Purple Drank/Lean

What is ‘Purple Drank’ aka Lean

This is a term used for a recreational drink that combines the following:

  • Liquid medications that can be purchased over the counter from a pharmacy (or via prescription and online) that contain codeine, promethazine or dextromethorphan.  These may be purchased as individual medicines and mixed together.
  • Soft drinks
  • Fruit-flavoured sweets to improve taste

When these medicines are mixed together to create ‘purple drank’ users can easily lose track of how much of the active drug they have consumed as the liquid is masked by pleasant or familiar flavours from soft drinks.

What are the effects of taking ‘purple drank’?

These will vary depending on the contents of the drink. However, users have reported euphoric and dissociative effects.

Other effects may include:

  • constricted pupils
  • slow or slurred speech
  • uncontrolled eye movement
  • droopy eyes
  • slowed heart rate
  • drowsiness, loss of balance
  • loss of coordination
  • paleness
  • The ability to drive may be also be impaired, and young people have complained of ‘memory problems’ after taking the drink.

There is a risk of overdose particularly due to the use of codeine, which may be increased when taken in combination with alcohol.


Harm reduction advice should be offered including:

  • Risk of overdose which may be increased if taken with alcohol
  • Never to use this alone
  • Reinforce that whilst these medicines can be legally sought, when taken above the recommended doses the effects may be very damaging
  • Ensure that users are aware of the dangers of driving whilst under the influence of these concoctions.