What Parents Should Know About The Effects of The Street Term ‘Lean’


The term ‘Lean’ references an illicit concoction of codeína based cough syrup and typically a soft drink or other sugary substance. Codeine cough syrup is prescribed to treat severe respiratory infections, asthma, and other severe ailments. Although the ingredients in the cough syrup are safe to take as prescribed by a doctor, the risk for addiction and abuse exists. Codeine is an addictive opioid, and promethazine is a relaxing suppressant. Lean is a well-known illicit drug on the streets.

It is illegal to take prescription drugs in a manner that they were not prescribed. Codeine is a controlled substance and regulated by the FDA. Abusing this cough syrup by mixing it with other beverages, drugs, or alcohol is both felonious and dangerous. Codeine cough syrup was not designed to be delicious, and making it more palatable by adding it to other beverages greatly increases the chances of addiction or overdose, especially among children and young adults.

So what is the attraction to lean, and what does lean do?

The Appearance of Lean

Lean is typically a liquid created when codeine cough syrup is added to a tasty beverage. There are instances where individuals will add codeine cough syrup to sugary candy or soak it into food that can readily be eaten. More often than not, Lean is mixed with soda.

If you are wondering who came up with lean and what does lean do, the concoction was made popular in the 90s and 2000s as rappers referenced the drug in their music as “purple drank” due to the appearance when the cough syrup was mixed with lemon-lime soda. It has been mixed with other beverages, as far as we can tell, as early as the 1960s. It may appear as a grape or raspberry-colored soda when mixed, and parents should beware.

The Effects of Lean

The effects of drinking Lean vary between relaxation and euphoria, and this is the easiest explanation for what does lean do. Promethazine cough suppressant is known to have a sedative effect. Codeine, an opiate, is known to cause euphoria in higher doses. The combination of these two drugs makes lean a popular party drug amongst teens and adolescents. Both drugs act as a depressant and suppress the central nervous system, while codeine stimulates certain parts of the brain and cause dopamine release. The depressant nature of codeine with the increase of dopamine is partially what makes it an effective pain killer.

Potential Overdose

In high enough concentrations, codeine cough syrup can suppress the central nervous system to the point where respiratory failure is a very real risk. Opiate overdose is also an acute possibility, and if not properly treated, it can result in death. This is what makes Lean incredibly dangerous. Making this drug easier to swallow by altering its taste makes it easier to consume greater concentrations while casually sipping a beverage. Because it is taken as a liquid and not a solid, it is easier to ingest, which means that greater concentrations of opiates can enter the bloodstream faster. Once the opiates enter your bloodstream, it is not as simple as inducing vomiting to empty the contents of your stomach, and overdose becomes a very real threat.

Mental Side Effects

There is a very high risk for addiction when it comes to opiates. Opiates are chemically and emotionally addictive because of their effects on the brain. Opiates affect both dopamine and serotonin balances in your head to create a sense of euphoria that your body cannot produce on its own. Our brains learn and grow using a sort of reward system.

Good things that promote survival and happiness are often rewarded with dopamine and other chemicals regulated by our endocrine system. Opiates mimic this effect by increasing the “reward” chemicals in our brain, which trains our body to crave them. Once the drug begins to metabolize and leave your system, your body reverts back to its normal levels. For more information, search online for “what does lean do?”.

The Dangers of Lean

Lean is incredibly dangerous because of its high risk of becoming addictive due to opiate concentration and improved flavor. It is made to taste good, along with being inconspicuous and potent; quite honestly, lean is a recipe for disaster. Going through withdrawal and being denied this hyper-inflated, chemical balance can lead to physical and emotional discomfort. Severe addiction can lead to mood swings, anger and hostility, depression, suicidal ideation, tremors and shakes, and body aches, even death.

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