“Lean,” A New Hip High

Sep 29, 2006 1:14pm

It’s more than a drug; it’s a culture. It’s what’s known on the street as "Lean," a highly addictive cocktail of cough syrup, cold medicine, alcohol and candy — so potent it makes you "lean" over when high. The drug first began to get attention a few years ago, when a popular Houston DJ overdosed on it. At that time, it was easy to make and easy to get, says Ron Peters, a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health. "As far as across Texas, across also the southern part of the United States, estimates have shown that it to be at one time a pretty common drug of choice amongst kids…anywhere from ninth grade all the way up to young adults," says Peters. Authorities have recently tried to crack down on the drug, but while the crackdown has made it harder to get, it’s also made it easier and more profitable to traffic. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS High School Saying Cheese, But DEA Disagress Teen Attack Videos Lead to Arrests Outside Dallas Click Here for More of the Brian Ross Page "A year and a half to two years ago the price for a pint of codeine promethazene cough syrup was about $20 and was called a deuce, and for 16 oz, which was called a PT cruiser, would go for about $120 to $125," says Peters. "Now a pint of codeine promethazene would go for anything from about $250 all the way up to $350." Pharmacists, doctors and drug dealers from other states are getting into the act, says Peters.  Terrence Kiel, a player for the San Diego Chargers, was arrested this week for allegedly shipping large quantities of prescription-strength cough syrup to Texas, where Lean is most popular. He is expected to enter a plea in court next week.  Lean is so popular that it produced a Houston-based rap called screw music named after DJ Screw, who overdosed on the drug. The music takes hip-hop beats and slows it down to a crawl, reflecting the sleepy, laid-back feeling the drug gives its users. It was even the inspiration for a Top 10 song by the Oscar-winning group Three-Six Mafia, "Sipping on Some Syrup." Peters says the drug and the music have grown together. "One of the studies did show that a lot of children found out about what codeine promethazene was through the music," he says. "And some of them stated that their first time finding out about it was through the messages that were in this screw music." But, Peters says, the music is a way to make parents and the community aware of what is happening. He instructs parents to "always listen to some of the music some of our kids listen to," he says. "Whether they like or not, it can give them insight into what’s happening in their kids’ lives and open up dialogue."

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