Purple Drank is prevalent and easily accessible, says an activist. [Picture: Addiction Now]
The lean drug, commonly referred to as ‘Purple Drank’, has prompted concern amongst parents in Johannesburg. Popular amongst teenagers, parents are worried about easy accessibility and potential side effects.
Speaking in an interview on Salaamedia, Cheryl Pillay, community activist and chairperson of the Yes Movement in Eldorado Park, said it was of great concern that the drug was readily available.
“It’s absolutely concerning if you’re looking at the accessibility of lean in our communities,” she said, adding that it was available at informal shops “on about every corner”.
The drug, made from codeine-based cough syrup, several other household ingredients and medication, can trap users into addiction within a short space of time. This is due to the opioid it contains, which short circuits the brain’s reward system.
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Accessibility and prevalence
Pillay noted the proliferation of Purple Drank, especially on the streets of Eldorado Park where she is focused. She said the urgent priority was to educate parents and teachers about the drug.
“We all walk around with water bottles. It’s so easy for the kids to put the concoction in a juice bottle and they could be right in front of you and use it. It’s medication that is being held in our homes, it’s the day-to-day meds in there,” she warned.
She suggested it was time to start looking at spaza shops and their role in supplying medication to minors. “The scary thing is that all of this is accessible in our households, but also the corner shop is selling it to children whether they have a pharmaceutical licence or not”.
“We started an engagement with the various stakeholders – SAHPRA, Public Safety, educators – so we can take the message out. We need to get this message out that it’s not okay,” she added.