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"Purple Drank/ Sip Sip"


Recently the former Oakland Raiders quarterback JaMarcus Russell was arrested and charged with possession of a controlled substance. The drug was codeine syrup or “Sip Sip.” This drug is also known as “Purple Drank” or as “Lean” (Lean is a name attributed to Codeine because one has difficulty standing up straight after using it). Russell was a 24-year-old 1st round draft pick into the NFL receiving about $36.4 million through the 2009 season from Oakland. He was a part of an ongoing undercover narcotics investigation.


Russell did not have a prescription for the codeine and is now facing a felony charge. The NFL does not currently have a policy for cough syrup like they do other drugs. This is an unfortunate example of how drugs/ alcohol can override our instincts and even things that were once pleasurable for us. Russell obviously had a passion for the game when he played college ball at LSU, which resulted in his, first round draft position. He was also given an extraordinary amount of money that would set him up for life. He gave all this up for a momentary high. Now he is known as one of the all time biggest draft busts in the NFL. When he was released from the Raiders, the New York Jets voiced interests in signing Russell (which they now deny).


"What is “Sip Sip?” It is a combination of Promethazine and Codeine which is what we call cough syrup. Then syrup is then enhanced by adding something like Sprite or a Jolly Rancher to taste.


Promethazine is an anti-histamine and also acts to fight the nausea caused by the narcotic codeine. Codeine is an opiate derivative with anti-cough properties and the other active ingredient that makes this type of cough syrup sough after. The most popular purple-colored and grape-flavored version of this syrup has 60mg of codeine per liquid ounce making it one of the strongest codeine laced cough syrups. Codeine can enhance the effects of alcohol and in high doses have the same dangers and effects as morphine. It can cause respiratory depression, which can lead to the potential fatal consequences of overdose. People can lose consciousness and have convulsions. Those with prior respiratory problems such as asthma face even higher risks. Codeine is considered toxic at 240 mg for adults. Another common side effect is the reduction in sex drive and increased complications with erectile dysfunction.


Syrup has been glorified in musical lyrics with references to "sippin’ syrup" and "smoking’ sweets." The term "smoking’ sweets" refers to the soaking of a marijuana cigar/cigarette in syrup prior to smoking. Rappers like Lil Wayne and Kanye West have glorified the drug “Lean” in their lyrics. Lil Wayne wrote a song about missing his two friends who overdosed and died on “Lean” and his decision to keep on using the drug. The song is called “Me and my drink.” After losing his two friends, Lil Wayne admitted to his addiction to “Lean” and his family’s request that he stop using. "But I'm going through that same sh-- with my friends, with my mom. Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain't that easy." Lil Wayne said he can't just quit cold turkey. "Do your history, do your research," he vented. "It ain't that easy — feels like death in your stomach when you stop doing that sh--. You gotta learn how to stop, you gotta go through detox. You gotta do all kinds of stuff. Like I said, I'm a selfish-ass n---a. I feel like everything I do is successful and productive. It's gonna be hard to tell me I'm slipping. It's hard to sit and tell a n---a 'Stop.' 'F---, how can we tell this n---a to stop when every f---ing thing he do is successful? This n---a is making progress.”


This does not look like progress to me, it looks like a man in tremendous pain and confusion.

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