'Sizzurp' abuse on the rise

Cough syrup containing codeine and dextromethorphan are not only being used as a remedy for colds...

Cough syrup containing codeine and dextromethorphan are not only being used as a remedy for colds and flus, but are now being taken as a recreational drug. (VERONICA HENRI/Toronto Sun)

Jenny Yuen, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:28 AM ET

They call it “sizzurp,” “purple drank” or “water.”

Cough syrup containing codeine and dextromethorphan are not only being used as a remedy for colds and flus, but are now being taken as a recreational drug.

The cold medications are often mixed with soda and a Jolly Rancher candy to produce the concoction used as an easily-accessible and cheap way to get high.

Since 2010, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has been looking to curb increased incidents of cough medicine abuse and are considering whether more stringent restrictions could help — noting young people aged 12 to 20 have been more at-risk of using the drugs.

In 2011, dozens of young teenagers and pre-teens in B.C. ended up in the emergency room after overdosing on cold medications.

A Quebec coroner is lobbying the government to relegate dextromethorphan behind the pharmacist’s counter after two men in the province died last year because they failed to follow instructions on the label.


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