Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Perhaps this is an old discussion, but I happened to watch Lil' Wayne's VH1 Behind the Music episode and I could not help but think: Are that many people really using cough syrup to get high? And, if so, why? The "sizzurp" discussion really began with Three 6 Mafia's song Sippin' on Some Syrup (video above), which achieved some success although the video was short-lived on BET and MTV. Hip-hop has often and unfortunately been tied with recreational drug culture, as many music genres have over the years. I don't know if hip-hop artists exhibit higher levels of use than non-hip-hop community members. I would be willing to hypothesize that the constant association of hip-hop with drugs is part of a desire for mainstream media to malign hip-hop. That, however, is a whole different discussion.
With people now drinking combinations of cough syrup and soda (and a Jolly Rancher depending on your recipe), how does this change law enforcement's policing of recreational drug use? The "syrup" involved is prescription strength and contains codeine, a Schedule II drug. There are serious addictive consequences to "sippin'." My guess is that because codeine-containing drugs are not sold over the counter in the United States, many syrup concoctions use over-the-counter versions with no codeine, but a healthy amount of alcohol. Cough syrups range from 2.5 to 25 percent alcohol. And you thought that fuzzy navel you were drinking was addictive?
MSNBC reports that one in every 14 high school seniors has used cold medicine to get high. That seems high, not because I think high school students are not involved in all sorts of risky behavior, but because... well... it's cough medicine. I guess stealing your dad's bottle of whiskey isn't cool anymore. It has been well-reported that alcoholics will use cough syrup and mouthwash to satisfy their desire for drink, so perhaps it really isn't shocking that we see individuals engaged in this behavior. It's really not a new trend. What is law enforcement to do? Check everyone's cup like the breakup of a bad college party? Ignore the precocious syrup drinkers? Take cough syrup in any form off the shelf?
Most of us remember when Sudafed was pulled off the shelves because it contained psuedoephedrine, which could be converted into methamphetamine. Although the makers of Sudafed, Pfizer/Warner-Lambert, were able to find a drug to replace psuedoephedrine, apparently the original version can still be found (I don't read labels that closely to say more.). Is that what will become of cough syrup? Will this spur innovation in drug making or be ignored because it only effects "those hip-hop artists?"
So where do we see this syrup trend going? What might law enforcement do if anything? What is the government's role in regulating these types of practices?
-- Nick J. Sciullo
(Video contains content from Sony Music Entertainment)