Toronto

Party drug 'purple drank' a dangerous mix, police say

Police are warning parents and teens about the dangers of using prescription cold medication as a party drug.

Concoction made with cold medicine, soda is potentially dangerous and addictive

Police are warning parents and teens about the dangers of using prescription cold medication as a party drug.

Halton Regional Police say they've seen an increase over the past six months in cases involving "purple drank" — a mix of cold medication and soda or some other drink. 

The result is a potentially dangerous and addictive substance, according to Sgt. Paul Foley of the Halton Regional Police drug unit. 

"It's essentially cough syrup that contains an opioid," a family of drugs that includes fentanyl, oxycodone and codeine, Foley said. 

"If you consume it all night, ultimately your heart rate will slow down. And if you mix it with alcohol … ultimately people are having heart failure and they're passing away." 

Overdoses have been reported across Canada, but not in Halton, Foley said. 

Use in the area is "not rampant, but definitely a concern," he added. 

Opioid overdoses were the third leading cause of accidental death in Ontario, according to a 2014 report by the Canadian Drug Policy Coalition. In Toronto alone, coroners' statistics cited in the same study said more than 200 people died of overdoses in 2012. 

Halton Regional Police are seeing more cases, but so far no overdoses, involving the party drug 'purple drank,' according to Sgt. Paul Foley. (CBC)

Mixed with candies

Purple drank is named for its typical colour, but is also known as "syrup," "sizzurp" and "lean." 

Hard candies are sometimes also added to the mix for flavour according to AddictionaryHalton, a drug awareness site launched recently by the police force. 

Because purple drank's key ingredient is typically found in medicine cabinets, the police force on Saturday encouraged residents to drop off their old prescription medications. 

Ten per cent of Ontario high schoolers reported having used prescription opioids for non-medical purposes in 2015, according a study by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, down from more than 12% in 2013. 

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