The dangers of Codeine

You’ve probably heard about the Lean (codeine) trend that lots of young people are into these days and you may have seen one or two people mix cough syrup with soda at a party or hangout. Is this trend safe? Not at all, Choma. Let me tell you why.

What is Codeine?

Codeine is an ingredient that is usually added to painkillers and cough syrups. Codeine increases a person’s tolerance to pain and any medication that contains it, is available only by doctor’s prescription. The drug is mostly used to relieve mild pain and reduce coughing. When used correctly and as prescribed by a doctor, it can help patients suffering from cold-related pain and coughing. However, when it is misused, the effects can be dangerous.

‘Lean’ is a drink that people make by mixing cough syrup that contains codeine with soda. It is extremely addictive and can make people feel ‘high’ when they drink it.

What are the effects?

The immediate side effects of codeine are different for every user and they depend on the amount taken. These side effects can be anything from mild to life-threatening. Some of the short-term side effects include:

Drowsiness (feeling sleepy)

Itching or rash

Constipation and stomach cramps

Nausea (feeling sick)

Dry mouth

Blurred vision

Low blood pressure


Seizures (fits)

One of the long-term effects is becoming addicted to codeine since it is an extremely addictive drug. If you suspect that you or a friend could be addicted, then it might be a good idea to contact Narcotics Anonymous on their helpline: 011 509 0031 / 083 900 6962.

Mixing alcohol and codeine

On its own, codeine can be quite dangerous, but when mixed with alcohol (or any other drug) it is bound to have life-threatening effects. It can lead to extreme fatigue, headaches, mental disturbances, low blood pressure, memory loss, delayed muscle movement and reaction time, slow breathing, fainting, coma, and even death.

Codeine should only be used if prescribed by a health care professional. Although “leaning” looks cool and can make you popular with your friends, it’s not worth risking your life. Don’t take chances when it comes to your health or safety, Choma. Remember that having fun doesn’t have to be irresponsible or dangerous.

Should you or a friend need advice or help, you can contact me on Ask Choma, send me a Facebook Messagea Twitter DM, or a WhatsApp Message (071 172 3657). Take care.