“Lean,” a word that every South African will know but not for this secondary meaning. The craze around “Lean” seems to have firmly reached South Africa as worrying reports show that pupils as young as 10 are addicted to the drink concoction.
The term originates from rap culture where some US rappers helped promote the drink by showing it in videos and referencing it in lyrics. Lean consists of mixing codeine cough syrup with various fuzzy cool drinks usually Sprite.
The Daily Voice recently spoke to teachers from a Wentworth school in Durban, the teachers revealed that they had found empty cough-syrup bottles during a school ground clean-up. The teachers revealed that although the trend is most popular amongst Grade 7 pupils, Grade 5’s had also been known to use it.
“They told us there are two kinds of cough syrups that have a higher concentration of codeine and these were the ones they preferred.
“They buy these bottles from a seller in town. There is also another Schedule 2 cough syrup that they use, but I am not sure of that name.
“They mix half the bottle of the syrup with a two-litre cooldrink,”
Tracey William, founder of Wentworth Angels, also spoke to the paper about the mix and emphasised the dangers of drinking it.
“Pupils are mixing the cough syrup with cold drink and having ‘lean parties’ at home, in parks and now at school. Teachers and parents are oblivious as the ‘cocktail’ looks like cooldrink,”
“It is extremely dangerous when large amounts are consumed,”
Williams also said a 13-year old went into cardiac arrest after consuming the drink.
“The current trend of combining copious amounts of cough mixtures, particularly ones containing codeine and promethazine, together with a cold drink of choice, is extremely risky with multiple side effects.
“Pupils face the risk of going into a coma, suffering from respiratory-related illnesses, cyanosis (turning blue due to lack of oxygen), hypertension, non-reactive pupils and convulsions,” said local Dr Lana Wilkinson.
US rapper Lil Wayne has been a long time drinker/promoter of lean and has been rushed to the emergency room numerous times over the last few years with seizures.
Childline KZN said that lean is so popular due to it being cheaper than alcohol.
“Young people do not understand the dangers of the misuse of the medicine’s high codeine content. Codeine is South Africa’s most abused over-the-counter drug, and many consumers are not aware that the seemingly harmless medication they’re taking for the flu or for pain relief can be addictive.
The growing trend is concerning as the usage affects pupils during school sessions. Parents need to be extremely vigilant of its use among children and teenagers. All parents should be wary of where they store medicines and monitor their usage by their children.”