Purple drank is a recreational drug, created by combining cough syrup with a soft drink and hard candy. The concoction originated in Houston, Texas and is popular among those who belong to the hip hop subculture or reside in the southern United States
The term purple drank is a nod to its purple hue, as most cough syrups are purple in color, and drank is an informal term for a beverage, especially an intoxicating drink, used by English speakers in the United States. Other names include sizzurp, lean, syrup, drank, barre, purple jelly, Texas tea, dirty Sprite, and Tsikuni.
Traditionally, the base for purple drank has been prescription cold medicine, specifically cough syrup, one that contains both promethazine and codeine, but over-the-counter cold medicine that lists dextromethorphan as the active ingredient has also been used, as it can produce similar effects and eliminate the need for a doctor’s visit. To create a drinkable mixture, the cough syrup is combined with Sprite, Mountain Dew, or grape-flavored Fanta and is typically served in a styrofoam cup. A hard candy, usually a Jolly Rancher, may be added to give the mixture a sweeter flavor.[1
The physiological effects of purple drank on the user is to produce mild “euphoric side effects”, which are accompanied by “motor-skill impairment, lethargy, drowsiness, and a dissociative feeling from all other parts of the body.” Houston author Lance Scott Walker noted that the super-sweet combination of soda, cough syrup, and Jolly Ranchers provides a flavor and mouthfeel, which stays on the tongue for an extended duration. This phenomenon is often appealing to first-time users. Purple drank is often used in combination with alcohol and/or other drugs.
The cough syrup used in purple drank contains codeine and promethazine (not to be confused with the recreational use of dextromethorphan). Promethazine induces a liver enzyme (CYP2D6) that makes codeine much stronger than it is alone, somewhat like the glutethimide (Doriden) and codeine combination that was popular on the streets from the seventies up to the early nineties when glutethimide was discontinued by manufacturers. A number of deaths have been attributed to this combination