When San Diego Chargers player Terrence Kiel was charged last month with illegally shipping cases of prescription cough syrup home to Texas, it illustrated a trend authorities say is spreading throughout the South and celebrated in rap songs, says USA Today. The Drug Enforcement Administration cited the rising popularity of a concoction that includes codeine-laced syrup mixed with a soft drink or sports drink. Cocktails known as “Lean,” “Syrup,” “Sizzurp” and “Purple Drank” – were popularized in rap mixes in the late 1990s by Robert Earl Davis Jr., a Houston disc jockey known as DJ Screw.
Since then, some teens and young adults have been getting high on drinks in which the key ingredient is a prescription cough suppressant that contains the opiate codeine. DEA aent Doug Coleman says users typically mix an ounce of the syrup with Sprite, a sports drink, or a regional soft drink called Big Red, then plop in a Jolly Rancher candy and pour it over ice. The opiate produces a feeling of euphoria and causes motor skill impairment that makes users move slowly or lean over. In 2004, 8.3 percent of Texas secondary school students reported having taken enough codeine syrup to get high, according to a survey by the University of Texas.