Last week, 30-year-old rapper Lil Wayne was hospitalized after suffering seizures. While details are still unconfirmed, it is suspected that his condition resulted from an overdose of a drug called "sizzurp." Addiction psychiatrist and CEO of Promises Treatment Centers Dr. David Sack recently appeared on Fox News to discuss sizzurp. \u201cIt\u2019s a combination of codeine and promethazine, which is a cough syrup that\u2019s commonly prescribed for pneumonia or bronchitis,\u201d he explained. \u201cIn this particular twist, it\u2019s often combined with clear soda like 7-Up or very often vodka or other clear liquor.\u201d Also called syrup, Texas tea, purple drank and lean, sizzurp may also be mixed with hard candies like Jolly Ranchers and is typically sipped out of a Styrofoam cup. When the syrup is used other than as prescribed, it is illegal. The Dangers of Prescription Cough Syrup Abuse When used as directed, usually for a couple days in small doses, prescription cough syrup is fairly safe. But sizzurp users treat the drug not as a medicine but a drink, used recreationally for multi-day binges. Used in high doses, sometimes up to 25 times the dose typically prescribed to ease pain or cough, the codeine and promethazine in the cough syrup produce a sleepy euphoria. The effects are amplified, as are the dangers, when users mix in alcohol or other prescription drugs. Codeine is in the class of drugs called opiates. Like other drugs in this class, such as heroin and morphine, it can be highly addictive. As a respiratory depressant, codeine can cause users to stop breathing if taken in high doses. Although opiate withdrawal doesn\u2019t usually result in seizures, sizzurp is often combined with alcohol and other drugs such as benzodiazepines (a combination sometimes called \u201cpancakes and syrup\u201d). Mixing drugs can turn a mild high into one that rivals heroin in terms of intensity and addictive potential, and can produce severe withdrawal symptoms including seizures. In addition, promethazine, an antihistamine with mild sedative effects, can make users who are prone to seizures more likely to have them. Because cough syrup can be legally prescribed by a physician, there is less awareness of the dangers and less stigma surrounding its use. In fact, Lil Wayne has publicly professed his fondness for sizzurp, regularly appearing for interviews with a Styrofoam cup in hand and rapping about the syrup in his 2008 track \u201cMe and My Drank.\u201d Pleas for Treatment Ignored A week after being hospitalized, Lil Wayne is recovering from the incident, tweeting, \u201cI\u2019m good everybody. Thx for the prayers and love.\u201d But family and friends are still concerned. People close to Lil Wayne have pleaded with him to go to rehab, particularly in the wake of rap idol Pimp C\u2019s death from an overdose of syrup in 2007 and suspected syrup-related deaths of two other rappers. To date, he has resisted getting help. In part, this is because there are a number of hurdles on the path to recovery. Opiate withdrawal symptoms are comparable to a bad flu \u2013 shivering, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle and joint pain, insomnia \u2013 but worse, users report. Lil Wayne himself told MTV that quitting the syrup \u201cfeels like death in your stomach when you stop.\u201d He said, \u201cEverybody wants me to stop all this and all that. It ain\u2019t that easy.\u201d Withdrawal typically lasts a few days to a week and can be eased with medication, but it is just the first step in a longer process. Because Lil Wayne\u2019s \u201cbrand\u201d has become synonymous with drug use, in some ways he would need to redefine himself as an artist. Like high-functioning CEOs and professionals, his success as a rapper convinces him that any problem he has can\u2019t be that serious. As he explained to MTV, \u201cI feel like everything I do is successful and productive. It\u2019s gonna be hard to tell me I\u2019m slipping.\u201d The obstacles to recovery are not insurmountable. Others have done it successfully, and loved ones and fans hold out hope that Lil Wayne\u2019s recent hospitalization will be the impetus for him to finally seek help. Role Models for Addiction Endanger Teens With origins in the 1990s underground hip-hop scene in Texas, sizzurp is known as a drug of choice among some rappers and celebrities, professional athletes and residents of certain inner-city communities. But its popularity is also exploding with a very different group: teenagers. Teenagers are at heightened risk of both prescription and over-the-counter cough syrup abuse. It is cheap and easy to make, and it isn\u2019t on parents\u2019 radar in the same way as heroin and other street drugs. According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, prescription and over-the-counter medications are the most commonly abused drugs among high school seniors next to marijuana. If teens can\u2019t get a prescription, they may ingest large amounts of over-the-counter cough medications containing dextromethorphan (DXM), such as NyQuil and Robitussin. When celebrities sing the praises of a drug, young people take notice. Parents, many of whom are far removed from rap culture and drug trends, don\u2019t always know what to look for. Here are a few symptoms of cough syrup abuse: \tFrequent complaints of cough or cold symptoms \tEmpty medicine bottles or packages \tImpaired coordination \tSlurred speech \tBlurred vision \tDrowsiness or fatigue \tDissociation from one\u2019s body \tVomiting \tFainting \tTremors \tHallucinations Teens who are abusing cough syrup or other drugs may have mood swings, declining school performance or attendance, or a change in friends, sleeping or eating habits or appearance. Because of the serious risks and potential for addiction, cough syrup should be stored in a locked medicine cabinet, out of reach of curious teens.