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What Is Lean and Why Is it So Dangerous?

Discover the hidden world of lean, a concoction that has gained popularity among certain circles but carries significant health risks.

We dive deep into the dangers of lean, its effects on the body, and the potential consequences of its misuse. Explore the facts, understand the risks, and empower yourself with knowledge to make informed decisions about your well-being.

If you or a loved one is suffering from a lean addiction, contact our alcohol and drug addiction treatment center and take your first step towards recovery.

Table of Contents

What Is Lean?

What Is Lean Drink? What’s So Dangerous About ItLean, also known as purple drank, dirty sprite, or sizzurp, is a recreational drug concoction made with prescription-strength cough syrups containing codeine and promethazine, mixed with soda and often flavored with hard candy or other sweeteners.

The lean drug, which originated from hip-hop culture and gained popularity in certain communities, is a dangerous and potentially addictive substance, and its misuse of lean can lead to various health risks.

To learn more about codeine addiction and how to get help, read our codeine addiction treatment page.

Is Lean Legal?

Even though cough syrups with codeine are legal when prescribed, when taken recreationally, codeine and lean are not legal and are considered illicit substances. In the United States, codeine is classified as a controlled substance due to its potential for abuse and dependence. Therefore, the production, possession, and recreational use of codeine and lean are illegal.

What are the Side Effects of Lean?

Drinking lean can have various effects on the body and mind, depending on the person’s previous experience with the substance and the amount consumed. The combination of codeine, promethazine, and other ingredients present in lean can produce both desired and undesired effects.

In addition to the euphoric experience people get from lean, they can also experience the following side effects:

  1. Sedation
  2. Respiratory depression
  3. Dizziness and confusion
  4. Nausea and vomiting
  5. Constipation
  6. Increased heart rate
  7. Dry mouth and throat
  8. Blurred vision
  9. Cognitive impairment
  10. Dependence and addiction
Sometimes, lean can even be fatal.


Lean can cause significant drowsiness and sedation, leading to a state of extreme relaxation and decreased alertness.

This can impair coordination and judgment, making it dangerous to engage in activities that require mental focus or physical coordination.

Respiratory Depression

One of the most dangerous side effects of lean is respiratory depression. It can slow down breathing to dangerous levels, potentially leading to oxygen deprivation and even life-threatening complications.

Dizziness and Confusion

Lean can induce feelings of dizziness and confusion, making it difficult to think clearly and make rational decisions. This can impair daily functioning and increase the risk of accidents or injuries.

Nausea and Vomiting

Consumption of lean can trigger nausea and vomiting, which can be uncomfortable and distressing. These symptoms may contribute to dehydration and electrolyte imbalances if not adequately managed.


Lean can cause severe constipation, leading to difficulties in bowel movements. Prolonged constipation can cause discomfort, bloating, and potential complications such as hemorrhoids.

Increased Heart Rate

The mixture of codeine and promethazine in lean can elevate heart rate, potentially putting strain on the cardiovascular system. This can be particularly concerning for individuals with pre-existing heart conditions.

Dry Mouth and Throat

Lean can cause dry mouth and throat, often referred to as “cottonmouth.” This can be accompanied by a persistent thirst and an uncomfortable sensation in the mouth.

Blurred Vision

Some individuals may experience blurred vision or difficulty focusing their eyes properly after consuming lean. This can further contribute to impaired coordination and increased risk of accidents.

Cognitive Impairment

Lean can affect cognitive function, leading to difficulties in concentration, memory, and problem-solving. These cognitive impairments can impact various aspects of daily life and functioning.

Dependence and Addiction

Continued and excessive use of lean can lead to dependence and addiction.

Codeine, one of the main ingredients in lean, is an opioid that can cause physical and psychological dependence over time, making it challenging to stop using without professional help.

Is Lean Bad for You?

The abuse of lean can have detrimental effects on both physical and mental health. Prolonged and excessive lean abuse can result in severe withdrawal symptoms when trying to stop its use. These symptoms may include agitation, anxiety, insomnia, muscle aches, sweating, and nausea. Lean abuse can also lead to respiratory depression, liver damage, and even overdose.

Is Lean Addictive?

Yes, lean can be highly addictive due to the presence of codeine, an addictive opioid substance. People who misuse or abuse lean may experience various symptoms indicative of a codeine addiction. These symptoms can include:

  • cravings for lean
  • increased tolerance requiring higher doses to achieve the desired effect
  • withdrawal symptoms upon discontinuation
  • loss of control over lean use
  • neglect of responsibilities, social and interpersonal problems
  • persistent use despite negative consequences

It is important to recognize the addictive nature of lean and seek professional help if you or someone you know is struggling with a codeine or lean addiction. Treatment and support are available to address addiction and promote recovery.

One-year prevalence use of codeine increased with age and was higher for women at all ages. Our study showed that codeine use was mainly sporadic, but that a relatively large sub-group of users were dispensed repeated prescriptions of the drug in combination with other potential drugs of abuse. (Bachs, et al.)

Can Lean Kill You?

Lean can be fatal when consumed in high doses. Codeine is an opioid, and opioid overdoses are particularly dangerous due to their suppressive effects on the central nervous system, which controls vital functions such as breathing and heart rate. Symptoms of a codeine overdose to look out for are:

  • slow or shallow breathing
  • extreme drowsiness or sedation
  • confusion or disorientation
  • constricted pupils
  • cold and clammy skin
  • weakness or limpness
  • blurred vision
  • nausea and vomiting
  • slowed heart rate
  • loss of consciousness or coma

If you suspect a codeine overdose, seek immediate medical attention by calling emergency services. Overdosing on codeine can be dangerous and requires immediate medical intervention to prevent severe complications or even death.Learn about how to overcome opioid addiction here.

How to Kick a Lean Addiction

When it comes to treatment for lean addiction, admitting that you have a problem and reaching out for help is the first step. At Ardu, we discuss treatment options with you and come up with a substance abuse treatment plan that works for your individual needs and levels of care.

Due to the high risk of withdrawal associated with codeine use, we suggest starting with a lean detox program before moving on to lean addiction therapy and continued care.

Codeine dependent users were more likely to seek help on the Internet to control their use of codeine than from a general practitioner, which may indicate a potential for greater specialized addiction treatment demand through increased identification and referrals in primary care. (Kimergard, et al.)

Lean Detox

Lean detox is a crucial step in recovering from a lean addiction. During detox, the body clears itself of the drug, which can cause a range of withdrawal symptoms. It is recommended to undergo codeine detox under medical supervision to ensure safety and comfort, as well as prevent relapse.

At our detox center, healthcare professionals provide the necessary support, monitor vital signs, and administer medications if needed to alleviate withdrawal symptoms. Plus, we offer a range of holistic therapies that help with detox for those who don’t want to use medication.

Learn more about the detox process and withdrawal symptoms associated with detoxing from lean and other opiates on our codeine detox page.

Lean Addiction Treatment

Lean addiction treatment involves a comprehensive approach to address both the behavioral health and the underlying mental health aspects of the addiction.

Therapeutic modalities such as dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) and cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) are among the best forms of therapy for lean addiction treatment.

DBT helps you develop skills to manage emotions, improve interpersonal relationships, and cope with stress, while CBT focuses on identifying and changing negative thought patterns and behaviors related to lean addiction.

Our drug addiction treatment program combines these therapies with support groups and holistic approaches, with the aim of promoting long-term recovery and providing you with the tools to maintain a healthy and drug-free life.

Start Your Sobriety Journey

There’s no reason to continue suffering from a substance abuse problem when modern science offers you a way out. What is lean dependency but a sign that you need help? Rise up again with the help of our drugs and alcohol rehab center. Contact Ardu Recovery Center addiction specialists today by calling 801-810-1234.

In addition to lean detox and rehab services, we also offer addiction treatment services for the following addictions:

FAQ About Lean and Addiction

Does Ardu offer dual diagnosis treatment?

Yes, we do offer dual diagnosis treatment services. At Ardu, we combine treatment for substance use disorders with mental health treatment and trauma treatment. This type of treatment provides comprehensive support for people struggling with both substance abuse and underlying mental health issues. By addressing both aspects simultaneously, we can help clients achieve lasting recovery and overall well-being.

Some of the co-occurring disorder treatments we offer are:

Does Ardu offer addiction treatment for young adults?

No, Ardu does not offer teen treatment programs. We do have an article where you can learn more about teen substance abuse. If you notice signs of drug or alcohol abuse in your young adult child, it is essential to take immediate action and seek appropriate treatment.

Look for specialized teen treatment programs that cater to the unique needs of adolescents, offering a safe and supportive environment, evidence-based therapies, educational support, family involvement, and aftercare planning. 

What should I look for in a drug addiction rehab?

When searching for a drug addiction rehab, it is important to consider several key factors to ensure you receive the best care and support on your journey to recovery. Look for addiction treatment centers that offer:

  1. Seek drug rehab centers that provide a comprehensive approach to addiction treatment, including medical detoxification, psychotherapy, counseling, and aftercare planning.
  2. Look for centers that offer evidence-based therapies, such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), individual and group counseling, motivational interviewing, and family programs.
  3. Ensure that the rehab center creates personalized treatment plans tailored to your specific needs, addressing underlying factors contributing to your addiction and focusing on your unique circumstances.
  4. Choose a rehab center with experienced and licensed professionals who specialize in addiction treatment, including medical doctors, therapists, counselors, and support staff.
  5. If you have co-occurring mental health disorders, seek a rehab center that offers dual diagnosis treatment, addressing both substance abuse and mental health issues simultaneously.
  6. Look for a rehab center that provides comprehensive aftercare support, including relapse prevention strategies, ongoing counseling, and access to support groups to help you maintain sobriety long-term.
  7. Consider the atmosphere and amenities of the rehab center, as a supportive and comfortable environment can greatly enhance your recovery journey as a part of experiential therapy.

Ardu strives to provide the necessary resources and support to help you achieve lasting recovery, both while at our recovery center, and beyond.

Is lean a popular drug choice for teens and young adults?

Yes, lean has gained popularity among some teens and young adults. Its association with popular culture, music, and social media has contributed to its appeal, especially in certain communities. The mixture’s sweet taste, combined with its sedative effects, can make it an attractive teen drug abuse choice. 

Does Ardu have a families program?

Yes, Ardu does have a family program. In it, you can expect comprehensive support and resources tailored to the needs of families affected by addiction. Our family therapy is designed to address the impact of substance abuse on the entire family system and provide a healing and educational environment.

Does Ardu have an inpatient treatment program?

Yes, Ardu does have an inpatient treatment program. An inpatient program, also called a residential treatment program, allows you to stay at a treatment facility during addiction treatment.

And, if you can’t commit to inpatient treatment, we also offer outpatient treatment options, including intensive outpatient programs and partial hospitalization programs, which you can attend while living at home or in a sober living facility.

Mina Draskovic, B.Psy., reviewed this content for accuracy on 7/8/23

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