Sizzurp in the News - Lil Wayne, etc.


It’s not uncommon for the non-drug-using public to first hear about a popularly abused substance by way of some celebrity overdosing. After all, propofol wasn’t in our lexicon until after Michael Jackson’s death. And now, Lil Wayne is in the hospital, suspected of succumbing to "sizzurp."

What, you ask, is sizzurp? According to reports, it’s a drink made from codeine-containing cough syrup and flavoring additives like dissolved Jolly Ranchers or soda pop.

How Sizzurp Became Popular

In a culture where heroin, crack and other "heavy" drugs are available, why would anyone go down the road of prescription cough syrup? The answer comes from the same city streets where Lil Wayne grew up (in his case, New Orleans).

The inner-city drug culture is divided generally into two camps – the dealers and the addicts. And just like everyone else, the dealers look down on addicts. There is no "addiction is a disease" attitude here. Addiction marks you as a weak person, a victim and someone who cannot be trusted. A drug dealer who starts to use his own product is liable to get tarred with the same brush.

But drug dealers are human too. They want to party and are already outside the law. Except they can’t dip into the crap they sell on the streets or else risk losing their reputation. Alcohol is OK, and there are endless rap songs about splurging on Cristal champagne. Marijuana is fine too. But what to do for a better buzz? Enter sizzurp as an accepted alternative to "street" drugs.

Codeine-containing cough syrup is a nasty-tasting concoction that already has alcohol in it along with other drugs meant to loosen congestion or stop allergic symptoms. Diluting it with soda or flavoring it with hard candy will help the taste, but there’s no way to avoid getting the other drugs along with the narcotic (codeine) part. This is thought to be triggering Lil Wayne’s seizures. Specifically, overdosing on promethazine, a drug in the cough syrup that helps with allergy symptoms. Side effects include tremor and agitation.

It isn’t yet official that sizzurp is the direct cause of Lil Wayne’s hospitalization. Because of patient confidentiality, we may never know for sure. But he does mention the concoction in his songs, and those close to him say he’s still hooked on the stuff.

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