Promethazine / Codeine
Purple Drank (Promethazine with Codeine) Fact Sheet
The newest prescription drug craze to be gaining in popularity is the abuse of prescription cough syrup containing Promethazine with Codeine. Due to the arrest of former number one draft pick JaMarcus Russell, the drug has gained such recent notoriety that we feel a little more information needs to be made available on the subject.
What is Purple Drank?
Purple Drank is a concoction of the prescription cough syrup Promethazine with Codeine, typically mixed with a soda, like 7-Up or Sprite, or with an alcohol like gin or vodka. This leaves the drink a pink-purple color. Some recipes call for the addition of a Jolly Rancher, which adds another color, thus the drink is sometimes referred to as “Rainbow Colors”.
What are the Effects of Sippin Syrup?
Promethazine with Codeine is typically prescribed as a powerful cough suppressant, but when taken in sufficiently high doses can lead to sleepiness, altered thoughts, and impaired motor functions which often lead to a shuffling gait or “lean” to one’s walk.
What does it look like?
Promethazine with Codeine comes in prescription bottles and is normally a dark purple color. When mixed with clear beverages it will lighten to a pink color. Other variations of the drink use other, over-the-counter cough syrups, so they may range in color and strength.
What are its street names?
- Purple Drank
- Rainbow Colors
- Purple Jelly
- Texas Tea
What are its dangers?
At high doses, or if mixed with other depressants or alcohol, Purple Drank can lead to a slowed respiratory system and potential cardiac arrest. Also, due to its impairment of motor functions, people abusing Purple Drank are at a very high risk for driving accidents/fatalities. In addition, Codeine can be a very addictive substance leading to potential withdrawal symptoms and long term addiction.
Purple Drank in the news:
As the popularity of the drug has increased, so has its appearance in the headlines. It was first popularized by hip-hop producer DJ Screw who wrote several songs based on his love of Syrup. Unfortunately this abuse led to his eventual death from a Codeine overdose in 2000.
In 2006, San Diego Defensive back Terrence Kiel was charged with shipping a case of Syrup to his Texas hometown.
Probably the most famous celebrity known for abusing Syrup was rapper Lil’ Wayne. Currently serving time in prison, in this interview with MTV from February 2008, he talked candidly about how he was being pressured to quit by those around him, and how he couldn’t go cold turkey because of the painful withdrawal symptoms. His resistance to everyone around him, denial, and fear of withdrawal are such common to the theme of someone who needs help with recovery that it is a shame he wasn’t able to get the help he needed.