Revised April 2013
New drugs and drug use trends often burst on the scene rapidly. NIDA’s Community Epidemiology Work Group (CEWG) is a network of researchers in major metropolitan areas and some states across the United States that reports data on emerging trends and patterns in drug use. On this page we will provide periodic updates based on CEWG reports and other reliable information, as well as links for where to go for more information.
“Syrup,” “Purple Drank,” “Sizzurp,” “Lean”
Drinking prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine mixed with soda was referenced frequently in rap music beginning in the late 90s and has now become increasingly popular among youth in several areas of the country, according to recent CEWG data. Codeine is an opioid that can produce relaxation and euphoria when consumed in sufficient quantities. Promethazine is an antihistamine that also acts as a sedative. Users may also flavor the mixture with the addition of hard candies.
Codeine and other opioids present a high risk of fatal overdose due to their effect of depressing the central nervous system, which can slow or stop the heart and lungs. Mixing with alcohol greatly increases this risk. Deaths from prescription opioid medications now outnumber overdose deaths from all other drugs (including cocaine and heroin), and codeine-promethazine cough syrup has been linked to the overdose deaths of some prominent rap musicians.
- Drug Facts: Prescription and Over-the-Counter Medications
- The Partnership at Drugfree.org articles on cough syrup
Molly—slang for “molecular”—refers to the pure crystalline powder form of the club drug MDMA (3-4 methylenedioxymethamphetamine), which in pill form is known as ecstasy. Molly, which is usually purchased in capsules, has seen a surge in interest in the past few years, being celebrated frequently by popular music artists. MDMA in any form produces energy and euphoria in users but also may dangerously affect body temperature and cause confusion, depression, and sleep problems.
Users may be seeking out Molly to avoid the adulterants or substitutes known to be commonly found in pills sold as ecstasy, such as caffeine, methamphetamine, and other harmful drugs. But those who purchase what they think is pure MDMA as Molly may actually be exposing themselves to the same risks. Hundreds of “Molly” capsules tested in two South Florida crime labs in 2012, for example, contained methylone, a dangerous stimulant commonly found in “bath salts” (see video below). News reports elsewhere have reported “Molly” capsules containing cocaine, heroin, and other substances.
Get more information on Emerging Trends, we will update this page with the latest research findings as they develop.
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