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Codeine Addiction — It Crippled Me

Codeine, which is the famous purple syrup that your favorite rap artist sips on, has been around since the wild west. For as long as it has been around, codeine addiction has been a problem that has destroyed countless lives and torn families of those affected by addiction to shreds.

The powerful combination of codeine, promethazine, and dextromethorphan all work synergistically together in a way that potentiates each drug, making them stronger than what they would be if you were to just take either of those three substances individually. 

Codeine syrup has a high potential for abuse and should be avoided at all costs for a person who has struggled in their life with alcoholism, drug addiction, or both. Even if you may have not ever been an addict yourself, if it’s something that either your parents or other close relatives have struggled with, then I still wouldn’t take the risk.

Let us take a quick dive into this dangerously powerful purple syrup.

Understanding Codeine Addiction — What Codeine Cough Syrup Is

Codeine cough syrup is a prescription opiate that is typically prescribed for severe pain associated with upper respiratory illness. The combination of drugs present in codeine cough syrup do a pretty good job at managing and fighting the effects of chronic coughing while providing temporary relief. 

The biggest reason that codeine cough syrup has such a high potential for abuse is because of the drug’s ability to change how a person’s brain and central nervous system respond to pain.

I can say from my own personal experience that drinking the syrup by itself tastes rather disgusting, much like other types of cough syrup.

Users who abuse this drug found a better and tastier way to take the syrup by mixing it with popular sodas or sweetened alcoholic drinks. 

Combining codeine syrup with alcohol will get you pretty messed up but can easily slow a person’s heart down to the point of becoming fatal. I do not recommend mixing this stuff with alcohol unless you want an early funeral. 

Some of the most common street names for codeine cough syrup include lean, sizzurp, drank, purple drank, barre, and Texas tea. 

If this is something that you’re prescribed and have to take for a legitimate health reason, I just will say please drink this stuff with caution. Even if you are not prone to addiction, this stuff will give you a buzz that can create a voice in the back of your head that might try to encourage you to go ahead and drink some more.

Know that drinking too much codeine cough syrup can not only damage your kidneys and liver severely, but it can also cause you to have a seizure, and trust me from my own experience, those things are something that you want to avoid at all costs. 

My Personal Experience With Codeine Addiction

I, like many people in my generation, first discovered codeine syrup in songs that many hip-hop artists would rap about. They call it “lean,” and it has definitely earned that title. 

I think I was around the age of 19 or so, and by this time I was about a year deep into my addiction. Thus far it had been marijuana and opiate painkillers as well as extremely powerful muscle relaxers known as Somas. 

I was living with my grandmother, attending college, and would steal my grandparent’s pills —  some expired, some not. I had my first overdose on Soma probably as short as 4 months deep into my addiction. You would have thought that near-death experience would have been a wake-up call, but this was only the beginning for me. 

My grandmother (Nana) had a pretty bad cough and was prescribed a large bottle of codeine syrup, and I found it in her bathroom. I saw rappers pour the entire bottle into their white styrofoam cups and mix it with Sprite, so that gave me the idea that drinking the entire bottle would be a good idea.

So long story short, I would drink the bottle in its entirety, rationalizing that I needed it more than my Nana did. I got in my car to drive to a friend’s house and can’t describe to you how intense of a euphoria I was feeling just shortly after drinking the bottle.

I leaned back in my seat, and just cruised along, bumping my “leaned out” rap music, and managed to pass out while driving on a major interstate highway in the DFW area of North Texas. 

I woke up pulled over on the shoulder of the highway and somehow managed to not get myself killed. I tell you what, I truly had angels watching over me because I have survived MANY instances that could have resulted in my death. 

The rational-minded person would think that this would be a wake-up call for me, but it still didn’t deter me from continuing to get high. 

After I got to my friend’s house, I had to go straight to the toilet and puked up the rest of what was still lingering in my stomach. I stayed high as a kite for the rest of the day and night. 

I can’t say that I have personally ever been addicted to lean all by itself. I was however a full blown opiate addict, and lean was just another opioid substance that I would take when it was available instead of the 20 Vicodin that I would often pop in a 24-hour period.

The times in my addiction where I ever had access to it were instances where my Nana would have it prescribed to her, and I would typically find this out because I would genuinely call to check on her and see how she was doing, and she would report back to me that she has bronchitis or pneumonia.

I knew then that if I were to go visit her that there was a pretty good chance she would have a fresh bottle of syrup there waiting for me. 

Addiction is seriously one of the most, if not the most, self-centered disease that there is. All you’re thinking about from each second of the day is how you’re feeling and whether or not it’s time to try to self-medicate and numb whatever deeper issue is present that you may be using to try to cope with and/or ignore.

Codeine addiction is just like that — a way to numb out.

I often used drugs just because I hated the way I felt emotionally, which stemmed from past trauma that started when I was as young as 3 years old.

It pains me to say that out loud in regards to my addiction, and especially all of the times I stole medication from people who actually needed it, but that just goes to show how sick and self-centered a person becomes when they are in the grips of codeine addiction.

The way that I could rationalize to myself that I needed it more than she did makes me feel sick to my stomach even right now as I’m writing this. 

Seek Treatment If You’re Addicted To Codeine Syrup, Or Any Other Drug For That Matter

If you are a person who is experiencing negative consequences from codeine addiction, or any other mind-altering substance for that matter, I recommend seeking treatment before it is too late. 

Withdrawals associated with discontinuing lean use can be some of the most horrific experiences a person could ever go through.

It’s like this — having restless legs that feel similar to having 100 volts of electricity going through your lower extremities, not being able to control yourself from crapping your pants, cold sweats, and just feeling often like you would rather die than have to live another minute in the crippling pain that comes along with trying to get off of a hard drug like this by yourself. 

Treatment centers are well equipped with medications necessary for helping you or anyone else who may be struggling to be able to have a smoother transition into the beautiful road of recovery. 

I hope that this has helped shed some light on this popular yet dangerous drug and can leave you with the hope that if a guy like me can get off of this crap, I promise you you can. 

It’s not an easy road, but it is well worth the pain and work that is required in order to gain the freedom necessary to be able to have a life that’s actually worth living!

Have you struggled with codeine addiction? I want to hear your story. Tell me about your experience in the comments.

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Ryan Henderson

Ryan Henderson is a magician and mental health advocate.