As the Medical Review Officer for U.S. HealthWorks, I keep one ear to the ground, listening for the latest in synthetic designer drugs out of Europe; our next Ecstasy or K2.
High tech variations of both the cannabis and the amphetamine family have recently become popular. In some things, Europe is definitely, and thankfully, ahead of us, namely illicit drug development.
There is a several year delay for those drugs to migrate from Europe and become popular here. This gives us time to learn about them before young people around here start dropping like flies.
But Huffing and Slurping (Sizzurp) are definitely “old school.”
Sizzurp (Purple Drank, Texas Tea) are all low-tech mixtures of cough syrup and soda pop. Promethazine with codeine is the world’s most popular prescription cough syrup. Nothing works like codeine to quiet down a cough.
Doctors in general don’t worry much about abuse as it only has 10 milligrams of codeine per teaspoonful, and it takes 60 or 90 mg to reduce pain. Promethazine is an antihistamine. Like Benadryl, it dries up a runny nose and clears the sinuses. The usual dose is 1 teaspoon every 4-6 hours as needed for a cough.
If you are more interested in anesthesia than controlling a cough, try mixing cough syrup with soda, and perhaps throw a Jolly Rancher in for good measure.
That is cough syrup codeine, promethazine, a boat load of sugar, and a straw.
My youngest daughter likes to mix things in a drink, like mustard, spices, lemon juice and peas. But she doesn’t actually drink it (though she sometimes offers it to me – “want some daddy?”). My initial reaction to Purple Drank is the same as to her concoctions – “gross!”
Codeine is a narcotic. And like all narcotics it distracts you from pain because it’s sedating, is a respiratory depressant, and is constipating. That sounds like fun! The antihistamine dries up your head (cotton mouth), and also sedates and acts as a respiratory depressant. Now we’re talking. Add alcohol and you can stop breathing. You’ve got to wonder about a person that would resort to this to escape. All this fun and cavities too!
Huffing is a throwback to glue sniffing days, which took place 40 or 50 years ago. Many household and industrial products have organic solvents in them that can be concentrated by inhaling them with a bag over your head.
This is best done sitting, so you don’t fall down and hurt yourself, or wander into traffic. The great majority of these chemicals are carcinogenic and cause nerve damage. Having a bag over your head when you experiment is also a good way to suffocate. All in all, it sounds like a lobotomy on a payment plan.
Everything old is new again. So it must be time to dig out the purple velour hip-hugger bell bottoms?
Yes, I really owned them. And I know you are secretly envious.
Donald Bucklin, MD (Dr. B) is a Regional Medical Director for U.S. HealthWorks and has been practicing clinical occupational medicine for more than 25 years. Dr. B. works in our Scottsdale, Arizona clinic.