Parents: Teens use cough syrup to get high

Parents: Teens use cough syrup to get high »Play Video
TRI-CITIES, Wash. -- A dangerous homemade concoction involving cough syrup is becoming popular among teens. It has a lot of different nick names such as sizzurp, purple drank, or liquid codeine. Local experts say they are seeing lots of users right here in the Tri-Cities. Some are even becoming addicted to the dangerous concoction. KEPR spoke with a recovered user.

Nole Vest has been clean for 12 years. But before that, not so much. He did lots of different drugs, including one that's gained popularity again, a concoction involving cough syrup.

"We would just walk right out the store with it and we just used to go to somebody's house and basically drink it all day," Vest said.

It can be made with or without codeine. Cough syrup found over-the-counter has a drug called DXM in it which gives the same high as the prescription stuff that includes codeine, which is a controlled drug.

"It's happening in the Tri-Cities," said Clinical Director, Jaime Carson.

Experts say the sizzurp cocktail typically has three ingredients; cough syrup, sprite, and a jolly rancher. The added sugar is key.

"You add that, plus the minute alcohol that's in the cough syrup, plus the codeine, that's a rapid absorption of drugs," said Carson.

Carson works at a counseling center. She's heard accessibility is key in the popularity of this drug. Aiding in the reason why it's a hit among the teens.

"You know anything that you don't need specifically a fake ID or have to know friends that know friends that can find this or find that. It makes a huge difference," said Vest.

Teens find it easy to hide from unsuspecting parents.

"It's something that can be sitting on the counter and your parents don't really think one way or the other - if they walk in and they see it, you just, 'cough cough cough, I just wasn't feeling well', it's a really easy way to get away with it," he said.

If you see empty bottles in your home, it might be a time to begin asking questions.

Experts say Sizzurp has been around for years. It's been called Robo-tripping before. The substance began resurfacing after reports that Justin Bieber is a fan and Lil Wayne was recently hospitalized for seizures after overdosing on the drink. Stories like this aren't intended to put ideas in kids' heads that they haven't thought of before. Kids have heard of this. In fact, a recent DEA report said one in ten teens admits to using cough syrup or cold medicine to get high. So it's on the parents to take a proactive approach.

Counselors suggest you start with a conversation with your teen to talk about the dangers. Some warning signs that someone is using could include speaking in a slow, lethargic manner, missing quantities of codeine-based cough syrups, and doctor-shopping to fill multiple prescriptions of codeine syrup.