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What is Lean?

Known for its popularity amongst teens and concert-goers, “lean” is a drink made by combining cough syrup and soda and candy into a drink. The effects of lean are similar to those of other drugs and carries a high level of risk of dependence, overdose, and dangerous changes on heart rate and breathing.

What Makes Lean Dangerous?

Lean is partially made up of cough medicine containing codeine, a Schedule II controlled substance. Schedule II controlled substances have a high potential for abuse and dependence, and as such, are considered dangerous by the United States Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). As a substance with a high potential for abuse, medicines containing codeine are often monitored and are restricted to those who have a prescription. Other cough syrups commonly found in lean are usually over-the-counter drugs and are often limited to those over the age of 18.

The effects of codeine can be dangerous and life-threatening when used incorrectly, such as using it in lean. Because codeine is considered an opioid, there are physical effects that a person experiences if they misuse the drug. A low heart rate and slower breathing are two of the more common symptoms which can be especially dangerous for people on certain medications or with unknown heart conditions. Those who use high doses of codeine could overdose on the substance causing their heart to stop. Codeine, when mixed with alcohol or other drugs, can increase the risk of deadly overdose or severe side effects.

Cough and Cold Medicine Addiction

As is the case with any drug use, misusing codeine can lead to addiction and dependence on the substance. Specific types of cough medicines, when misused, can have the same effect on the brain that other hallucinogenic drugs do. This means that misusing the drug can lead to a person seeing or hearing things that are not there. This can be a terrifying experience and can affect a person’s ability to make sound decisions. There are other physical symptoms people who misuse the drug can experience which can be alarming and have long-term effects on the body.

The continual misuse of cough medicines, especially those containing codeine, often leads to dependence on the drug. As use continues, a person develops a tolerance for the drug which leads to more frequent and higher quantities of use. This leads to a desire to use more of the drug to obtain the same feelings a person experienced before, and ultimately, they become addicted to the substance.

So Is Lean a Legal Substance?

Lean itself is not considered an illegal substance, but there are circumstances surrounding the use of lean that are illegal. Guidelines for purchasing medicines containing codeine can include limiting the quantity of medicines purchased in a period of time and age restrictions. Obtaining cough suppressants or medications without a prescription (when required) or through the use of a fake ID is illegal. Any attempt to circumvent the laws surrounding the purchase of codeine or cough suppressants is illegal. Because of the dangers of misuse of codeine, distributing or manufacturing products with the substance is illegal. This includes the production of lean for distribution or sale.

There Is Hope for Substance Use

Whether you or someone you love is exhibiting signs of addiction to a substance, such as lean, our team at Hope by the Sea can help. Our specialists have the experience to treat substance use disorders and any accompanying mood disorder. With programs for young adults, men, and women, our team is equipped to meet you or your loved one in any stage of life. Contact us today to learn more about our services.

Hope by the Sea will continue to follow the CDC guidelines regarding COVID-19. Visit CDC.gov for more information.
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