Sizzurp: The Dangers of Soda Mixed with Cough Syrup
Sizzurp – It sounds like a drink from a Dr. Seuss book, and quite frankly, it looks pretty harmless as well. Also known as “purple drank,” this concoction of soda, Jolly Rancher candy, and prescription strength cough syrup (which includes codeine) may appear to be a fun way to obtain a quick high, but looks can be deceiving.
This mixture is actually highly dangerous, and parents would be wise to warn their teens to steer clear of sizzurp, which has been popularized by rappers and other music artists.
Read on to learn more about sizzurp and what you should do if you suspect that you or someone you know is addicted to cough syrup.
Where did sizzurp come from?
While the term may be new to you, drug users were getting high off of soda mixed with cough syrup as early as the 1960s. According to The Guardian, purple drank or sizzurp was part of the underground rap scene in Houston until music producer DJ Screw popularized it in the 1990s.
While DJ Screw may have made sizzurp sound “cool” to many young people, even he couldn’t escape the dangerous consequences. In 2000, he was found dead in his bathroom from an overdose of prescription-strength cough syrup mixed with marijuana and alcohol.
Why is sizzurp dangerous?
Prescription – strength cough syrup contains codeine, an opioid that depresses the nervous system. Like other opioids, it can cause an initial high where the user feels extreme happiness – and like other opioids, it’s very dangerous. Codeine abuse can lead to a number of uncomfortable and scary symptoms, including fatigue, loss of motor skills or coordination, memory loss, nausea, vomiting, and constipation.
Opioids are also highly addictive, so teens who drink sizzurp are at risk of forming a physical dependence on the drink in order to feel pleasure or happiness. The sweet taste of soda and/or candy that is added to the cough syrup makes it easy for users to abuse it and quickly lose track of how much they’ve consumed, which only increases the risks of addiction and overdose. Other long term effects of purple drank can include dental decay, constipation, weight gain, and urinary tract infections.
There is also a risk of fatal overdose, as the codeine depresses the respiratory system. As mentioned above, DJ Screw died of an overdose, and other prominent rappers have also experienced addiction and overdose as a result of drinking sizzurp.
Dr. Robert Glatter of Lenox Hill Hospital in New York told TODAY,
“This is a very dangerous drug. It can lead to seizures and essentially lead you to stop breathing.”
He went on to add,
“It’s quite addictive. The sweetness of the soda and candy combined with the drug itself makes people want to have this all day long. … They just don’t know how much they’ve had throughout the day and by then, it’s almost too late.”
What are the signs of sizzurp addiction?
If you rely on sizzurp to feel happiness or pleasure, you may have created a physical dependency on and addiction to the codeine found in sizzurp’s prescription-strength cough syrup.
Another sign of codeine addiction is the presence of withdrawal symptoms whenever you try to quit drinking sizzurp. Withdrawal symptoms may include difficulty sleeping, agitation, muscle aches, teary eyes, runny nose, anxiety, sweating, and increased yawning.
Some users who have been using sizzurp for a long period of time or in large doses may also experience more serious withdrawal symptoms that can include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramping, goose bumps, and dilated pupils.
What should I do if I’m addicted to codeine?
If you or a loved one is addicted to the codeine found in prescription-strength cough syrup and sizzurp, it’s best to contact an established rehab facility for support. Medically-supervised detox is the safest way to detox from an addictive substance with as few discomforts as possible.
From there, a combination of evidence-based treatment, experiential therapy, and holistic health services can help a user understand the root causes of their addiction and gain the tools they need to live a life of sobriety.