10 Apr Sizzurp Addiction
Sizzurp is a common term for a recreational drug mixture that typically contains promethazine/codeine syrup, a prescription medication used to treat the respiratory effects of colds and allergies. Codeine belongs to a group of drugs and medications known variously as opioids, opiates, or opioid narcotics. Like all other substances in this group, it is capable of producing addiction when used repeatedly and/or outside of the guidelines established by a prescribing physician. People who develop sizzurp addictions can recover with the help of the same steps used for recovery from other forms of opioid addiction.
Sizzurp is also known by other names that include purple drank, Texas tea, lean, and purple jelly. These names come from different aspects of the mixture’s appearance, place of origin, and bodily effects. For instance, “purple drank” and “purple jelly” come from the color of promethazine/codeine syrup, while “Texas tea” points to the mixture’s apparent origin in Houston, Texas. “Lean” comes from sizzurp’s tendency to reduce muscle coordination and degrade the balance needed for normal walking. In addition to promethazine/codeine syrup, sizzurp formulas commonly contain some form of non-cola soda, some form of clear alcohol or some form of melted candy (usually pieces of fruit-flavored candies called Jolly Ranchers).
In addition to loss of muscle coordination, known effects of sizzurp formulas that don’t contain alcohol include intense pleasure (euphoria), sedation or tranquilization, and various degrees of mental incapacitation. Formulas that do contain alcohol add to sizzurp’s euphoric, incapacitating, and coordination-impairing effects, and also produce an increased tendency toward impulsive behaviors, as well as an increased tendency toward unpredictable acts of aggression.
Codeine occurs naturally in a sap-like substance produced by a plant known as the opium poppy (Papaver somniferum). However, the opioid narcotic that appears in promethazine/codeine syrup is a manmade equivalent of natural codeine called codeine phosphate. Inside the brain and body, the medication achieves its effects by targeting sites on nerve cells called opioid receptors. When activated by the presence of codeine molecules, these receptors do a number of different things. First, they help disrupt the experience of pain by disrupting the nerve signals that relay painful sensations from the body to the brain. Inside the brain, they reduce or suppress the natural urge to cough by slowing down the rate of communication between nerve cells called neurons. Under the influence of codeine, opioid receptors in the brain also encourage a buildup of dopamine, a neurotransmitting chemical that helps generate intense pleasure (euphoria) in a brain circuit called the limbic system.
It is codeine’s role in boosting the brain’s dopamine levels that accounts for the medication’s potential for abuse and addiction. With or without a prescription, some people take the opioid repeatedly and/or excessively out of a desire to re-experience its euphoric dopamine-related effects. Eventually, the continuing presence of codeine can alter the brain’s dopamine response and turn a voluntary desire for these effects into a compulsive need for drug use. Once this compulsion sets in, the affected individual will typically crave codeine on an ongoing basis and start to arrange his or life priorities around the satisfaction of these cravings.
When people addicted to the codeine content in sizzurp stop taking the drug mixture abruptly or seriously lower their regular intake, they typically develop symptoms of opioid withdrawal. These symptoms, which usually last for several days, commonly include highly unpleasant forms of things such as generalized muscle aches, cramping abdominal muscles, sleep disturbances, anxiety or other forms of mental agitation, nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Additional symptoms of opioid withdrawal include a runny nose, pupil dilation, excessive tear production, uncontrolled yawning and an increased sweat output. In many cases, people addicted to sizzurp or other codeine-containing substances continue their drug use out of an explicit desire to avoid going through withdrawal.
The most common medical treatment for withdrawal from codeine and other opioids is a medication called clonidine, the US National Library of Medicine reports. This medication achieves its effects by reducing withdrawal’s impact on a part of the body’s nervous system called the sympathetic nervous system. Other medical treatment options include temporary use of a replacement opioid called buprenorphine and use of an opioid blocker called naltrexone, which prevents codeine from gaining access to its target opioid receptors. Non-medication-based treatment or support options for addiction to the codeine content in sizzurp include a form of psychotherapy called behavioral therapy, group counseling, family counseling, and participation in a 12-step program geared toward narcotic use.
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