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What Is Lean? Bow Wow Speaks On Former Addiction

Newsweek logo Newsweek 9/13/2018 Kelly Wynne
Shad 'Bow Wow' Moss speaks at the WE tv's Growing Up Hip Hop Atlanta premiere screening event on May 16, 2017, in New York City. The rapper revealed he was once addicted to cough syrup-based drink "lean.": GettyImages-683941794 © Bennett Raglin/Getty Images for WE tv GettyImages-683941794

Rapper Bow Wow took to Twitter Monday to tell his followers he was once a drug addict, with his drug of choice being a drink called “lean.” 

“I’m going to let something out. When me and Omarion worked on FACE OFF album I was high off lean every day! When yall saw me on BET going off on Torae I was high off lean. My attitude everything changed," he tweeted. "I never promoted lean in my songs. The whole time I was on the 'UCP' tour with Chris I WAS SIPPING 4’s at least seven times a day. I was addicted until our show in Cincinnati. I came off [stage] and passed out woke up in the hospital. I was having withdrawals.” 

Lean, also called “Purple Drank,” “Purp” or “Sizzurp” is a mix of cough medicine containing codeine and promethazine, according to The Oaks Treatment. The cough medication is combined with select types of soda to make the drink. Candy, like jolly ranchers, are sometimes added for flavor. Everything needed to make the drink at home can be found at a typical grocery store.

The drug has been publicized by musicians numerous times. Miley Cyrus mentioned the drink in Mike WiLL Made-It’s 2013 single “23,” when she sang lyrics “I’m in the club high of purp’ with some shades on.”

Young Thug sipped the drink during an interview with The Guardian in 2015 and was seen injecting the drink through an IV on his Instagram story in December 2017, according to TMZ. Rapper Chief Keef detailed he’d quit the drug in an interview with Billboard in 2013. “My last two mixtapes were mistakes," he said. "I was on promethazine, all drugged out. I was tweaking. I don't sip the lean no more though."

The drink is called lean because of its ability to make users “lean over,” USA Today reported in January 2014. The combination of drugs in the cough syrup can produce a euphoric feeling that is also sedative. Users risk seizures and heart failure when the syrup is consumed in large doses.

Bow Wow asked his followers to stop taking the drug and noted he will never be the same after his experience with it. “Kick that s***! Be a good son or daughter. Be the best you. Ima start being more vocal. We gotta save the youth from going out early. Parents watch your kids. Explain to them. We want y’all to live man. I almost died f****** with syrup.”

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