Q. What is sizzurp? What should parents know about it?
A. Sizzurp wound up in the news this month after rapper Lil Wayne entered California's Cedars-Sinai Medical Center with multiple seizures. Lil Wayne's people deny the health scare was due to drug use, but others speculate the seizures were caused by his fondness for sizzurp, a concoction used to get high that's been in the lyrics of Lil Wayne's and other rappers' songs.
Sizzurp is prescription cough syrup -- which has promethazine and codeine -- mixed with carbonated, flavored soda such as Mountain Dew or Sprite and peppered with Jolly Rancher candies that dissolve into the cocktail, says Harris Stratyner, vice president and New York regional clinical director of Caron Treatment Centers, which offers inpatient and outpatient treatment for drug and alcohol addictions. Kids also may refer to it as lean or as purp, because it's purple.
"Parents should know that it's deadly," Stratyner says. Tweens and teens may try it for several reasons, he says: One, the cough syrup is a relatively easy prescription to acquire and might be more readily available on the street. Two, it tastes good. And three, kids may see it as more innocent than illegal drugs; they think that because doctors prescribe cough syrup, it can't be that harmful. "The problem is, if you use it off-label, it can be extremely dangerous," Stratyner says. "It's very easy to overdose on it. They're taking bottles of the syrup and pouring it in."