Syrup is Becoming Popular Nationwide - KTRE.com | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

10/02/06 - East Texas

Syrup is Becoming Popular Nationwide

by Ramonica R. Jones

'Sippin' on Some Syrup' is just one of several songs glorifying the high you can get from drinking cough medicine mixed with soda. You can also get a buzz by mixing codeine-based syrups with alcoholic beverages, but the high can be deadly.

Misusing cough syrup can cause respiratory depression - that's when your brain tells your lungs to stop working. Overdosing on the drug can also cause convulsions and seizures. East Texas pharmacists are now keeping a close eye on who they sell it to.

Brookshire Brothers pharmacist, Brandon Carver, said, "You can kind of tell by people coming back all the time, weeks on end, buying more than one or two bottles at a time. Also, you can tell when somebody comes in saying they're buying it for them this time, buying it for somebody else next time - not only cough and cold season, but all year round."

Cough syrup abuse became popular many years ago in Houston, but soon became a big problem outside the south. Last week, federal authorities arrested former Lufkin Panther football player, Terrence Kiel. He's accused of shipping at least two parcels of prescription cough syrup to Texas.

"It is over the counter and it doesn't require a prescription, so it's kind of difficult to make those kind of judgment decisions," said Carver.

Right now, cough medicines with codeine are kept behind the counter at pharmacies, but pharmacists wouldn't be surprised if most other cough medicines were also taken off store shelves.

East Texas drug abuse educators believe the main reason all cough syrups are not locked up is because many people don't realize how dangerous they can be.

The cough medicine-syrup concoction is also known as 'purple stuff', 'lean', and 'purple jelly'. A pint of it usually costs about $200 on the street.

Phyllis Grandgeorge, executive director for the Alcohol & Drug Abuse Council, said, "I think that most people are not aware that it is being abused and there's not been a movement nationally to survey the abuse of cough syrup, and so they have not studied it to really see the effects of it, but we do think it's a big issue that needs to be looked at."

Dizziness, slurred speech, and confusion are also part of the high some cough medicine abusers experience.

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