Promethazine with Codeine Cough Syrup

Irresponsible and illicit use of prescription cough medicine began in the early 1990s. The practice of combining Codeine-based cough syrup with the strong antihistamine drug Promethazine and then mixing the drugs with soda and candy originated in Houston, Texas. According to Wikipedia, it quickly became popular among rappers from the region, and goes by many slang terms including sizzurp, purple drank, purple jelly and dirty Sprite.

This combination is certainly not the first instance of people mixing different substances to achieve an even greater high. In fact, it’s a practice that’s been done throughout history. However, combining two strong drugs to form an even stronger drug can obviously make the chance of overdose much more prevalent when compared to taking only one drug at a time.

Promethazine with Codeine Cough Syrup
Purple drank is formed using cough medication that contains both Promethazine, which is an antihistamine, with Codeine, an opioid. Promethazine with Codeine cough syrup is a prescription drug used to treat severe and painful coughing associated with severe illnesses like the flu. When ingested in large doses, however, these strong drugs can induce a high that gives the person taking it a type of “out-of-body” experience. There are other, less desirable side effects that occur from long-term misuse of this cocktail. According to narconon, these include slow, slurred speech, raspy voice, drowsiness, loss of balance, coordination and motor skills, and of course, the psychological disease of addiction.

These side effects may be decidedly less terrifying than those of some other street drugs, but users should be aware that Promethazine with Codeine cough syrup has an extremely high rate of accidental overdose. When too much Promethazine and Codeine are ingested, the resulting overdose can lead to respiratory depression, heart attack or death. This is because both drugs individually are meant to suppress the respiratory system in order to stop coughing and inhibit symptoms related to an allergic reaction. As such, large doses of this combination of drugs are particularly dangerous. To further this point, the deaths of several prominent rappers have been attributed to purple drank.

Not only is the combination dangerous, but antihistamines are known potentiators of Codeine, further repressing respiration and causing an increase in the thickness of bronchial secretions.

What does it mean to be a potentiator? According to Wikipedia, in clinical pharmacology, a potentiator is a drug, herb, or chemical that intensifies the effects of a given drug. Many different substances can be used to potentiate, or strengthen, codeine. If you’re wondering, “does promethazine potentiate codeine,” the answer is yes. The added promethazine in purple drank does give the codeine increased strength—this is another reason this concoction so dangerous. Other codeine potentiators include Benzodiazepines, antihistamines, antacids, and taking the drug on an empty stomach.

If you or a loved one could be struggling with substance use disorder involving Promethazine with Codeine cough syrup or other drugs, we invite you to contact our compassionate and well-trained team at The Recovery Village. Even if you just have questions you’d like answered, we’re here and ready to help in any way we can.

Promethazine with Codeine Cough Syrup
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