<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Quote:</div><div class="ubbcode-body">Called "lean," "drank," "barre," "purple stuff," or "syrup," the drug is a combination of prescription codeine and promethazine hydrochloride cough syrup (PHCS), soda and candy. </div></div>
Also referred to as liquid heroin.
Speaking out Informing a Nation
CODEINE-LACED COUGH SYRUP
Excerpt: "...A deadly legacy
Although drug experts say they are not aware of any studies showing the definitive health effects of cough syrup abuse, some say researchers will learn of its sobering legacy on minority youths.
"Kids think it's a safe drug because it's something that doctors prescribe," said Troy Jefferson, manager of the youth drug treatment program at Riverside, which operates out of the Fifth Ward.
Jefferson said that nearly 50 percent of his juvenile drug addicts drink cough syrup, using it in deadly combinations: They dip marijuana joints and cigarillos in it. They pop Xanax.
"It's just a matter of time before we see the long-term effects, when these kids start turning 30, and they all of a sudden need kidney transplants," Jefferson said.
There is nothing new about abusing cough syrup with codeine, a highly addictive opiate made from the same poppy seed used for heroin. It has been documented as a drug habit since the 1960s, said Kenneth Hoffman, a medical officer for the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, a federal agency that monitors drug use.
And with a high enough dosage, a user can go into respiratory arrest and stop breathing. In 2005, 421 death certificates in Texas mentioned opiates, including codeine cough syrup, and other drugs as a cause of death, according to a report prepared by Jane Maxwell, senior research scientist at the Center for Social Work Research at the University of Texas at Austin.
"The worst-case scenario is you can die," Hoffman said.
Since the late 1990s, codeine-laced cough syrup has enjoyed a resurgence with the popularity of Screw music, a distinctive sound of rap that has a slow and chopped-up melodic flow. Screw artists such as Big Moe, born Kenneth Moore, praised it for its euphoric effects, the remedy to a hard-knock life.
"It's liquid heroin," said Al D. "Kids be looking at us, listening to our music thinking that they got to be drinking to be listening to our music, and we don't want them to do that."
Still often overlooked
But experts say the damage may have been done already. A 2002 study by sociologist Ronald Peters, an assistant professor of behavioral sciences at the University of Texas Health Science Center, found that codeine-laced cough syrup is a growing public health problem for black teens. Although Peters said it is not that easy to acquire anymore because of a crackdown by law enforcement, it is still often overlooked by health officials screening abusers..."