Is Justin Bieber addicted to sizzurp?
The pop star, who was arrested early Thursday morning while street racing in Miami Beach, smelled of alcohol and had a “stupor look” on his face, according to a police report. After failing a field sobriety test, Bieber was taken into custody.
Officers at the scene also noted that Bieber had a “flushed face” and “bloodshot eyes.” The 19-year-old hurled obscenities at the officers throughout the ordeal.
During a news conference, officials said, “[Justin] made statements he had consumed some alcohol, been smoking marijuana and consumed some prescription medication.”
TMZ has been chronicling reports of Bieber’s alleged addiction to sizzurp, saying he has an “out-of-control” problem with the substance, which is a cough syrup that’s commonly prescribed for pneumonia or bronchitis and is often mixed with alcohol, according to Dr. David Sack, CEO of Promises Treatment Centers. 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.
“Kid needs help,” police spokesman Bobby Hernandez told the Miami New Times.
On March 15, 2013, rapper Lil Wayne nearly lost his life after suffering seizures during a sizzurp binge. As for Wayne’s experience, Sack said the syrup was likely combined with clear soda like 7-Up or vodka.
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 some inner-city communities.
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’t on parents’ 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’t get a prescription, they may ingest large amounts of over-the-counter cough medications containing dextromethorphan (DXM), such as NyQuil and Robitussin.
Parents, many of whom are far removed from rap culture and drug trends, don’t always know what to look for. Here are a few symptoms of cough syrup abuse:
- Frequent complaints of cough or cold symptoms
- Empty medicine bottles or packages
- Impaired coordination
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Drowsiness or fatigue
- Dissociation from one’s body
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.
As for Bieber, a Canadian citizen — reportedly in the U.S. on a performer’s visa — he could be deported if convicted of a serious crime or if officials deem him enough of a problem, attorneys say.
Booking photo courtesy Miami Beach Police Dept.