MASENTLE NTHOLENG

 Not that it is condoned, but with the tough economy and stressful academic activities that Tuks has so lovingly and patiently prepared for us, Perdeby can understand why people are so innovative when it comes to cheaper and more creative ways to get high.

Got some cough syrup? You might even know it as “lean”, “drank”, “purple jelly” or even “Texas tea”. This is the latest drug that has hit the social scene, and unlike most social drugs, your mother could actually be one of your suppliers.

So what exactly is syrup, often pronounced “sizzurp”? It is often a soft drink, energy drink or alcohol laced with cough mixture that contains the highly addictive prescription drug codeine. Codeine is a narcotic put in the same class as morphine and heroin, which, in addition to pain relief, all target the part of the brain that experiences extreme pleasure. Unlike stimulant drugs like cocaine, codeine is a suppressant, which relaxes you. Perdeby asked a couple of users about the effects of “drank”.

“Sizzurp hits you up and gets you drowsy. It has a very calming effect. It works like a sedative and stays effective for about thirty to forty minutes, all depending on your tolerance”, Thabo* said when asked about the effects of drank.

“I was first introduced to it when I was sick with the flu. I had seen a documentary on television about Lil’ Wayne, and when asked about what he took, he mentioned sizzurp. I became curious, and ended up finding myself taking cough mixture long after my flu was gone”.

Tshepo*, after discovering this drug by accident, decided to stop after finding out about its addictive properties.

Steve*, another user, explained sizzurp’s economic advantages, suggesting why it would fit into a student budget so well: “Sizzurp is cheaper than buying a bottle of alcohol or some weed. It is also very effective, and depending on the amount you take, a bottle of cough mixture could last you up to two weeks. It is also easy to obtain. You can get it from your local pharmacist to your hypermarket, and nobody really cares about what you do with cough mixture. People automatically think you are sick.”

The trend got international attention when Terrence Kiel, a player for the San Diego Chargers, was arrested in 2006 for having cases of cough syrup shipped to his home. The drug then got popularised by rap artists such as Three 6 Mafia and a popular American disc jockey DJ Screw who died of a cocaine and codeine overdose.

The dangers of this social drug, like any other addictive substance, can be fatal. So to answer your question: yes, kids, cough mixture can kill.

High doses may lead to restlessness, itching, and kidney and liver damage. An overdose can lead to a repressed respiratory system and death. Using codeine over a long period will affect every part of your body: the heart, lungs, muscles, brain, eyes, reproductive, digestive and immune system. You get the picture.

Despite the worrying effects and symptoms, some people still find sipping on sizzurp socially acceptable. “It is considered by a lot of people to be normal. If you see somebody smoking crack, you ask yourself what is wrong with this person. If you see somebody with a cup of syrup, then that is just a player doing his thing,” said Dr Ron Peters, Professor at University of Texas School of Public Health, when speaking on ESPN about the growing popularity of codeine use.

Now that you know about it, the point that Perdeby is making is for you nit to try this at home, or the Square, or anywhere else, for that matter. The use of social drugs often leads to addiction, as we all know. Although the risk factors are not often taken into consideration while taking these substances, you need to remember that curiosity killed the cat, and if you are not careful, curiosity might just kill you.

*Not their real names

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