Abusing cough meds can kill you

Jade Mcduffie staff mug.( Leroy Burnell/postandcourier.com/10/16/2012 )

Rappers have been infatuated with cough syrup for years. Three 6 Mafia and UGK were “Sippin’ on Some Sizzurp” back in 2000. And while many rappers use street names like lean, purp and drank, some openly speak about their love for codeine and promethazine.

Lil Wayne is “used to promethazine in two cups” as he proclaimed in his song “Phone Home.” But the sizzurp king recently was hospitalized for several days for seizures possibly linked to the stuff. Hip-hop fans need to realize that although these songs are great to listen to, drug abuse is a serious problem and should not be tolerated.

According to Dr. Thaddeus J. Bell, cough syrup, when abused, is “highly addictive.”

“It’s not something I see on a regular basis as a family doctor. Most of the time those patients end up in the emergency room,” he said.

Codeine is a narcotic used in prescription cough medicine. But Bell said when dextromethorphan, used in over-the-counter cough medicines, is abused it can have the same effects as codeine. Promethazine is paired with either of the two to suppress coughs.

Bell said abusing cough syrup can cause psychological problems such as confusion, hallucinations and paranoia. It can cause gastrointestinal problems such as nausea and vomiting. It also can cause irritability and seizures.

“It can be a deadly drug,” he said.

And there’s a reason that many of these once over-the-counter-medicines are now behind the counter and require identification to purchase — so people under the age of 18 (19 or 21 in some states) do not abuse them.

“The biggest thing that can be done is to make sure parents keep what’s in their medicine cabinet protected. Parents just have to be aware,” he said.

He said that when a child, or anyone for that matter, starts to act bizarre, it’s time to ask questions. If you know someone who already abuses these drugs, emphasize that it could be deadly.

In 2007, UGK rapper Pimp C died from a respiratory depression from an overdose of promethazine and codeine. Seven years earlier he was raving about the drugs in “Sippin’ on Some Sizzurp.”

“Rappers are telling people you can get a buzz from it. When you mix it with alcohol … that’s a deadly combination,” Bell said.

The next year, in his song “Me and My Drank,” Wayne acknowledged Pimp C and DJ Screw, another rapper who died of the same overdose, by saying “Then I pour a little more for past Screw and Pimp C and I would stop, but believe it I can’t.”

That year he acknowledged his dependence on the drug in an interview with MTV News.

“Everybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain’t that easy,” he said.

So while Weezy and other artists aren’t rapping about how terrible drug abuse is, take note of what’s happened in their personal lives. You won’t have to worry about how hard it is to stop if you never start.

Reach Jade McDuffie at 937-5560 or jmcduffie@postandcourier.com.