Drinking prescription-strength cough syrup containing codeine and promethazine mixed with soda was referenced frequently in some popular music beginning in the late 90s and has now become increasingly popular among youth in several areas of the country, according to recent CEWG data. Codeine is an opioid that can produce relaxation and euphoria when consumed in sufficient quantities. Promethazine is an antihistamine that also acts as a sedative. Users may also flavor the mixture with the addition of hard candies.
Codeine and other opioids present a high risk of fatal overdose due to their effect of depressing the central nervous system, which can slow or stop the heart and lungs. Mixing with alcohol greatly increases this risk. Deaths from prescription opioid medications now outnumber overdose deaths from all other drugs (including cocaine and heroin), and codeine-promethazine cough syrup has been linked to the overdose deaths of some prominent musicians.