Lean is a sweet drink made up of a soda/fizzy drink mixed with a cough syrup containing codeine. This mixture is used as a recreational drug or a source of creative inspiration which makes the user feel intoxicated, and relaxed, sometimes sleepy.1
The main ingredient in lean is codeine, which is commonly found in over-the-counter cough mixtures 2 thus making it an easily attainable drug.
High doses of codeine can mimic intoxication similar to that of heroin and morphine. The drug induces hallucinations and vivid dreams which is the main reason users take this drug in particular, because they believe that the hallucinations support creative thinking.1 Lean dates as far back as the 1960s, where Southern Blues musicians in Houston would mix cough syrup with beer or wine. This trend of mixing cough syrup with other ingredients for relaxation purposes continued into the 90s.3 A person’s taste in a particular music genre will depict their likelihood of using lean. These associations are for fans of particular artists who are using this drug who consequently influence their fans to also start drinking lean.1
Teenagers are the primary consumers of lean, they use it as a recreational drug at parties, while others use it as a form of escapism from their lives; either due to loneliness or unstable home environments. Other teenagers drink lean because they believe it sparks their creativity and helps them function at their optimum, this thinking is influenced by the music they listen to and celebrities they look up to.4,6
Most teenagers turn to lean as their intoxicant of choice because they are of the thought that codeine is the safer option because it is legal and readily available at pharmacies.4,6