Drug and Alcohol - Opioid Addiction

Stilpane Syrup: Dangers of Abusing Codeine-Based Cough Syrups

What is Stilpane Syrup?

Stilpane syrup is a form of codeine cough syrup. While effective, it can be dangerous when abused. Learn more about Stilpane syrup in our blog.

Written by

brian-mooreBrian Moore

Content Writer

Reviewed by

jeremy-arztJeremy Arzt

Chief Clinical Officer

Drug and Alcohol

Opioid Addiction

November 19, 2023

How harmful could cough syrup be?

Plenty, if you're abusing opioid cough syrup like Stilpane.

If you've ever had a bad cough, you know they can hurt after a while. Codeine cough syrups like Stilpane can relieve the pain of a bad cough while treating it. However, codeine, while a milder opioid, can make abuse of cough syrup considerably risky.

Unfortunately, abuse medications like Stilpane syrup have gotten a higher profile in the past decade or so. Often referred to as "lean" or "sizzurp" by rappers, these cough syrups have become somewhat popular party drugs. They are also easy to get a hold of, with prescription cough syrups readily being sold on the black market.

Using Stilpane syrup brings with it two risks: opioid overdose and addiction.

Codeine by the Numbers:

The Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) reported that one in ten teenagers abuse codeine cough syrups to get high. The National Survey of Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) also stated that as many as 1 million young adults and adolescents, 12 to 25, use cold and non-prescription cough medication to get high.

What Is Stilpane Syrup?

Stilpane syrup is a codeine-based cough syrup that contains a combination of paracetamol and promethazine. It is primarily used to treat coughs associated with colds and upper respiratory infections. Promethazine, an antihistamine, helps to alleviate symptoms such as sneezing, runny nose, and watery eyes. On the other hand, codeine works as a cough suppressant by reducing the intensity of coughing.

While Stilpane syrup can be an effective medication when used properly and under medical supervision, it can also have serious consequences if abused. This is because codeine is an opioid drug that can produce feelings of euphoria and relaxation when taken in large quantities. This makes it attractive to people seeking a recreational high.

Stilpane Syrup: What Is Codeine?

Codeine is a narcotic pain reliever that belongs to the opioid class of drugs. It is derived from the opium poppy and works by binding to opioid receptors in the brain, spinal cord, and other parts of the body. Codeine can be found in many over-the-counter cough syrups, as well as prescription medications for pain relief.

It was created as a pain soother by a French chemist by the name of Pierre Robiquet in the year 1832. It comes from the opium poppy plant as it is an opiate drug. Combined with other drugs, it comes in various forms like muscle relaxants, decongestants, and pain relievers. Unfortunately, all combinations are unhealthy, and some can be dangerous.

For example, muscle relaxants and codeine can combine to cause respiratory arrest in the user. You may be surprised that earlier cough medication used to contain alcohol. As soon as alcohol was removed from the ingredient lists, the patterns of abuse changed in our country. 

Codeine abuse can be dangerous for a number of reasons. For one, it can cause respiratory depression, which means that a person's breathing can slow down or stop altogether. This can lead to coma and death if left untreated.

Moreover, codeine is also highly addictive. Continued use of high doses of codeine can result in physical dependence, where the body becomes reliant on the drug to function normally. This makes it difficult for a person to stop using the drug without experiencing severe withdrawal symptoms.

People who believe that codeine cough syrups are harmless or comparatively less harmful than other drugs are mistaken. Codeine is a substance that falls in the category of opioids, including oxycodone and heroin. Unfortunately, cough syrups have been abused by the younger demographics for many years. They generally mix the syrup with alcoholic and non-alcoholic sodas. They are known by nicknames such as sizzurp, purple drank, syrup, and lean. 

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Stilpane Syrup: What Does Codeine Do?

Codeine is an opiate generally prescribed for mild to moderate pain, cough, and sometimes gastrointestinal problems like diarrhea. Other commonly prescribed opioid drugs include OxyContin, Vicodin, Demerol, and Hydrocodone.

Codeine is a controlled substance placed in the category of Schedule II drugs by the DEA. It can help relieve the symptoms of various conditions but cannot treat the underlying cause of it. People who use this medication responsibly do not stray from the prescribed dose.

Opioids work by attaching themselves to our brain receptors. They would then mimic the effects produced by our naturally produced pain-relieving chemicals. Opioid drugs bind themselves to the opiate receptors in our body in places like the brain and spinal cord. They block our perception of pain once they bind themselves to the receptors. In short, our bodies have natural opiates, but they are not produced enough to mask severe pain.

Opioid drugs such as codeine-based cough syrups like Stilpane activate our receptors, flooding dopamine in our brain's reward center.  

Unfortunately, this is not the only thing our brain perceives. The reward center is that part of our brain that perceives pleasure and euphoric feelings. Our brain is wired in such a way that it wants to repeat the pleasure it has achieved repeatedly. This is how addiction takes place.

Our brain and body begin to depend on the drug to gain the same pleasure it has felt before. Abusing cough syrup like Stilpane can result in various health and interpersonal problems. A few of the side effects are mentioned below. 

What Are Some Side Effects of Stilpane Syrup?

Stilpane syrup, like other codeine-based syrups, should be taken under a doctor's direction. The precise and practiced dose will help treat sleeplessness and relieve pain, relation, and suppressed cough. The codeine found in these medications is not as high as morphine but is quite effective. Its effectiveness is enough to remind the user that it's an opioid drug with a fair share of risk.

There are various short-term and long-term side effects of using such syrups. These are:

Short-Term Side Effects of Stilpane Syrup

Short-term side effects include nausea, constipation, confusion, allergic skin reactions, drowsiness, vomiting, dry mouth, allergic skin reactions, and dysphoria. 

Long-Term Side Effects of Silpane Syrup

The long-term side effects of such medication can include nightmares, insomnia, seizures, pain without medication, and liver damage. 

There are several signs of cough syrup abuse as well. These include slurred speech, abnormal heart rate, coughing, breathing issues, mood swings, confusion, and disappearing money. 

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What Is Paracetamol?

Paracetamol, also known as acetaminophen, is a common pain reliever and fever reducer. It is often used in combination with other medications, such as codeine, to enhance their effects. Paracetamol works by blocking the production of certain chemicals in the body that cause pain and inflammation.

While paracetamol is generally considered safe when taken as directed, it can be extremely harmful when abused. Taking large doses of paracetamol can cause severe liver damage and even liver failure. This is because the body can only metabolize a certain amount of paracetamol at a time, and excess amounts can build up and become toxic.

Is It Possible to Overdose on Stilpane Syrup?

Yes! Anyone can easily overdose on codeine. This is because opioids depress our breathing rate. This can happen to the point where we become oxygen-deprived in our sleep. People who mix alcohol with opioids like Stilpane syrup can experience the effects of both substances.

Both of these substances are very addictive, and their combination can lead to death. Combined, alcohol and codeine can slow breathing down to fatal levels. Also, Stilpane syrup abuse can lead to the development of tolerance, dependency, and addiction. 

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Dangers of Abusing Stilpane Syrup


One of the biggest risks of abusing Stilpane syrup is overdose. Codeine, like all opioids, can slow down breathing and heart rate when taken in large doses. This can lead to unconsciousness, coma, or even death if not treated immediately.

Additionally, the combination of codeine and paracetamol can be especially dangerous. High doses of paracetamol can cause liver damage, while high doses of codeine can depress the respiratory system. In some cases, this can result in liver failure and death.


Another danger of abusing Stilpane syrup is addiction. Continued use of opioids like codeine can lead to physical dependence and tolerance, where a person needs higher doses of the drug to achieve the same effects. This can lead to a vicious cycle of abuse, as users may take more medication in an attempt to experience the desired high.

Moreover, addiction can also have serious consequences on a person's health and well-being. It can strain relationships, cause financial problems, and impact daily functioning. In severe cases, addiction can even lead to overdose and death.

Stilpane Syrup Abuse Treatment & Recovery

Treatment for codeine addiction does not need to be scary and frightening. You needn't worry about it since there are many ways to get out of the clutches of abuse. However, getting help and finding appropriate treatment is vital before things worsen. The signs like financial difficulties, overlooking professional and personal life, and having legal issues are serious. All these indicate that you need help. 

The first step is generally to get detoxed.

Drug Detox

Detox or detoxification is when a person withdraws from the substance and their body is cleaned. The best way to get detox is under medical supervision, as they would administer medications to manage the withdrawal symptoms. For instance, they can give medications to help with severe alcohol addiction symptoms. In the case of codeine addiction, they can prescribe buprenorphine.

Once you have successfully completed detox, you must enter a rehabilitation program. 

Drug Rehab

These recovery programs are vital to maintaining sobriety. They can provide group and individual therapy and family and couple therapy programs. These counseling sessions help the patient understand addiction as a disease, learn their own abusive patterns, and identify the triggers that can risk relapse.

]It is essential to seek treatment for codeine-based substances like lean, purple drank, Stilpane syrup, and other concoctions, as their continued use can lead to overdose and addiction. Aftercare is the last phase of formal treatment that can continue long. It is involuntary yet essential to achieve long-term recovery from any substance addiction. 

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Feel Like Stilpane Syrup Is Controlling You? The Edge Treatment Center Will Help

Stilpane abuse often turns into opioid addiction. Let's be clear: opioid addiction is one of the most harmful and deadly forms of drug abuse there is. It can be a surprisingly short trip from codeine abuse to fentanyl. Opioids easily kill more people than any other drug. Getting help for opioid abuse is critical.

If you or someone you know is struggling with addiction to Stilpane syrup or other opioid medications, it's important to seek help as soon as possible. The Edge Treatment Center offers comprehensive treatment programs for opioid addiction, including medically supervised detox, therapy, and aftercare support.

Don't let cough syrup control your life. Contact The Edge Treatment Center today and take the first step towards recovery. Remember, it's never too late to seek help and turn your life around. Recovery is possible with the right support and treatment. So, don't hesitate to reach out for help if you or a loved one is struggling with addiction to Stilpane syrup or any other substance.

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If you or a loved one is struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our team can guide you on your journey to recovery. Call us today.