The Dangers of Lean Addiction in Youth

Home » Blog » The Dangers of Lean Addiction in Youth

Teenagers and adolescents often exercise poor judgment when they experiment, which includes using drugs and alcohol. Parents often look for signs that their child is drinking or doing drugs. What many moms and dads overlook is a potentially addictive concoction made from easily obtained sources. Lean addiction in youth is a widespread problem, making it important for parents to look for signs that their child may be suffering from it.

What Is Lean?

Lean is a drink made from cough syrup and soda. Also known as sizzurp, purple drank, and dirty sprite, lean has become a popular way for young people to become inebriated on easily found ingredients. Many teenagers and young adults drink lean in social situations, such as parties, as well as on their own. 

Because cough syrup often comes in a variety of flavors meant to disguise the taste of medicine, when it’s mixed with the type of soda they enjoy, many people find it to be an easy-to-drink, tasty beverage. Some people mix the concoction with gummy candies or candies such as Jolly Ranchers, creating the temptation of a candy-like taste with the very adult effects of a drug.

Why Lean Addiction in Youth Has Become a Problem

Young people in search of ways to achieve the feeling of being drunk or high often find it difficult to procure a lot of substances. The minimum legal age to purchase or consume alcohol in the U.S. is 21, which throws up a roadblock for many teenagers. While illegal narcotics often find their way into the hands of young people, many kids do not have access to them, cannot afford them, or fear the repercussions of taking them.

Lean addiction in youth can come about because teenagers believe the ingredients can’t be harmful. Most bathrooms have a bottle of cough syrup and they can be purchased at any pharmacy or grocery store. Sodas are available everywhere and are a favorite drink of young people. This fosters a false belief that combining the two probably won’t be harmful. 

Cough syrup that contains codeine provides the effect of relaxing the person consuming lean, and when used in excess, it can cause the sensation of being drunk or high. In addition, lean usage is promoted in certain celebrity circles, including in the rap music community, which can lead to gullible teens imitating them. 

Addiction to lean can happen quickly, compounded by the fact that young people lack the life experience to understand when they are in over their heads. Many continue to drink lean, not realizing they may be setting themselves up for a serious and deadly result.

Symptoms of Lean Addiction in Youth

The cough syrups used when making lean contain codeine, which is derived from the opium plant and has great potential for becoming addictive. What may start as fun, youthful experimentation can turn into an addiction that requires professional treatment. 

Cough syrup with codeine is meant to be taken in minor dosages, only for medicinal reasons, and just for the short-term. Young people who consume lean often drink it in copious amounts that are many times higher than is safely recommended. This puts them in jeopardy of dangerous side effects and even overdosing. 

Symptoms to look out for if you are worried that your child may have developed an addiction to lean include:

  • Slow heart rate
  • Slow breathing
  • Dizziness 
  • Slurred speech
  • Difficulty walking 
  • Constipation
  • Loss of memory
  • Impaired vision
  • Dental damage
  • Seizures
  • Hallucinations

Parents should also be aware of requests to buy excessive amounts of cough syrup, bottles of syrup going missing in the house, and empty bottles found hidden in the home or trash.

What To Do if Your Child Has Become Addicted to Lean

The sooner a person with an addiction to any substance gets help, the better, and this includes lean addiction. By the time addiction has taken hold, your child will need professional help to detox from the codeine and begin recovery. 

Some kids benefit from residential treatment, which involves living in a treatment center, while others do well in other types of programs. Non-residential programs, called outpatient, include regular outpatient programs, intensive outpatient, and partial hospitalization. These programs require varying amounts of time, from a couple of days a week to five days a week. 

Whether your child enters residential or outpatient treatment for lean addiction, they will receive a variety of treatment modalities that set them up for success in their sobriety. Treatment can include individual therapy, group therapy, medication-assisted treatment, holistic therapy, and other options. Many programs offer alumni support and help guide young clients toward success in their return to schooling and looking for work.

Treatment for Lean Addiction in Youth in Los Angeles

If you’re the parent of a child with an addiction to lean, we can help. Our detox and outpatient programs offer the skilled care needed for addressing lean addiction in youth. Our treatment plan helps young people become sober, address any co-occurring mental health issues, and prepare for success in their schooling and career goals. We include family therapy and parental coaching so the entire family can help their loved ones reach their full potential. Contact Launch Centers in Los Angeles today and get help for your child before it’s too late. Call us at 424-526-5339.

Our Team Members

Meet Our Clinical Team

  • staff member drug alcohol treatment los angeles

    Jess Beck, LCSW

    Clinical Director

  • treatment team los angeles ca

    Eric Chaghouri, MD


  • chloe kruskol los angeles rehab team

    Chloe Kruskol, LCSW

    Family Program Manager

  • treatment team los angeles ca

    Jose Hernandez, CADC

    Chief Executive Officer

Our Testimonials

Clients and Professionals Share Their Experience

  • HO

    Launch provided care on multiple levels. The highly skilled therapist coupled with the focus on purpose and long-term goals refocused my recovery from what previous treatment centers pushed onto me. I went from believing that I needed years of treatment to believing I needed years happiness and success. I began to focus on what I wanted to accomplish with my life. I came to realize all the things my addiction and mental illness had taken from me, and I used my future goals as a reason to never pick up again. Due to the passion that Launch instilled in me, I have pursued my future with excitement and dedication.

  • Nicole

    This place changed my life! I’ve had good laughs, good cries, shared a lot of heart to heart moments and grew a loving bond with everyone at Launch Centers. I will always be grateful!!! I really do miss it time to time. I highly recommend Launch Centers!

  • Joey

    The staff and clinicians are amazing and make you feel right at home from the second you walk in the door. I would absolutely recommend this place for a family member or close friend.


Latest Blogs

Oct 7, 2022

Avoiding Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms for Trauma

October is Emotional Wellness Month, and learning about

Sep 16, 2022

How to Help an Alcoholic Child

When you have a child, regardless of if you are the mot

Mental Health + Substance Abuse Treatment in Los Angeles
(877) 895-3231