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Codeine and Promethazine - Addiction, Withdrawal, Detox and Treatment
Lil Wayne - Addicted to Codeine?
Sippin on syrup, lean, purple drank – whatever you call it, drinking codeine and promethazine containing cough syrup will get you high, but it's also dangerous and since codeine is a narcotic, it's pretty addictive. Addictive enough, in fact, that if you sip enough of that syrup, you could end up going through a heroin withdrawal like period of detox.
Made famous through southern screwed and chopped hip hop music, and centralized out of Houston, syrup killed rap artist Pimp C last year, and Lil Wayne has admitted to a serious addiction to the drug.
Sippin syrup will get you feeling pretty good. Codeine is an opiate, similar to other notable opiates like heroin, morphine, oxycontin or vicodin. Codeine happens to work well as a cough suppressant, but like all other opiates, it also works to control pain, and notably, to make you feel very good.
Codeine, when taken in larger than recommended doses will create feelings of contentment, euphoria, relaxation, sleepiness and well being.
Promethazine is an antihistamine, and also a CNS depressant. Promethazine works to increase the potency of the codeine. Promethazine mixed with codeine gets you higher.
Users generally mix a small amount of the cough syrup together with sprite, soda or fruit juice, and often a hard candy like a jolly rancher as well. The drink is slowly sipped leading to a sense of contentment, and well being. In larger doses, euphoria and un-coordination can result. The drink is sometimes called lean because of the way people on syrup tend to walk.
Medications That Don't Mix With Sizzurp
- Other narcotic pain medications, such as hydrocodone, tramadol, morphine, fentanyl, methadone, heroin and many others.
- Antihistamine (chlorpheniramine – azatadine – brompheniramine and others)
- Sedatives (seconal, Solfoton, Luminal, Amytal etc.)
- Anti depressants
- Any medications that warn of drowsiness or sleepiness.
- Many others
What is it?
Certain brands of prescription cough suppressant work through two active medicinal ingredients – codeine and promethazine.
Codeine is a derivative of morphine, and an opiate, and promethazine is an antihistamine. When the two drugs are taken in large quantities, both medicinal ingredients interact with one another to increase the potency of the high. As both are CNS depressants, taking the drug in large enough quantities can lead to respiratory depression, a slowing of breathing, and in severe cases, a stoppage of breathing and an overdose death. (The cough syrup is not dangerous when taken as directed, although because of its CNS depressant qualities, it should not be taken with alcohol or other CNS depressing medications.)
Codeine, like all opiates, is very addictive, both psychologically, and physically. If you use codeine and promethazine cough syrup for a couple of weeks, every day, you will become physically dependent on the drug. If you become physically dependent on the drug, you will need to take it every day, or more than once a day, just to keep the sickness of codeine withdrawal and detox at bay.
Although codeine is not as potent or addictive as heroin, the addiction and withdrawal symptoms share many similarities to a heroin addiction and withdrawal.
If you abuse codeine and promethazine cough syrup too regularly, you will get addicted, and getting addicted to opiates is no fun at all.
In large doses, you can die.
If you take it recreationally with certain other medications, you also risk an overdose.
If you use it recreationally, and you suffer from certain medical conditions, you could suffer a fatal overdose.
Opiates are central nervous system depressants. Promethazine is also a central nervous system depressant. They both slow you down, which is part of why people enjoy taking the drugs, but also why they can be quite dangerous.
These medications will slow down your breathing. If you take them in high enough doses, your breathing can slow down so much that you die from it.
If you take these medications with other CNS depressant medications (like other prescription pain killers, alcohol, certain anti depressants etc.) the addictive and cumulative effects of the medications can result in an overdose. And an overdose can result in death. Abusing codeine and promethazine recreationally is dangerous, but abusing it recreationally while taking other medications is very risky.
Pimp C died in his sleep after taking codeine and promethazine. He had sleep apnea which interfered with his breathing, and when combined with the respiratory depressive effects of the medication, killed him.
Regular users of the drug will develop a tolerance and need to take ever greater doses to get high. As you take greater doses of the CNS depressing medication, your risk of overdose increases.
- DJ Screw
- Pimp C
- Big Moe
- Methadone or Cold Turkey?
An article weighing the pros and cons of methadone versus drug rehab
If you play for too long with codeine and promethazine, you will pay the price of a very uncomfortable detox and withdrawal period when you try to stop.
Withdrawal symptoms include:
- Restless legs
- Muscle aches
Withdrawal pains will last from a few days to a week, and can be very tough to overcome without some help.
Cough syrup doesn’t seem as scary or serious as heroin or even oxycontin but the withdrawal period is rough, and you will probably need some help to get off.
To get off, you can
- Go cold turkey
- Wean yourself off
- Get into an opiate substitution program – like methadone or Suboxone.
A cold turkey detox is fastest, but toughest.
Weaning yourself off the medication can work, and if you have the discipline, and are in no real rush, can be a reasonably effective way to get off the drug. The key to weaning down off of codeine and promethazine is not to hurry. Try going down by 10-20%. Reduce your daily dosage by 10-20% and wait until that feels ok before attempting to again reduce the dosage.
A good tip is to have a trusted friend or family member control your access to the medication, to ensure that you actually stay on course with your daily dosage reductions. Have a friend (preferably a sober friend) mix the drinks for a while.
The last option is to participate in an opiate substitution program, like methadone or suboxone (buprenorphine). These are medications that you take instead of the cough syrup. They will keep you from feeling sick, but will not get you high. You will gradually need to reduce your dosage off of these medications.
Opiates are fun. They feel good and they are seductive, and it's so easy to get sucked into an addiction.
It doesn't take long at all, and before you know it – you're a junky, and once you are, getting off is tough.
If you're not yet addicted, make sure you stay that way. If you plan on continuing to use codeine and promethazine recreationally, make sure you don’t get high every day. The more often you get high, the greater your risk of addiction.
If you’re thinking about experimenting with a little purple drank – wondering what all the fuss is about – make sure you understand the risks, and think hard about whether or not it's worth it.
- Codeine and Promethazine
More information on the detox and withdrawal here.