Purple Lean Drug: The 'Liquid Heroin' That's Big At Teenage Parties

23 May 2019, 07:54 | Updated: 23 May 2019, 12:40

Teenagers are turning lemonade, boiled sweets and liquid codeine into a potentially lethal drug.


The liquid Codeine is shipped in from Africa and France and can be easily bought on Instagram.

It has risen in popularity after rap stars in the US starting singing about it and taking it in their videos.

The drug takes around 20 minutes to kick in and lasts around three hours. It is popular amongst teenagers and students and one user told LBC it is "the drug to be seen with at parties".

In the US, the dangerous drink is often known as Sizzurp
In the US, the dangerous drink is often known as Sizzurp. Picture: Getty

Codeine is an opiate and has a similar effect to heroin or morphine and is highly addictive. It causes feelings of relaxation and drowsiness, confusion and nausea. Side effects also commonly include constipation.

It is a Class B drug, so possession without a prescription could result in five years in prison. Supplying could lead to 14 years in prison.

The drug advice website Frank states that codeine is especially dangerous to mix with alcohol and drugs like Valium and other opioid. They state: "Taking more codeine than prescribed to you by a doctor, or taking illegal codeine (such as from a friend, a dealer or website), increases the risk of overdose and other side effects."

A user with the ingredients of Purple Lean
A user with the ingredients of Purple Lean. Picture: LBC

The UK Addiction Treatment Centres website adds: "Regular users of codeine often develop both a physical and psychological dependence on the drug, which causes various symptoms whenever they try to quit.

"To avoid these withdrawal symptoms, many people will continue to use codeine, even if doing so causes negative consequences for themselves and others. It is this cycle of abuse that more often than not leads to a crippling addiction."

It is so addictive, doctors advise not taking it for more than three days.

LBC spoke to a user of Purple Lean
LBC spoke to a user of Purple Lean. Picture: LBC

Noel, a youngster who has taken the drug, told LBC: "I started using it at 17, having been introduced to it on social media and watching rappers taking it., obviously we wanted to try it. Kids want to see what they are seeing on YouTube.

"I started taking it a bit more when I got to 18. Now I'm taking it every weekend."

The drug craze has spread from the US, where rappers include their use of the drug in their lyrics and can be seen taking it in their videos - as can be seen below.


Noel revealed how the drug is being sold on Instagram: "People have their own lean pages to sell. Then there's a PayPal or Depop page they send you once you order it.

"There's a normal delivery time of 3-5 days and it will be with you. It will be classed a child's clothing, because they don't get checked as hard. It protects the shape of the bottles as well.

"It's so easy for kids to order it to their house and tell their mum it's some shoes."

One of the Instagram accounts - shut down following this investigation, where you can buy the liquid codeine
One of the Instagram accounts - shut down following this investigation, where you can buy the liquid codeine. Picture: Instagram

'Mitch', is a dealer of Purple Lean in the West Midlands. He told LBC: "It's getting bigger and bigger and bigger.

He said: "I tried it about two years ago. My mate was using the dark web at the time and he showed me how easy it was to get hold of it.

"Everyone was asking for it, couldn't get it and we realised you could charge what you wanted and people pay it. If you get a good weekend, you can make a few thousand pounds."

He also says the Police don't seem to be aware of how popular the drug has become:

"I haven't heard of anyone being done and prosecuted for selling bottles of lean yet. I don't think they've caught on yet to how big of a issue it is really."

If you want to talk to someone about drugs, you can talk to Frank. Call free on 0300 123 6600.