Codeine, also known as lean, has been sensationalized by the rap community making it popular with college students.
An SF State student, who would like to remain anonymous, said the rap community has influenced his lean intake.
“They influenced me to keep drinking it cause they made it sound gangster as f––k and I was scared of the adult world so it made me feel trendy and hip not to mention tough and badass,” he said.
Now, rappers are starting to take a stance against the drug that is taking the lives of many young and beloved rappers.
Codeine is a dangerous substance if it’s used for recreational purposes. Lil Wayne, Future, Chief Keef and Gucci Mane are all among the list of rappers who at one point in their lives have used prescription codeine for recreational purposes and have embellished codeine usage within their music.
“I wake up leaning from last night, I drink my lean for breakfast,” Future raps in his most notable song, “Dirty Sprite.”
Rick Nizzardini, interim director for the Health Promotion and Wellness unit at SF State, and Emily Hops, a health educator, explained the side effects codeine can have when being abused.
“In extreme cases, people can have negative side effects from this called ‘serotonin syndrome,’” according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, serotonin syndrome is a serious syndrome that may take place when using certain serotonergic drugs, including codeine.
“Side effects of serotonin syndrome include hallucinations, fever, fast heart rate, muscle stiffness, loss of coordination and nausea,” said Nizzardini.
Lean has been in the limelight recently due to the death of Fredo Santana, a rapper from the Southside of Chicago music scene. Santana was only 27 when he died late January. Reports indicate that his cause of death was due to a seizure. Santana was known for his excessive lean drinking.
Following the incident, Mozzy, a prominent rapper from Sacramento, went viral with a video he posted on his instagram pouring out his prescription codeine and encouraging others, especially the youth, to do the same.
As he pours out his prescription of codeine at a gas station, “Any young n––– doing that s––t, bruh, you understand me. This should influence you to stop,” he said.
Many rappers have started to realize how dangerous this substance can be and most have expressed the importance it is to live a clean lifestyle and promote healthy living. Following the footsteps of Mozzy, famed producer DJ Mustard also expressed his opinion on codeine via his Snapchat following the death of Santana by pouring out his prescription codeine down a sink drain, he says, “it’s over,” to his lean drinking habits.
According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, about 2.5 million people between the ages of 18 – 25 misused opioids in 2016. Codeine is among the list of misused opioids within the age group and recent data has shown that the number increased from previous years.
The rap industry is slowly doing their part to bring awareness to the codeine abuse epidemic through their social media and other resources. While rap is popular among college student it is also a big influence in college culture.
“I tried lean cause my friends did it, it was available, I never paid for it, it taste good, it was fun, it had a cool image associated with it, the high felt bada––,” said the anonymous SF State student.
Students who are struggling with any drug addiction can find support through on-campus support groups, Alcohol and Other Drugs Counseling and through The Health Promotion and Wellness unit.