance made with codeine, containing cough syrup, soda, hard candy, occasionally alcohol, and the antihistamine, promethazine. An individual can develop a lean addiction in a relatively short period due to how opioids short-circuit the brain’s reward response system.

While lean is a drug used by people of all ages, it’s most used by teens and young adults at parties or in social settings. There are many reasons why young adults and teenagers more commonly use lean. For one, the mixture of soda and hard candy with codeine may be more appealing to younger individuals. However, what may be even more of an influence is the prevalence of lean in pop culture, specifically in the music and entertainment industries.

If your teen is using lean, it’s important to not wait to seek help. Abusing dangerous drugs like opioids as a young adult can result in long-term negative health effects. To learn about treatment options for yourself or a loved one, call a treatment provider for free today.

Is Lean Dangerous To Drink?

While all the ingredients used to make lean are legal when prescribed by a doctor, it’s important to note that lean is not safe to drink under any circumstances. Codeine is a Schedule II drug, as listed in the Controlled Substances Act, meaning it has both a high potential for abuse and addiction and is only intended for prescribed medical uses such as relieving mild pain or reducing coughing.

Other ingredients commonly used to make lean, such as promethazine or alcohol, are both widely available without a prescription and, in the case of alcohol, even socially acceptable. This can make spotting a lean addiction very difficult, as these drugs are not only commonly found in most households but also legal for most adults to purchase.

Despite its glorification in popular culture, drinking lean comes with a host of potential side effects and negative outcomes. There have been several prominent music artists, many of whom promoted or talked about the use of lean in their songs, who have passed away as the result of an overdose involving the drug concoction. The most notable of these unfortunate overdoses is the late rapper and singer Juice WRLD, who died of a codeine overdose in 2021, just days after his 21st birthday.

Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD, addiction medicine specialist of over 20 years, explains how pop culture and social media have influenced teens’ and young adults’ perceptions of drugs like lean and how dangerous these influences can be.

Substance Abuse In Pop Culture

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Dr. Ashish Bhatt, MD explains the influence that the internet and social media have on young adults, adolescents, and teens when it comes to substance use.

Side Effects Of Drinking Lean

Lean gets its name from the effect it has on people who drink it: they tend to slouch or lean to one side the more they consume the substance. The effects of codeine are like those of other addictive opioids (such as oxycodone and heroin).

Typically, its effects begin to kick in within 30 to 45 minutes, though differing amounts of codeine in lean (sometimes up to 25 times the recommended dose) can shorten onset times. The peak effects begin 1 to 2 hours after ingestion and last about 4 to 6 hours. Some serious side effects of lean include the following.

Slowed Heart Rate And Breathing

Because the main component of lean, codeine, is an opioid, it can cause many of the dangerous effects associated with drugs like fentanyl, OxyContin, and heroin. Of the many dangerous effects of lean, one of the more potentially dangerous is its ability to slow a person’s heart rate and breathing.

Decreased heart rate and respiratory depression can both be dangerous on their own and are the primary cause of death by overdose. This is because opioids like codeine can slow a person’s heart or breathing to a point where they eventually stop breathing, which, if left untreated, can cause death. The presence of alcohol or other drugs in lean can increase the likelihood of respiratory depression, increasing the chances of overdose or death.


Drinking lean has been associated with an increased risk of seizures, particularly in those who may already be at risk. Experts believe this is due to the opioid-like effect lean has on the heart and lungs, which can deprive the brain of oxygen, leading to seizures.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addition to lean, know there is help available.

Dental Decay

The sugary concoction of cough syrup, soda, hard candy, and alcohol can cause tooth decay, especially for those who drink lean regularly. For those who may not take regular care of their teeth, such as young adults or teens, the carbonation and sugar found in lean can take a serious toll on oral health. Additionally, the use of opioids like codeine can cause dry mouth, which can lead to an increase in the number of harmful teeth and gum-damaging bacteria.


One of the more severe side effects of drinking lean is the potential for hallucinations. Hallucinations are sensations or perceptions that aren’t real. These sensations can make someone believe they’re hearing, seeing, feeling, or smelling something that isn’t there. While experiencing a hallucination, a person is more likely to engage in risky behaviors, which can lead to physical harm or even assault.

Impaired Vision

Opioids like codeine, even in small amounts, can impair a person’s vision. This impairment can cause blurry vision, seeing doubles (also called diplopia), or difficulty seeing in the dark. This can increase not only the likelihood of accidental falls or injuries but also car accidents, which can often be fatal.

Featured Centers Offering Treatment for Lean Addiction

How Can I Tell If My Child Is Drinking Lean?

Due to its prominence in pop culture, lean is most abused by teens and young adults. This can pose a serious concern to parents who may suspect their child is using drugs or alcohol. If you’re concerned about your child, here are a few signs they may be using lean.

You Continuously Notice Missing Drugs

Many of the components needed to make lean can be found in most household medicine cabinets. Antihistamines like promethazine, sold under the brand name Phenergan, can be bought over the counter and are commonly used to treat allergies, nausea, or insomnia.

If your child is attempting to make lean, they might try and take drugs like Phenergan, or similar antihistamines, from your medicine cabinet. You may also want to keep an eye on any alcohol you may have in the house, as it is commonly mixed with lean to increase its effects.

Your Child Is Using Drug-Specific Language

If you suspect your child may be using drugs like lean, a potential indication may be the language they use while online or when talking with friends. If you believe your child is using lean, some language you may want to look out for may include some of the following.

When referring to lean itself, teens or young adults may refer to it as:

  • Purple drank
  • Sizzurp
  • Texas Tea
  • Dirty Sprite
  • Syrup
  • Purple Tonic
  • Sip-Sip
  • Purp

When talking about using or obtaining lean, teens or young adults may use phrases like:

  • Robotripping: Refers to using dextromethorphan (DXM) to get high.
  • Dexing: A similar phrase to robotripping that refers to using DXM to get high.
  • Tussin: Refers to the act of drinking Robitussin or other cough syrups in order to get high.

Your child may also use a variety of emojis or icons to avoid being detected when talking with friends about lean. Some of these emojis may include:

  • Grapes
  • Purple hearts
  • Baby bottle

You Notice Behavioral Changes

Behavior changes are a common sign that your child may be experiencing a mental illness or substance use disorder. Some of these changes may be subtle, while others may interfere with their ability to perform daily tasks. Some signs your child may be using lean include:

  • Acting despondent, aggressive, or angry
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Dropping old friends for a new friend group
  • Losing interest in activities they once enjoyed
  • Weight loss

What Treatment Options Are Available For Lean Addiction?

There are many options available for those struggling with an addiction to lean. This includes a variety of treatment methods that can range from online therapy to inpatient rehab.

Online Therapy: A Great Place To Start

If you’re a parent who is struggling to overcome the mental, emotional, or physical stress of your child using lean or other illicit drugs, online therapy can be a great place to start. Online therapy allows for discrete, flexible therapy from the comfort of your own home, which means you can continue to work without having to take time off. These services also allow you to receive the support you need while also ensuring the needs of your child are met.

Online therapy can also be a great starting point for children or young adults to start their treatment journey. You can think of it as a steppingstone toward more intensive treatment, should it be needed, and it can even be effective alongside inpatient treatment for added support.

For more information on online therapy options, get in touch with professional online addiction and mental health counselors today by utilizing the offer below.

Teen And Young Adult Treatment For Lean Addiction

For teens and young adults that need more intensive care, inpatient rehabs provide the highest level of care and typically have the highest success rates. Many treatment facilities across the country specialize in treating teens and young adults with substance use disorders and may even specialize in treating opioid-related addictions such as codeine.

These facilities typically work closely with families, which is often an important part of their treatment planning for young people. Additionally, these facilities may also be gender-specific, which may be helpful for teens or young adults who may be dealing with substance use or mental health disorders.

To learn more about teen drug abuse treatment, view our teen and young adult treatment resources.

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Adult Treatment For Lean Addiction

While lean addiction typically affects younger individuals, it’s important to remember that anyone can become addicted. For adults dealing with lean addiction, medical detoxification is typically recommended as a first step. This can be done at an inpatient facility where trained medical staff can monitor you 24/7 for any serious withdrawal symptoms.

After detox is completed, a stay at an inpatient rehab facility is the next recommended step. Here, a multidisciplinary team of nurses, psychiatrists, therapists, and other professionals can help you work through the underlying causes of addiction and help you build proper coping mechanisms to help you stay sober once you leave.

To find a rehab near you, explore the rehab directory today. For more information on adult treatment for lean addiction, such as information on finances, detox, and treatment plans, call a treatment provider for free.