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On May 23, 2019, LBC’s award-winning journalist Rachel Venables broadcast a revealing investigation about Purple Drank’s arrival in the UK:

She received many negative comments to her Twitter thread on the subject, but, let’s keep in mind that the kiddos already know about it. She’s no doubt trying to inform parents and guardians:

Her article for LBC radio has more. Excerpts follow, emphases mine:

Teenagers are turning lemonade, boiled sweets and liquid codeine into a potentially lethal drug.

The liquid Codeine is shipped in from Africa and France and can be easily bought on Instagram.

It has risen in popularity after rap stars in the US starting singing about it and taking it in their videos.

The drug takes around 20 minutes to kick in and lasts around three hours. It is popular amongst teenagers and students and one user told LBC it is “the drug to be seen with at parties”

The drug advice website Frank states that codeine is especially dangerous to mix with alcohol and drugs like Valium and other opioid[s]. They state: “Taking more codeine than prescribed to you by a doctor, or taking illegal codeine (such as from a friend, a dealer or website), increases the risk of overdose and other side effects.”

The UK Addiction Treatment Centres website adds: “Regular users of codeine often develop both a physical and psychological dependence on the drug, which causes various symptoms whenever they try to quit.

To avoid these withdrawal symptoms, many people will continue to use codeine, even if doing so causes negative consequences for themselves and others. It is this cycle of abuse that more often than not leads to a crippling addiction.”

It is so addictive, doctors advise not taking it for more than three days.

One young man, Noel, now 18, started drinking it a year ago. Since then, he has increased his usage and takes it every weekend. He describes the ordering process on Instagram (!?!) for Purple Drank, also known as Purple Lean:

People have their own lean pages to sell. Then there’s a PayPal or Depop page they send you once you order it.

There’s a normal delivery time of 3-5 days and it will be with you. It will be classed as child’s clothing, because they don’t get checked as hard. It protects the shape of the bottles as well.

It’s so easy for kids to order it to their house and tell their mum it’s some shoes.

Mitch, a dealer in the Midlands, says he’s been making a lot of money by selling ‘lean’. He says that police are unaware of ‘drank”s popularity:

Everyone was asking for it, couldn’t get it and we realised you could charge what you wanted and people pay it. If you get a good weekend, you can make a few thousand pounds.

I haven’t heard of anyone being done and prosecuted for selling bottles of lean yet. I don’t think they’ve caught on yet to how big of a issue it is really.

The government’s ‘Talk to Frank’ service is for those who want to talk about drug addiction. Call Frank free on 0300 123 6600.

A commenter had this helpful information:

Purple Drank is an illegal recreational drink popular in the Southern United States rap community, whose main ingredients originally consisted of prescription strength cough syrup, containing codeine and promethazine, and either a carbonated soft drink (generally Sprite) or fruit juice. The purple-ish hue of Purple Drank comes from the dyes in the cough syrup. Recently, the term has expanded to cover mixtures including over-the-counter cough syrup and vodka in place of prescription cough syrup. Other terms for Purple Drank include Barre, Oil, Purple Tonic, Lean (or Southern Lean,) Drank, and Syrup (which is sometimes slangly pronounced as Sizzurp.)

After all this time, I thought we would escape the scourge of Purple Drank. Apparently not, sadly.

France began reporting on it in 2016. French pharmacists first noticed it in 2015. L’Internaute, a daily online news service, explained (translation mine):

The ingredients in this marvellous, dangerous mixture are all legal. Purple Drank is a mixture of cough syrup containing codeine, which is an opiate, and promethezine, an antihistamine neuroleptic, [combined with] alcohol and energy drinks. On the other side of the Atlantic, this beverage has created a very real health problem.

The consequences can be serious. Drowsiness, agitation, delirium and even convulsions: it’s not a pretty sight. And victims are mostly young people: adolescents from 12 years old up to young adults. Both boys and girls are affected …

Pharmacists were the first to notice this phenomenon. In 2015, the National Order of Pharmacists raised the alarm.

Since then, pharmacists, general practitioners, ER doctors and addiction specialists have been urged to report anything that ‘seems suspect, in particular, coming from young adults or adolescents’.

Parents, guardians: summer’s coming. Please be alert.

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